Chapter 3: MARRIAGE ENTRIES
The purpose of this chapter is to provide information about the marriage which will enable you to extract it. Sample parish and civil marriage entries will be given. The parts of each entry will be explained so that you will be able to recognize the pertinent information.
A marriage entry is a brief legal description of a long elaborate ceremony. The earlierst marriage entries were very brief, often giving only the date, given names of bride and groom, and the name of the officiator. Gradually they were enlarged, complete names given, parents' names added, witnesses listed, and occupations and other information relating to the betrothed included. The Council of Trent established specific procedures and standards for marriages performed by the officers of the Catholic Church which became uniform throughout the church.
The procedure s were ordered into a logical sequence, and the marriage entry reflects that sequence. There was a presentation, confession, declaration, witnesses, marriage, and a recording of the marriage in the most marriage entries.
Marriage entries give much of the same information as christening entries; however, there are few differences. As a rule, they are longer than christening entries because two sets of parents are given. More Latin phrases and terms also appear in marriage entries.
A typical marriage entry may be composed of the following:
- Marginal notation
- Locality phrase
- Date phrase
- Officiating agent phrase
- Ceremony phrase
- Groom's information
- Bride's information
- Godparents and witnesses
- Certification and seals
Parish Marriage Entry
L'an mil sept cent quatre Ie vingt et unieme Jour de Janvier
Ie Soussigné prebre cure d'ageville ay solemnellt.
conjoint en mariage Jean deprey fils de francois deprey
manouvrier audt. ageville et Jeanette mougin son epouse audt. ageville et
Pierette dimey fille de frahsois dimey labr. et marianne
gauthier sa legitime audt. ageville les trois banns ont
été publies en messes paroissiale dudt. ageville et
controlles et Registres a chaumont et les fiancailles
precedes les dts. deprey et dimey onts signéz
presens audt. mariage pierre deprey sabotier, Simon
mougin recteur d'ecolle audt. ageville qui pareillemt.
signé L. Perier
The year one thousand seven hundred four, the twenty fjrst day of January
(I) the undersigned priest of Ageville have solemnly
joined in marriage Jean Deprey, son of Francois Deprey,
day-laborer and Jeanette Mougin his wife from said Ageville and
Pierrette Dimey, daughter of Francois Dimey, laborer and Marianne
Gauthier his legitimate (wife) from said Ageville. The three banns have
been published in parish masses of said Ageville and
recorded and registered at Chaumont and the betrothal
preceded.The said Deprey and Oimey have signed.
Present at the said marriage Pierre Deprey sabot-maker, Simon
Mougin school director from said Ageville who likewise
signed. L. Perier
Civil Marriage Entry
Mairie De housséville
Arrondissement communal De Lunéville
Du Cinquième jour complementaire An Dix De la
République française une indivisible
Acte de Mariage de Joseph GranDiDier age
de vingt sept ans, Garcon Chez son pere et tailleur d'habit
a housséville, Departement De la Meurthe, Né a Marainville
Département De Vôsges, Ie treize Du Mois de Juin Sur
les huit heures un quart de Relevé Del'an Mil Sept
Cent Soixante et quinze fils legitime De Jean Grand
DiDier et De Catherine Nicolas marchand touts Deux
vivant audit housséville, et d'autre part entre Margueritte
Picot age de trente et un ans fille et denteliere
Chez son Pere A housséville nee audit housséville
Département De la Meurthe, Ie Dix
huit Octobre De I'an Mil Sept Cent Septante et un
fille legitime De Jean Francois Picot Citoyen De Cette
Commune etant domicilier a housséville, et De Catherine
Grillion Sa Mere Défunt audit housséville, les actes
préliminaires Sont Extraits Des Régistre Depublication
faite De Mariage fait a housséville Ie vingt cinq
fructidor an Dix et affichees aux terme Delaloi, et Ie terme
enformé, Detouts lesquel Actes ils a Etéz Donnee lecture
par Moi officiers public Autermes Delaloi; Les Dits
Epoux présens, ont Declaré prendre en Mariage Joseph
Grandidier, Margueritte picot; Margueritte picot
Joseph Grandidier, En présence de Joseph Grandidier
age de Cinquante et un ans oncle audit Grandidier marchand
de housséville, Département De la Meurthe; et De Alexice
Bourcier age De quarante cinq Ans, parrain Audit Grandidier
profession De vigneron, a Marainville Departement des
Vôsges, et de Joseph houbeaut age De trente trois ans
Journallier et beaufrère a la future epouse,
A housséville département de la Meurthe
et En presence De Jean Francois picot age de Soixante
Deux ans pere légitime A lafuture Epouse, profession
De Journallier Domicillier A housseviUe, Apres quoi
Moi Jean Dominique Jeandel Maire de Cette Commune
De housséville, faisant les fonctions D'officier public De
I'etat Civil. J'ay prononce au nom de la loi
les Dits Epoux Sont unis en Mariage, et ont les dits
Epoux et temoin Signes avec Moi Ie jour avant dit
J.Grandidier Marguerite picot C. J. Grandidier
Joseph houbeaut J. Picot C. A. Bourcier
Mayoral of Housseville
Community district of Lunéville
The fifth complementary day of year ten of the
French Republic. An indivisible
marriage certificate of Joseph Grandidier, age
of twenty seven years, bachelor living at home, tailor
in Housseville, Department of Meurthe, born in Marainville
Department of Vosges, the thirteenth of the month of June after
eight fifteen in the morning of the year One thousand seven
hundred seventy five. Legitimate son of Jean Granddidier
and of Catherine Nicolas, shop-keeper, both
living at said Housseville, and of the other part between Margueritte
Picot, age of thirty one years, daughter and lace-maker,
in the home of her father at Housséville, born at said Housséville,
Department of Meurthe, the eighteenth (of)·
October of the year One thousand seven hundred seventy one,
legitimate daughter of Jean Francois Picot, citizen of this
community being a resident of Housséville, and of Catherine
Grillion, her mother deceased, of said Housséville, the
preliminary acts were extracts of the Register of publication
made for marriages made in Housséville, the twenty fifth
Fructidor, year ten, and attached by terms of the law and the term
set forth, of all the acts they have been given instructions
by me public officer of the terms of the law; the said
present engaged, have declared to take in marriage Joseph
Grandidier, Margueritte Picot; Margueritte Picot
Joseph Grandidier; in the presence of Joseph Grandidier,
age of fifty one years, uncle of the said Grandidier, shopkeeper,
of Housséville, Department of Meurthe; and of AIexice
Bourcier, age of forty five years, godfather of said Grandidier,
profession of vinedresser, of Marainville, Department of
Vosges and of Joseph Houbeaut age of thirty three years,
day-labourer and brother-in-law of the future bride,
at Housséville, department of Meurthe and in the presence
of Jean Francois Picot, age of sixty two years, legitimate
father of the future bride, profession, day laborer,
resident of Housséville, after which .
I, Jean Dominique Jeandel, mayor of this commune
of Housséville, having performing the functions of public officer of
the Civil Register. I pronounced in the name of the law
(that) the said betrothed were united in marriage, and the said
betrothed and witnesses have signed with me on the above said day.
J.Grandidier, Marquerite Picot, C. J. Grandidier,
Joseph Houbeaut, J. Picot, C. A. Bourcier
As with birth or christening entries, the marginal notation appears in the margin exactly to the left of the entry. It may consist of one word indicating the type of an entry, or it may contain the names of the groom and bride (the principal(s). Occasionally, name changes and divorces are written in the margin. These marginal notations served as an index, allowing an entry to be found easily.
In the example of a parish marriage entry, the marginal note indicates that this is a marriage entry, and that the principals' names are Jean and Pierette.
Example: Parish Entry Mariage
In the example of a civil marriage entry, the date, 5 Complémentaire 10, is noted along with the name of the groom, Joseph Grandidier.
Example: Civil Entry Cinq complémentaire
Locality Phrase ===
The parish entry contained a phrase which referred to the locality where the record was made and where the people were from. Many times the priest would record the locality at the beginning of each year or at the head of each page and simply refer to it in the entry. It wasn't until after the Council of Trent that localities were entered in each entry of the register. (This may not be the case in every register, because the Trentine format was not accepted immediately in some localities.)
The sample parish entry referred to the locality as
audt. ageville (from said Ageville). This indicates that both parents were from Ageville, as were the witnesses; however, no mention is made of the department in the entry.
Example: Parish Entry
By the time civil registers were kept in France, the content of the record was well established and the record keepers took great pride in specifying the precise locality of the record and where the participants were from.
In the civil entry, great care is taken to establish the locality. First, it gives Mairie de Housséville, the town hall of Housséville. Then it gives the arrondissement communal de lunéville and in recording the residence of the parents the entry lists the department as Meurthe.
The record keeper continues and tells where the groom was born, in Marainville, in the department of Vosges. The bride was born in Housséville, in the department of Meurthe. The localities where the bride and groom presently reside, as well as the residences of the witnesses, are also given at times by the record keepers.
Example: Civil Entry
Mairie De housséville
Arrondissement communal De Lunéville
Pre-Revolution . Civil Jurisdictions (1792 and earlier) ===
Province (province): The major territorial division of central control and is composed of a combination of many lesser units.
Duché (duchy): An estate of land ruled by a duke.
Conté (contat): An estate of land ruled by a count.
Ville (town or city): The smallest governmental unit, but may include several town or city villages (village).
Post-Revolution Civil Jurisdictions (1792 to Present)
The levels of state government are set up similar to the governmental levels in the United States.
Département: The principal division of French government and is roughly equal to a state in the United States. Presently, there are 95 departments in France.
Arrondissement: The subdivision of a department and is composed of several (3-6) cantons. It is equivalent to a county in the United States.
Canton: The subdivision of an arrondissement and is composed of several (10-40) communes. It is the basic unit for elections in the French General Assembly.
Commune (ville): Administered by a maire (mayor) and or a conseil municipal (city council) or both. It is the smallest territorial unit in France and is equivalent to a city.
Territoire (territory): Jurisdictional territory of the Capitol. It· is equivalent to the District of Columbia.
Colonie (colony): Governmental division of France outside its continental colony boundaries.
A date was required to give legality to the ceremony performed. This is generally recorded in order of day, month, and year; however, the officiating agent may have entered the day of the week and the time of day the ceremony was performed.
In a parish marriage entry, several dates could be listed:
- Engagement date
- Presentation date
- Three readings of the banns
- Wedding mass or marriage date
- Entry date
The meanings of these dates will be discussed under the Ceremony Phrase heading in this chapter.
Example: Parish Entry
L'an Mil sept cent quatre vingt et unieme Jour de Janvier
In the sample parish entry the date is recorded in order of year, day, and month: 1704 21 January. In many marriage entries, the dates of the three reading of banns are given in addition to the actual marriage date. On occasion, the announcement date is also given. With so many dates appearing in an entry, a great deal of confusion can arise as to
which date is the actual marriage date.
In the following civil entry, the date reads 5th Complementary day, year 10, which is a· French Republican Calendar date.
French civil marriage entries contain a declaration (of marriage) date and the actual marriage date. There will always be exceptions; you should remain flexible in coping with any irregularities.
Example: Civil Entry
Du Cinquième jour complémentaire An Dix De la République française
Officiating Agent Phrase
As with a christening entry, the officiating agent in a marriage entry must identify himself by name, giving his position of authority. In the earliest parish registers, the officiating agent remained anonymous; however, the Council of Trent dictated that the agent identify himself by name and state his authority. If the agent was the priest of the parish, his identification would be slightly different than deacons under his authority working in the same parish. For this reason, the priest may give his name and then his title.
Example: Parish Entry
Joseph Colobré curé du village de ...
Joseph Colobre priest of the village of . . .
par devant moi
in front of me ...
Other priests working under the authority of the parish priest would give their name and then their position relative to him, such as:
ex Iicencia parroqui (Latin)
with license of the priest
suivant la disposition du curé
according to the disposition of the priest
Avec I'autorité du curé du village ...
with the authority of the priest of the village . . .
In the example below. the prebre (pretre) cure, or village priest, is the officiating agent.
Example: Parish Entry
The officiating agent in civil records was a civil servant, not a priest. The person directly charged with keeping the record was a greffier, a registrar or court clerk.
There were times when the maire (mayor) would actually write the entry; however, most of the time the greffier would write the entry, have the participants affix their signatures, and then have the officiating agent legalize it with his signature.
par devant nous: in front of us par devant moi: before me
Maire et officier de I'état civil: mayor and officer of the civil registration de la commune de . .. of the town of ...
arrondissement de . .. district of ...
département de: ... department of
étant en la maison commune: being in the town hall
Every entry contains a word or a phrase which indicates the kind of ceremony being performed. In the earlier parish registers, it was simply the action of the verb which gave this indication.
The following verbs were all used to indicate a marriage:
conjoindre: to conjoin
marier: to marry
épouser: to espouse or marry
unir: to unite
Marriage entries made after the Council of Trent were much longer and contained whole phrases indicating different steps in the marriage ceremony.
The following phrases denote marriage:
donné la benediction nuptiale: given the nuptial blessing
d'une part ... : of the one part ...
et d'autre part...: and of the (second) other part ...
les ai épousé: (I) have married them
ay (i) solennellement conjoint en mariage:(I) have solemnly conjoined in marriage
célébré le mariage de ...: celebrated the marriage of.. . .
Between 1563 and 1792 the normal parish marriage consisted of several steps, each with their own function in the marriage ceremony. In a parish marriage entry, all or only a portion of the following steps may be mentioned:
- testimony of witnesses
- the three banns
- wedding mass and wedding
- entry date
The church marriage ceremony required the groom and bride to present themselves to the priest and declare their intention to marry. The priest obtained their individual information, such as names, parentage, age, residence, and occupation. The couple were then led in confession, wherein the priest would determine their worthiness to be married. If he found them worthy to be married, a schedule was drawn up specifying which day the banns would be read to the congregation
and when the wedding mass would be held.
The reading of the three banns gave anyone the opportunity to present evidence for or against the marriage. The actual dates these banns were read often appear in the entry. The wedding mass was the culmination of the marriage ceremony. The betrothed were presented before the altar of the church and partook of the host. The rings of banns were blessed, then the bride veiled her face as the priest gave the nuptial blessing, and the rings were exchanged. The priest recorded the marriage at this time or possibly a short time later, finalizing the marriage before the church.
The following key phrases refer to the marriage ceremony:
conjoint en mariage: conjoined in marriage
ont été or esté mariés: have been married
les trois bans ont été publiés: the three banns have been published
en messe paroissiale: in parish mass
et contrôllés (or controlés) et registrés à: and verified and registered at les fiancialles precedes: the preceding betrothal
Acte de mariage: marriage certificate
d'une parte: of the (first) part
et d'autre parte: and of the other (or second) part
que nous avons verifiés expres: that we have verified specially
lesquels nous ont requis de procéder: who have requested us to proceed
au mariage projeté entre eux: to the marriage ceremony planned be tween them
ont eu lieu: have taken place
ainsi qu'il est constaté par: such as is established by
les actes inscrits: the documents written
sur les registres de cette commune: on the registers of this town
les mêmes publications: the same publications
aucune opposition au mariage: no opposition to the marriage
nous ayant signés: we having signed
faisant droit a la réquisition: granting the request
du mariage: of the marriage
nous avons demandé aux requérans: we have asked the parties
s'ils veulent se prendre: if they want to take each other
pour mari et femme: for husband and wife
et chacun d'eux ayant repondu: and each of them having answered
affirmativement, no us avons declare: affirmatively, we have declared
et déclarons au nom: and we declare in the name
Ie présent acte en présence de: the present document in presence of
parties contractantes: contracting parties
régistres apres lecture et collation: registers after reading and agreeing
du présent acte ce qu'ils ont fait: to the present document that they have made
ici présent et consentant: here present and consenting
Régistre de publication f!!ite: register of publication made