Maryland, Church Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Maryland, Church Records, 1668-1995 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Maryland, United States
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Flag of Maryland
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Location of Maryland
Record Description
Record Type Marriage Index
Collection years 1668-1995
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites



What is in the Collection?

The collection consists of an index to selected marriage records throughout Maryland for the years 1668 to 1995.

Collection Content

The key genealogical facts in these records include:

  • Names of principle individuals
  • Age
  • Race
  • Residence
  • Marital status
  • Occupation
  • Date of event
  • Minister’s information including residence

How Do I Search the Collection?

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

  • The name
  • Identifying information such the approximate marriage date, place, or their ages

Search by Name by visiting the Collection Page:
Fill in the requested information on the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the individuals in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names, or variations of their name, throughout their life.
  • If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
  • Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the wiki article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. Download a copy of the record, or extract the genealogical information needed. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details. Add this new information to your records of each family. The information may also lead you to other records about your ancestors. The following examples show ways you can use the information:

  • 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.
  • Use the parents' birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment records or military records.
  • 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.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • 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.

I Can't Find Who I'm Looking for, What Now?

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names.
  • Look for another index. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby localities.
  • Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor.

General Information About These Records

Beginning in 1640, the Maryland General Assembly required the clergy to post marriage banns and keep registers of marriages. Marriage Banns alerted the community 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 always obtained by all those getting married. Those excused from obtaining licenses 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

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


Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.


Collection Citation:

"Maryland, Church Records, 1668-1995." Database. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, Baltimore.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for Maryland, Church Records, 1668-1995.

How You Can Contribute

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.