New Brunswick Marriage and Divorce Records (National Institute)
The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Research: New Brunswick Ancestors by Althea Douglas, MA, CG(C). The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
Beginning in 1812, the original counties were required to register marriages. Not all of the register books have survived, but of those that have, some early ones have been transcribed and published. Robert Fellows offers some cautions in his Researching Your Ancestors in New Brunswick (1979):
The Marriage Registers have their limitations. Over the years the indexes to some volumes have been lost… When indexes exist they are often by male name only …mistakes often occur. Names are sometimes left out or spelt wrong. (page 115)
They are available on microfilm from the PANB who list. Early Northumberland County marriages are listed among the Justices of the Peace records of their Courts of Quarter Session.
|| 1846-1888 §§|
|| 1812-1888 §|
|| missing **|
|| 1792-1887 *|
| St. John
|| 1819-1887 *** §|
|| 1790-1887 §§|
|| 1812-1888 §§|
* Early Northumberland County marriages are listed among the Justices of the Peace records of their Courts of Quarter Session.
** Père Henri Langlois, O.F.M. (1901-1968) compiled an eight volume, typescript record of marriages in Madawaska and the region of the upper St. John River, from 1792 to about 1940. This is essentially the Diocese of Edmundston and includes parishes in Aroostook in Maine. It is available at both the PANB in Fredericton, and LAC in Ottawa. The latter’s bound photocopy of the original onion-skin sheets is titled Dictionnaire Généalogique de Madawaska. Entries are alphabetical by family name, i.e. Volume I is A-B, etc.
*** Early Marriage Records of New Brunswick: Saint John City and County from the British Conquest to 1839, Introductory Note and edited by Sociologist, B. Wood-Holt (Saint John: Holland House Inc., 1986), a somewhat curious compilation from many sources that probably includes almost all marriages in the Saint John region prior to 1840. Her notes are informative and the thorough indexing makes this a useful research tool.
§ Ruby M. Cusack has transcribed and published the Saint John County registers, C 1839-1847, and D 1847-1853; as well as Kings County Register A, 1812-1844 and Register B, 1844-1867. John R. Elliott has published Kings County Registers C and D (1867-1888). See their listing in Generations. As well, Ruby Cusack has a website.
§§ George H. Hayward has published York County Volume 1, 1812-1837 and some for Carleton County, Ken Kanner has published the early Marriages for Albert and Westmorland Counties, see listings in Generations “Information Sheets”.
Marriage Bonds 1810-1932
Another searchable database index is online for Marriage Bonds:
|| Index to Marriage Bonds 1810-1932|
Marriage Bonds were required when banns were not read in the churches or when the clergyman did not know both of the parties. The bond guaranteed a payment from the would-be-groom or his co-signer if the proposed marriage did not take place. The names of all prospective brides and grooms, along with all co-signers to the bond have been included in the index. Do consult the full “Introduction” to this index, which has useful information, and contains a serious warning:
|Researchers should note that marriage bonds must not be equated with marriage records and, more particularly, they must not be used as conclusive proof of marriage. Rather, they must be viewed only as an intention to marry, or to put it in more modern terms, as evidence of an “engagement.”|
The bond was to protect the woman from a ‘breach of promise’ situation. The bonds are available on microfilm only, and the complex details of their arrangement and numbering is explained in full on the Internet site.
Divorce was once a matter for Parliament. Brian Gilchrist’sIndex to Canadian Parliamentary Divorces, 1867-1930 (Toronto: privately published) indexes all names, both partners, children etc. Some individual’s petitions or records are held by the Library and Archives of Canada, check the their website, Government of Canada Files database, key word “Divorce”—but after 1916 you must apply to the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Council, Senate of Canada.
As well, on the Internet, Hugh Armstrong’s Genealogy Site, contains material on “Canadian Parliamentary Divorces to 1946”. An Introduction gives an excellent summary of the history of divorce in Canada, and it is only one of a number of lists, indexes, and how-to-do offerings.
Government or Civil Registers of family data are sometimes found in the Township Books, kept by the Nova Scotia townships, as described earlier in the course on Early Settlement. Occasionally there are records of marriages by Justices of the Peace in very early New Brunswick County Quarter Session records. The only other sources are Church or Missionaries’ registers, or in family bibles, diaries or personal letters.
Nova Scotia 1763-1784
The territory now New Brunswick, was Sunbury County and the northern portion of Cumberland County in Nova Scotia, and governed from Halifax. Nova Scotia did not register births or deaths, though some are found in family listings in Township Books. Church registers and tombstones (few survive from this era) are the basic source of the earliest vital records. Marriage could be by banns, proclaimed several times in the parish church, or by license.
The Province of Nova Scotia (PANS) holds a series of Marriage Bonds that includes the years 1763, 1765, 1770-1780, 1782, when New Brunswick was still part of Nova Scotia, as well as 1784-1799, 1801-1850, 1854-1856, 1858-1864. There is no general index, but they are arranged in chronological order. The PANS does not loan microfilm.
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