Family Events


Old Herts

How To


The early church registers may record no more than the name of the couple and the date - possibly in Latin - and possibly in the same book as as baptisms and burials. In addition marriage was possible by affirmation before witnesses without religious rites and such marriages would not be registered. In addition registration was very lax during the Interregnum.

The HALS web site has an online name index which includes the Allen index of marriages recorded in Hertfordshire Parish Registers between 1538-1837 plus additional entries from the Bishops Transcripts (useful if the registers for a particular parish no longer exist) plus information from some other sources. If a marriage is not recorded in this index it is almost certain that either did not take place in Hertfordshire or formal records for it do not survive although there may be clues in wills and other documents..


Lord Hardwicke's Act for the Better Preventing of Clandestine Marriages in 1754 tightened up the law and marriages could only be carried out in licensed buildings - which were churches and chapels of the Church of England. (There were exceptions for the Quakers and the Jews.) It also introduced pro forma register books which record the names and parishes of residence of the couple, the place of marriage and whether by banns or by licence, the date and signature of the minister, the signatures (or marks) of the couple, and the signature of two or more witnesses.

The Marriage Act of 1836 introduced the formal registration of marriages from July 1837. The marriage register is one copy of the registration process and for each partner the name, age (possibly just "Full Age"), condition (bachelor, etc), occupation, address, father's name and father's occupation, the other information being as before. Copies of marriage certificates for Hertfordshire marriages can be purchased from the Hertfordshire County Council Registrar (see civil registration).

In addition to holding the marriage registers HALS has the Allen Index - which was originally a card index of pre 1837 Hertfordshire marriages. It has now been computerised and is being extended to more recent dates. It is only available at HALS and may be accessed online on their web site.

During 2012 FindMyPast are to digitise the Hertfordshire Parish Registers and Bishops Transcripts held at HALS up to 1910 for baptisms, 1928 for marriages and 1990 for burials.

see Witnesses at Weddings

London Marriage Licences 1521-1869

Where a marriage certificate (or children birth certificates) cannot be found see a technique for finding maiden names when the marriage and child birth certificates cannot be found.

See IND, Baldock, 18th century for a detailed analysis of a late 18th century marriage register entry


Banns were read to announce a forthcoming marriage on three occasions in the parishes of the bride and the groom.  Lord Hardwicke's Act for the Better Preventing of Clandestine Marriages in 1754 require that a record of the banns for marriage should be kept and this can be useful if information from other sources is not available - although the banns are not evidence that the marriage took place.

The book Tracing Your Family History in Hertfordshire contains a table showing the coverage of both the marriage registers and the banns for each Hertfordshire parish.

Page updated July 2009 (link to maiden name technique)