Both the British state and the church had an interest in record keeping, and a 1538 act of Parliament required ministers in the Church of England to record baptisms, marriages, and burials. In 1754, Hardwicke’s Marriage Act of 1753 came into effect, requiring a formal ceremony be performed by Anglican clergy in the parish of one of the participants following the publication of banns, or following a bishop’s or archbishop’s licence, and in the presence of two witnesses. (There were exemptions allowed for Jewish and Quaker marriages.) In 1837, civil registration began, which removed many of the restrictions imposed by Hardwicke’s Act. This database includes parish records with dates ranging from 1754 up until 1935.
Couples were usually married in the bride’s parish. Marriage records typically include the bride and groom’s names, residence, date and location of the marriage, names of witnesses, condition (bachelor, spinster, widow, or widower) and the name of the officiant. Some records may also include the father’s name and occupation. The early records may contain less detail.