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There is no single place to find all the birth, marriage and death records of the British overseas. However, The National Archives holds a substantial number of them, in a variety of record collections. This talk looks at civilian and military registers kept by the British authorities, and by churches, consulates and other bodies abroad. Please note that this talk does not include events at sea, which are the subject of a separate talk. Speaker Keith Mitchell joined The National Archives ten years ago and specialises in overseas birth, marriage and death records.
The Clandestine Marriages Act of 1753 marked an important development in the history of marriage by putting the requirements for a valid marriage on a statutory basis for the first time. But what was the situation before 1753, and what practical impact did the Act have on popular practice? This thorough reassessment of law and practice is of particular relevance to those tracing their ancestors. First, the universality of formal marriage increases the likelihood that a record of an ancestor's marriage will exist somewhere; secondly, parish-level studies provide us with a clearer idea of where one may need to look for a marriage; and, thirdly, success or failure in tracing a marriage can be set within the context of the marriage law and practice of the time.