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Val wish Id never started
29-08-15, 18:54
Henry O'Keefe and Maria thanks
http://interactive.ancestry.co.uk/1623/31280_199149-00076/7651756?backurl=http%3a%2f%2fsearch.ancestry.co.uk %2f%2fcgi-bin%2fsse.dll%3fdb%3dLMAmarriages%26h%3d7651756%26 ti%3d5538%26indiv%3dtry%26gss%3dpt%26ssrc%3dpt_t67 37403_p-1235602711_kpidz0q3d-1235602711z0q26pgz0q3d32768z0q26pgplz0q3dpid&ssrc=pt_t6737403_p-1235602711_kpidz0q3d-1235602711z0q26pgz0q3d32768z0q26pgplz0q3dpid&backlabel=ReturnRecord

As although this has not been signed there is a marriage record

JudithM
29-08-15, 19:53
As the marriage appears on the GRO index for that quarter I would say yes the marriage went ahead but somehow this copy of the register wasn't signed. Bear in mind that when a marriage takes place in church there are two marriage registers (one kept by the church and probably eventually lodged with the one diocesan archive at the county record office, the othr sent to the registrar when full) as well as the certificate to fill in and sometimes omissions were/are made - this doesn't negate the legality of the marriage.

Val wish Id never started
29-08-15, 21:58
Thanks Judith :)

AntonyM
30-08-15, 11:06
If it were just a single entry completed like that I would suspect that the marriage didn't take place, and the vicar had prepared the entry in advance (very much against the rules). But there seem to quite a number of entries like it in the register so it looks more like a vicar who didn't know what he was doing with the registration side of things. Even today registrars get very frustrated by some of the returns sent in by clergy who have made mistakes.

The whole issue about the legality of the marriage is an interesting one - a mistake on the paperwork wouldn't necessarily make a marriage illegal or invalid so long as the prescribed vows are made in front of witnesses and the place is licensed for marriages to take place. Another question is whether it could be argued to be void or voidable - a complex issue best explained in "Marriage Law for Genealogists" by Rebecca Probert, which is a very interesting book on the whole subject that I strongly recommend.

JudithM isn't quite correct when she says that they had two registers - a religious premises where there is a person authorised to register marriages (usually the vicar) has a single marriage register, issued to them for the purpose. At the end of every quarter, the authorised person at the church has to copy out the details of any marriages in their register and submit them to the local superintendent registrar who then passes them on to GRO with their own returns. CofE churches after 1837 were generally authorised to register marriages and keep a register for the purpose.

What you do find is in most non CofE churches, where marriages could take place after 1837, they didn't have an authorised person and a registrar would need to "attend" to register (bringing a register with them) and sometimes those churches kept their own version of marriage books with details of the marriages they conducted. I often find examples of those in Catholic marriages in my family - always worth looking for because the church copy, even though it is in Latin, can contain much more information about the couple than the official civil register does.

Olde Crone Holden
30-08-15, 11:17
Antony

I've always found this an interesting subject and my take on the validity (or otherwise) of a marriage is that if two "bodies", one male, one female, exchanged vows in front of two witnesses and a person authorised to perform a marriage AND both were free to marry each other, then the marriage is valid even if they used fictitious names, didn't sign the register etc etc.

"In front of two witnesses" must go back to the time when people mostly couldn't sign their names and when church records were not kept, so the witnesses would be the only proof a marriage had taken place.

Scottish law is different of course, and witnesses were not required at one time, which must have been very convenient if you subsequently got fed up of your spouse! Who could prove you had ever married?

OC

AntonyM
30-08-15, 11:43
It is the vows in front of witnesses that is the legally required bit of a marriage (plus the banns, licence or giving notice legalities) , although strangely the person conducting the ceremony doesn't need to be authorised, but the premises it takes place in do. Using false names would certainly invalidate the marriage though ( that is covered in one of the vows).

In Scotland the laws have always been different and there were various different ways in which a marriage could be valid such as "marriage by cohabitation & repute".

What has never been a legal way to get married (despite current fashion and myth) is anything involving "handfasting" or jumping over broomsticks.

The book I recommended above explains it all very well.

JudithM
30-08-15, 12:03
If it were just a single entry completed like that I would suspect that the marriage didn't take place, and the vicar had prepared the entry in advance (very much against the rules). But there seem to quite a number of entries like it in the register so it looks more like a vicar who didn't know what he was doing with the registration side of things. Even today registrars get very frustrated by some of the returns sent in by clergy who have made mistakes.

The whole issue about the legality of the marriage is an interesting one - a mistake on the paperwork wouldn't necessarily make a marriage illegal or invalid so long as the prescribed vows are made in front of witnesses and the place is licensed for marriages to take place. Another question is whether it could be argued to be void or voidable - a complex issue best explained in "Marriage Law for Genealogists" by Rebecca Probert, which is a very interesting book on the whole subject that I strongly recommend.

JudithM isn't quite correct when she says that they had two registers - a religious premises where there is a person authorised to register marriages (usually the vicar) has a single marriage register, issued to them for the purpose. At the end of every quarter, the authorised person at the church has to copy out the details of any marriages in their register and submit them to the local superintendent registrar who then passes them on to GRO with their own returns. CofE churches after 1837 were generally authorised to register marriages and keep a register for the purpose.

What you do find is in most non CofE churches, where marriages could take place after 1837, they didn't have an authorised person and a registrar would need to "attend" to register (bringing a register with them) and sometimes those churches kept their own version of marriage books with details of the marriages they conducted. I often find examples of those in Catholic marriages in my family - always worth looking for because the church copy, even though it is in Latin, can contain much more information about the couple than the official civil register does.

Have to disagree Antony, as a churchwarden I know that we are issued with 2 registers which are both filled in at the time of the marriage, quite apart from the quarterly returns. When the two registers are full one is sent to the local registrars office the other is retained by our church (CofE by the way) and eventually deposited at the County records office which also serves as the diocesan archive.
If this were not the case how would you account for the fact that marriage registers can be consulted at registrars offices (or at least certificates can be requested from them) but are also available to consult either at the church or the records office depending on their age.

AntonyM
30-08-15, 12:16
Have to disagree Antony, as a churchwarden I know that we are issued with 2 registers which are both filled in at the time of the marriage, quite apart from the quarterly returns. When the two registers are full one is sent to the local registrars office the other is retained by our church (CofE by the way) and eventually deposited at the County records office which also serves as the diocesan archive.
If this were not the case how would you account for the fact that marriage registers can be consulted at registrars offices (or at least certificates can be requested from them) but are also available to consult either at the church or the records office depending on their age.

My apologies Judith - no doubt you are correct, I'll have to talk to the Buckinghamshire office where I worked as a deputy, as I think they work a slightly different system !

JudithM
30-08-15, 12:22
Further to the above Antony here's an extract from the GRO Guidebook for Clergy (my highlighting of relevant words):

13
4 Registrations
Marriage registers
4.1 Section 55 of the Marriage Act 1949 requires that the marriage must be registered in
duplicate immediately after the ceremony has taken place.
4.2 Where a marriage takes place in a building which has its own set of registers, these
must be used. The only exception to this is where a couple plan to marry in a
building which is then temporarily closed for repairs or rebuilding. The marriage is
then registered in the registers of the closed building.
4.3 Where a marriage takes place in a building which has no registers the registers from
the parish church (or nearest parish church) should be used.
4.4 A marriage by special licence, elsewhere than in a church, should be recorded in the
books of the parish church of the parish in which the place of marriage is situated.
Where such a marriage takes place in a church in an extra parochial place the
marriage should be recorded in the books of the nearest parish church.
4.5 If the building is being shared with a non-conformist denomination you should not
use the registers issued to them.
For further guidance on the use of marriage registers including for the marriage of
housebound or detained persons please refer to the Faculty Office booklet “Anglican
Marriage in England and Wales. A guide to the law for Clergy.”
4.6 The entry must only be completed by the Clerk in Holy Orders who solemnised the
marriage ceremony.
4.7 The entry must be in the next available numbered blank space in each duplicate
register using registration ink. If you make the entry at different places in the two
registers, please do not alter the numbers. Instead, make a note in the margins of
both books of the entry number to refer to in the other register e.g. “This marriage is
recorded at entry number….. in the duplicate register”.
4.8 If you need to spoil an entry, please ring GRO for advice.

AntonyM
30-08-15, 13:19
Judith - you are quite right and just shows we never stop learning. In my role as a deputy registrar you have no dealings with the management of church registers other than occasional sight of the quarterly returns and it just shows that the registrar who explained the system to me didn't give me the full story. The only bit I do know is that these days copy certificates are computer generated from the info on the quarterly returns, because some of the church registers can take years to get filled !

Thank you for correcting me.

Val wish Id never started
30-08-15, 14:04
amazing what facts you get from one little question ,:) thanks all very interesting reading.

Lin Fisher
30-08-15, 16:47
I read this last night but didn't know the answer. Lovely to hear the correct info and I have learnt quite a lot from it. As Val said very interesting reading.

Janet in Yorkshire
30-08-15, 18:07
I concur with Judith - there are two marriage registers in our church safe, which are both got out and placed on a table in the vestry before a marriage ceremony takes place.

My partner's niece was married in a RC church a few years ago.( The couple had previously had a civil marriage abroad in the home country of the groom which was recognised in the UK.) After the UK church ceremony, the couple entered the vestry to sign the church register, but as it was a religious ceremony only, the registrar was not in attendance.)
The bride's parents had married in the same RC church about 30 years earlier - as a bridesmaid, I went into the vestry and two registers were signed; one belonged to the church but I think the other had been brought by the registrar, who had been present in the vestry, with the door open so that she could hear the exchange of vows. I think the bride may have been given two certificates - one from the registrar recognising that a legal marriage had taken place, another from the priest recognising that in the eyes of God, the bride had married in accordance with her faith. I was quite shocked that at some point during the ceremony the RC bride received a blessing, whilst the C of E groom didn't.
Nowadays I just find all these things "interesting."

Jay

Olde Crone Holden
30-08-15, 18:18
Oooh, didn't we, on here years ago, find a marriage which was the only marriage which had taken place at that church for one hundred or more years and the register wasn't full? The local RO did not have the relevant register but the GRO had had the marriage as a quarterly return. I remeber a big discussion about why the GRO had the marriage but the local RO didn't. We thought the vicar must have bypassed the local RO.

OC

AntonyM
30-08-15, 21:46
My partner's niece was married in a RC church a few years ago.( The couple had previously had a civil marriage abroad in the home country of the groom which was recognised in the UK.) After the UK church ceremony, the couple entered the vestry to sign the church register, but as it was a religious ceremony only, the registrar was not in attendance.



Which would be correct because although the church would be happy to conduct a nuptial mass, which may have contained some or all of the religious marriage service , they couldn't sign the legal marriage register because in law they were already married so the RC service wasn't legally a wedding at all.

These days, the opposite is more common. Frequently as a registrar we conducted simple marriages for couples, usually with just the couple and 2 witnesses present, the couple then go off abroad somewhere exotic with friends and family for their "wedding" which (often unknown to most of the people attending) isn't actually a legal ceremony at all. In some countries it avoids complicated legal formalities.

Christine in Herts
01-09-15, 00:02
Antony

I've always found this an interesting subject and my take on the validity (or otherwise) of a marriage is that if two "bodies", one male, one female, exchanged vows in front of two witnesses and a person authorised to perform a marriage AND both were free to marry each other, then the marriage is valid even if they used fictitious names, didn't sign the register etc etc.

"In front of two witnesses" must go back to the time when people mostly couldn't sign their names and when church records were not kept, so the witnesses would be the only proof a marriage had taken place.

Scottish law is different of course, and witnesses were not required at one time, which must have been very convenient if you subsequently got fed up of your spouse! Who could prove you had ever married?

OC

One of the Gresham College series of lectures covered this along with a whole lot of other interesting things connected with identity. The point was made that part of the purpose of all the ceremony surrounding events such as weddings was to make sure that people would remembered that they had happened - in the same way as the Beating of the Bounds ceremonies for knowing the parish boundaries.
Here's the link. I can't recall which lecture it was: http://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/past?keys=Identity&field_speakers_nid=9564&field_lecture_date[value][year]=&term_node_tid_depth=All
(Professor Jane Caplan, 2014)

Christine

Olde Crone Holden
01-09-15, 09:20
Thanks Christine, that certainly makes sense regarding the ceremony.

OC