North Carolina, County Marriage Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
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North Carolina, County Marriages, 1762-1979 .
|This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.|
|North Carolina, United States|
|Flag of North Carolina|
|Location of North Carolina|
|Record Type||Marriage Records|
- 1 What is in the Collection?
- 2 Coverage Table
- 3 Collection Content
- 4 How Do I Search the Collection?
- 5 I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?
- 6 I Can’t Find Who I’m Looking for, What Now?
- 7 Known Issues with This Collection
- 8 Citing This Collection
- 9 How You Can Contribute
What is in the Collection?
The collection consists of an index and images of marriage records from North Carolina county courthouses for the years 1762 to 1979. These records include licenses, marriage applications, marriage bonds, marriage certificates, marriage packets and cohabitation registers. Currently, portions of the following counties are represented in this collection: Alamance, Alexander, Anson, Ashe, Beaufort, Bladen, Buncombe, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Camden, Carteret, Caswell, Catawba, Chatham, Cherokee, Chowan, Cleveland, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Davidson, Davie, Duplin, Durham, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Franklin, Gaston, Gates, Granville, Halifax, Hanover, Hyde, Johnston, Lincoln, Macon, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Northampton, Pitt, Richmond, Rowan, Surry, Wilkes. This collection is 46% complete. Additional records will be added as they are completed.
A coverage table for this collection is available in the wiki article North Carolina County Marriage Records Coverage Table (FamilySearch Historical Records).
To see a coverage map of FamilySearch's holdings of North Carolina marriages, click here.
Bonds usually list the following information:
- Names of bondsmen (one is usually groom)
- Name of bride
- Date of bond
- Place of residence of bride and groom (normally the bond was supposed to be filed in the county where the bride resided)
- Parent’s names were occasionally given on bonds from the 1850’s and 1860’s
Indexed register of marriages usually lists the following information:
- Name of groom
- Name of bride
- County of residence
- Ages of bride and groom
- Date of license
- Date of marriage
- By whom married
- Place of marriage
Licenses usually list the following information:
- Name of groom
- Name of bride
- Names of parents of bride and groom
- Places of residence of bride and groom
- Date of license
- Place where license was issued
- Date married (if a marriage then took place)
- Person performing marriage
- Age of bride and groom (on later licenses after about 1872)
- Race of bride and groom (on later licenses after about 1872)
- Date of birth (on later certificates)
- Whether parents were living (on later certificates)
Cohabitation registers usually list the following information:
- Name of bride
- Name of groom
- Place married
- Name of person who performed the marriage
- Date of marriage
Whenever possible, FamilySearch makes images available for all users. However, ultimate rights to view images on our website are granted by the record custodians. Some of the images in this collection are only available for viewing if you are a registered FamilySearch user. You can register for a free FamilySearch account here. For additional information about image restrictions, please see the Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections page.
How Do I Search the Collection?
To begin your search it is helpful to know the name of your ancestor along with some other identifying information such as:
- The county where the marriage occurred.
- The approximate marriage date.
- The marriage place.
- The name of the intended spouse.
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.
View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒ Select the "County Category"
⇒ Select the "Record Type, Volume, and Year Range" which takes you to the images.
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?
Use the locator information found in the index (such as page, entry, or certificate number) to locate your ancestors in the marriage records. When you have located your ancestor’s marriage record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example:
- 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 parent’s 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 employment records or other types of records such as 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.
- Use the marriage number to identify previous marriages.
- 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. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume. 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 with the same family number.
|Don't overlook FHL Keyword North Carolina, Marriage Records items in the FamilySearch Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see the wiki article North Carolina Archives and Libraries.|
Additional Information About These Records
Information on marriages is generally handwritten on pre-printed forms. Some eighteenth century bonds were written out by hand. During later years the information was typed. Licenses and registers may be arranged alphabetically by the grooms’ names or chronologically within a year. Sometimes records are separated by race.
For the period 1741-1868, marriages were performed after the posting of bonds or banns. Banns were the public announcement of an intended marriage made a few weeks before the actual marriage. They could be posted at the church or another public place for a given period of time. This would allow community members to express any objections to the marriage.
Bonds are promises of payment made by the groom and another person, many times a relative of the bride, if the groom contracted an illegal marriage. The bond was given to the minister or county official usually in the county where the bride resided at the time of the marriage and later returned to the county clerk.
Marriage licenses were rarely preserved before 1851. At that time a law required that all justices and ministers who performed marriages had to return the licenses to the county clerk who had issued them along with a marriage certificate. In 1868 the power to issue marriage license was given to the registers of deeds.
Cohabitation records were created in 1866 after the General Assembly passed an act allowing former slaves to register their pre-emancipation marriages before the county clerk or justice of the peace. Most registered before September 1, 1866.
Early marriage records such as bonds and banns were to ensure that no impediment to the marriage existed (such as another spouse). Licenses empowered the minister or justice of the peace to perform the marriage. Marriage certificates proved that the rite of matrimony had been legally performed. Registers were created as indexes to the original licenses and certificates.
Information included on marriage records is usually considered fairly reliable. Sometimes the bride or groom would lie about their age. If someone other than the groom, a relative or friend applied for the license, he may not have known all the information called for on the license.
Known Issues with This Collection
For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.
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.
- "North Carolina, County Marriages, 1762-1979." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing Office of Archives and History, Division of Archives and Records. State Archive of North Carolina and various county Register of Deeds.
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 North Carolina, County Marriages, 1762-1979.|
|The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for North Carolina, County Marriages, 1762-1979.|
How You Can Contribute
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