Maryland, Marriage Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records scheduled to become available at FamilySearch.org.

Contents

Collection Time Period

This collection dates from 1776 through 1886.

Record Description

This is a collection of Marriages obtained from the Maryland General Assembly.

Record Content

The key genealogical facts in these marriage records include:

  • Names of bride and groom
  • Age of bride and groom
  • Race of bride and groom
  • Residence of bride and groom
  • Marital status of bride and groom (single or widowed)
  • Occupation of bride and groom
  • Date of license
  • Date of marriage
  • Minister’s information including residence

How to Use the Record

To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:

  • The county where the marriage occurred
  • The name of the person at the time of marriage
  • The approximate marriage date
  • The marriage place
  • The name of the intended spouse

Compare the information in the marriage record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.

When you have located your ancestor’s marriage record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family.

For example:

  • Use the marriage date and place as the basis for compiling a new family group or for verifying existing information.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth of each partner to find a couple's birth records and parents' names.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find the family in census records.
  • Use the residence and names of the parents to locate church and land records.
  • Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment records or military records.
  • Use the parents' birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
  • The name of the officiator is a clue to their religion or area of residence in the county. However, ministers may have reported marriages performed in other counties.
  • Compile the marriage entries for every person who has the same surname as the bride or groom; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
  • Continue to search the marriage records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives of the bride and groom who may have married in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
  • Use the marriage number to identify previous marriages.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.

Keep in mind:

  • The information in marriage records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant.
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1800s.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from one marriage record to another record.

If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for, try the following:

  • Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Search for the marriage record of the marriage partner if known.
  • Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.

Record History

Beginning in 1640, the Maryland General Assembly required the clergy to post marriage banns and keep registers of marriages. Marriage Banns alerted the coummunity to the upcoming marriage through weekly announcements at the local church leading up to the marriage date. The marriage register recorded that the marriage event happened.

Information on these marriage records included:

  • Name of bride and groom
  • Date of marriage (marriage register)
  • Sometimes lists witnesses

The Maryland General Assembly transferred the responsibility for recording marriages starting in 1695 to the Protestant Episcopal Church and their parishes. Therefore, during the colonial period, parish registers became the only place marriages were recorded.

By 1777, the Clerk of the County Court was required by the Maryland General Assembly to supply marriage licenses.

Marriage licenses during this time period consisted of:

  • Name of bride and groom
  • Date of license
  • Sometimes name of minister performing ceremony

Marriage licenses were not, however, always obtained by all those getting married. Those excused from obtaining licences included:

  • Quakers, due to religious practices
  • African-Americans, until 1777
  • Couples who's marriage banns were published for three Sunday's in the bride's resident county

A license created does not mean the marriage took place.

Starting in 1865, the county court was required to record all vital events including marriages and send a copy to the Secretary of the Senate. The individual performing the marriage brought a copy of the marriage license back to the court to have the actual date of marriage recorded in the marriage register books.

Marriage records beginning in 1865 contained:

  • Names of bride and groom
  • Age of bride and groom
  • Race of bride and groom
  • Residence of bride and groom
  • Marital status of bride and groom (single or widowed)
  • Occupation of bride and groom
  • Date of license
  • Date of marriage
  • Minister’s information including residence

Why the Record Was Created

The creation of marriage records allowed the local clergy to record the religious sacraments utilized by their congregation. Later, the records were obtained by the Secretary of the State to keep track of the population and demographics in the state.

Record Reliability

These records are generally reliable but may be subject to error.

Related Websites

Related Wiki Articles

Maryland Vital Records: Marriages

Contributions to This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. Guidelines are available to help you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide. If you would like to get more involved join the WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the Wiki Article: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.

Examples of Source Citations for a Record in This Collection

  • United States. Bureau of the Census. 12th census, 1900, digital images, From FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: September 29, 2006), Arizona Territory, Maricopa, Township 1, East Gila, Salt River Base and Meridian; sheet 9B, line 71.
  • Mexico, Distrito Federal, Catholic Church Records, 1886-1933, digital images, from FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: April 22, 2010), Baptism of Adolfo Fernandez Jimenez, 1 Feb. 1910, San Pedro Apóstol, Cuahimalpa, Distrito Federal, Mexico, film number 0227023.

Sources of information for This Collection

The suggested format for citing FamilySearch Historical Collections is found in the following article: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.


 

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