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Wales Marriage Bonds
Most marriages in Wales could only take place after:
- either banns were read out in the parish church, where the wedding was due to take place, on three consecutive weeks. This announced the couples' intention to marry
- or a licence was granted to the couple by the appropriate ecclesiastical authority. In order to obtain a licence the couple had to make an allegation, a document in which the couple, or sometimes just the groom, declared that there were no impediments to the marriage. Additionally, a marriage bond was signed which set a financial penalty on the groom and his bondsman (usually a relative or close friend). If the the allegation should prove to be false, this sum was forfeited. The sums involved were usually set deliberately high and so licences tended to be only used by relatively wealthy families. Church law stipulated that the marriage bond should state where the marriage would take place and, on some occasion, a choice of more than one parish in given.
The National Library of Wales holds over 90,000 Welsh marriage bonds, covering the period from 1616 to 1837.
- Bangor: 1757-1931
- Brecon / Aberhonddu: 1661-1867
- Llandaf: 1665-1941
- St Asaph / Llanelwy: 1690-1938
- St David's / Tyddewi : 1661-1867
An on-line searchable index, for bonds issued up to 1837, is available through the library's ISYS system.