Marriage Bonds

Norfolk GenealogyThere could be a number of reasons why a couple would decide to buy a marriage licence and not to opt for marriage banns to be read. The main reasons are likely to be …..

  • Wish to marry in haste, groom may be leaving for overseas service in military
  • Marriage may be viewed harshly by society, pregnant bride, women marrying a much younger man, difference in social standing
  • Either the bride or the groom lived in another parish or were of a religion other than Church of England

The process of marrying without banns being read generated three documents. The first is an Allegation, a sworn statement made that both parties were free to marry, the second a Bond was lodged in the form of a contract usually signed by the groom or a family member which promised to pay a fine if it was found that either party wasn’t legally allowed to marry. The amount of the fine was usually quite a large sum so this was not entered into lightly. The final document was the licence itself which was given to the bondsman who in turn handed it to the clergyman who was to conduct the ceremony. The licences could be issued by a number of church authorities.

This collection is of the Marriage Bonds 1557 – 1915 and is not indexed, but can be browse page by page. It is divided between the Archdeaconry of Norfolk, the Archdeaconry of Norwich, Dean & Chapter of Norwich and the Consistory Court of Norwich. Click on the appropriate link and a list of the years available comes up, click on the year you want and browse through that year. The documents may not be in alphabetical order.

These documents are available through the FamilySearch website free of charge. Click on the link below.