FindMyPast releases marriage licences from as early as 1115 for 15 English counties

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03 December 2018
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Marriage licences dating from the twelfth century through to 1906 for fifteen English counties have this week been released by genealogy website FindMyPast.

Marriage licences dating from the twelfth century through to 1906 for fifteen English counties have this week been released by genealogy website FindMyPast.

Marriage licenses reveal your ancestor's intended spouse, father's name, and the intended marriage place. The collection consists of a mixture of more than 536,000 handwritten and typed record books from 1115 until 1906 provided by the College of Arms, Anguline Research Archives, and Gould Genealogy.

A marriage licence was obtained from the Church of England for a fee and with a sworn declaration that there were no legal impediments to the marriage. The licence waived the banns period necessary for a marriage to take place. Marriage licences were first introduced in the 14th century.

What counties are included?

Fifteen English counties are represented:

  • Bedfordshire
  • Devon
  • Gloucestershire
  • Hampshire
  • Kent
  • Lancashire
  • Lincolnshire
  • London
  • Middlesex
  • Nottinghamshire
  • Somerset
  • Suffolk
  • Surrey
  • Worcestershire
  • Yorkshire

What information do the marriage licences contain?

With each result, you will find a transcript of the vital facts and an image of the digitised volume of marriage licences. The detail in each licence varies depending on the age of the document and the individuals named in the licence. People of high social standing usually have more detail recorded in their licence such as occupations and fathers’ names. You will find a combination of the following facts in the marriage licence:

  • Name

  • Residence

  • Father’s name

  • Spouse’s name

  • Spouse’s residence

  • Spouse’s father’s name

  • Marital status

  • Marriage place

Sir John Beauchamp

One of the oldest records in the collection is from 27 January 1446 for ‘Richard son of Sir John Beauchamp [knight] and Elizabeth Stafford, da. Of sir Humphrey Stafford [knight]. Licence to Master Robert Carrewe, master of arts, and Sir John Wellys, record of Alcester. The marriage to be solemnized in the chapel or oratory within the manor of the said Sir John Beauchamp near Alcester’.

Sir Richard Beauchamp, 2nd Baron Beauchamp of Powick, participated in the War of the Roses and fought against Queen Margaret at the Battle of Tewkesbury. The marriage was not a happy one. Elizabeth committed adultery and conspired with a neighbour to kill Richard.

For a full list of volumes available, visit FindMyPast.

QUICK LINK: What information can be found on a marriage certificate?

(image copyright Wellcome Collection)