New Jersey, County Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Access the records: New Jersey County Marriages 1682-1956 .
Collection Time Period
This collection covers marriages from 1682 to 1956.
Marriage information is generally handwritten on sheets of paper. After 1848, information was recorded on pre-printed forms. After 1897, forms were required from the witnesses and the bride and groom requiring additional information.
The earliest law requiring marriage registration was in 1673, but few counties complied with the law. Marriages were performed either by a clergyman or justice of the peace. In 1719, law required that marriages have a license or banns published three weeks before the marriage. In the colonial period, it is estimated that most marriages were by banns, but about 25 percent were by license. Some marriage bonds from 1711-1795 do exist. Beginning in 1795, marriages were recorded by county courts of common pleas. State registration of marriages began in May 1848.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the data and images published on FamilySearch.org Historical Records. It may include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.
“New Jersey County Marriages 1682-1956,” database, FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org); from various county courthouses throughout New Jersey. FHL microfilm, 88 reels, Family History Library Salt Lake City, Utah.
Information about creating source citations for FamilySearch Historical Collections is listed in the wiki article Help:How to Create Source Citations For FamilySearch Historical Records Collections.
The earlier records usually contain less information, but often include the following:
- Name of bride
- Name of groom
- Date of marriage
- County of marriage
- Residence of bride and groom
After 1848, the following information is usually included:
- Date of marriage
- Name of bride and groom
- Age of bride and groom
- Whether single or widowed
- By whom married with their office and residence
- Where married
- Names of parents
After 1897, the following additional information is included:
- Number of times previously married and details of previous marriage including whether the marriage was terminated by death or divorce
- Any impediments to the marriage which might exist
- How long the marriage had been contemplated and if the parents were aware of the marriage
How to Use the Records
Begin your search by finding your ancestors in the index. Name indexes to marriages make it possible to access a specific marriage record quickly. Remember that these indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
When searching the index 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
Use the locator information found in the index (such as page, entry, or certificate number) to locate your ancestors in the marriage records. Some on-line indexes, such as indexes to FamilySearch Historical Records, will take you directly to an image. 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.
- 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 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.
Why the Record Was Created
Marriage records were created to legalize marital relationships and to protect the interests of the wife and other heirs.
Information included on marriage records is usually considered fairly reliable. Sometimes the bride or groom would lie about their age. If someone other than the groom, a relative or friend applied for the license, he may not have known all the information called for on the license.
Known Issues with This Collection
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Contributions to This Article
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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.
The format for citing FamilySearch Historical Collections, including how to cite individual archives is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
- "New Jersey, County Marriages, 1682-1956" images and index, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org: accessed 18 November 2011). entry for William B Smith and Lucinda Anderson, married in Warrren, New Jersey; citing Marriage Records FHL microfilm 368,920; Warren County Courthouse, Belvidere, New Jersey, United States.