NOTES ON EARLY MARRIAGES
Many of these notes were quoted from Wingfield’s “Marriage Bonds of Franklin County, Virginia”
MARRIAGE BOND (or license) DEFINITION
A Marriage Bond (or license) was given as a guarantee that there was
no legal or moral reason why a couple should not be
married, and that the man was capable of providing
support for himself and his wife; usually not a cash bond, but a
guarantee that could be enforced. Such a bond was at
times given by the man about to be married, along with
another person, or could be entirely by others.
MARRIAGE BOND FORM
The regular form of a marriage bond was as follows:
"Know all men by these presents, That we (usually filled in with name of groom and one other man), are held and firmly bound unto the Commonwealth of Virginia (bonds sometime given to the Governor) in the just and full sum of One Hundred and Fifty Dollars, the true payment whereof, well and truly to be made, we bind ourselves, our heirs, executors and administrators, jointly and severally, firmly by these presents. Sealed with our seals, and dated this _____ day of _____.
"The conditions of the above obligation is such, That whereas the above bound ___________, hath obtained from the Clerk of the County Court of ___________, a license for his intermarriage with ___________, of said county. Now if there shall be no lawful cause to obstruct said marriage, then the above obligation to be void, else to obtain in full force and virture.
(Signature of Bondsmen)
The date on the above document would be the date the bond or license was applied for. If we don’t have the Ministers Return with the date of the marriage we use this date for the marriage date.
Sometime the form would read (bride’s name) daughter of (father’s name) or (grooms name) son of (father’s name).
But this was not always true.
If the bride or groom was under 21 years of age the parent would have to submit a written note saying they had the permission of the parent to marry.
BANS OF MATRIMONY.
The giving public notice or making proclamation of a matrimonial contract, and the intended celebration of the marriage of the parties in pursuance of such contract, to the end that persons objecting to the same, may have an opportunity to declare such objections before the marriage is solemnized.
A ban had to be published for three Sundays or Holy Days, in the parish church, before the couple was married. The marriage fee under banns was ¼ as much as the fee under license.
Ministers of the Established church were at liberty to celebrate marriages under the authority of both banns and license (or bonds). Banns constituted a legal substitute for a license (or Bond). Marriages under licenses (or bonds) were recorded in the office of the County Clerk – those under banns were recorded in the Parish Register. So all marriages were not evidenced by Marriage Bonds filed with the County Clerk. The marriage fee under banns was just one forth as much as the fee under license (bond). So it is reasonable to suppose that many couples were married by banns.
Not many copies of the Parish Registers were delivered to the office of the secetary of the dominion as the law required. So we face the fact that many of the early marriage records are irrevocably lost.
If we have the Ministers Return with the date the marriage took place then we use the Ministers Return.
The license form was changed on April 7, 1858, according to Wingfield’s “Marriage Bonds of Franklin County, Virginia”.
After this no marriage bonds or banns were given.
The new form was as follows:
“Certificate to obtain a Marriage License”
Having applied to the Clerk of the __________ Court of ________ for a Marriage License, and being requested, I make the following Certificate as required by the Act of the General Assembly, passed April 7, 1858.
Date of marriage_______________________________________________
Place of marriage______________________________________________
Full names of parties married____________________________________
Age of husband________________________________________________
Age of wife____________________________________________________
Condition of husband (widowed or single)_________________________
Condition of wife (widowed or single)_____________________________
Place of husband’s birth________________________________________
Place of wife’s birth____________________________________________
Place of husband’s residence_____________________________________
Place of wife’s residence_________________________________________
Nanes of husband’s parents______________________________________
Names of wife’s parents_________________________________________
Occupation of husband_________________________________________
Given under my hand this ____day of _________, 18__
_____________________________(name of husband)
Within two months after the marriage shall have taken place, the Minister solemnizing the same must certify the fact to the Clerk of the Court.
On March 15, 1861, an Act was passed requiring that Certificate to obtain a Marriage License, and Certificate of Minister solemnizing same, be annexed to the license itself.