This database contains Church of England marriage records and banns from the parish of Wigan, which was historically located in Lancashire.
Before civil registration in England began in 1837, key events in a person’s life were typically recorded by the church rather than the state. Parish records are the best source of vital record information in England before the 19th century and remain an important source thereafter.
The 1753 Marriage Act required that marriages in England and Wales be performed in a church, by banns or license, and recorded in a separate register on printed forms. Thus, after the act took effect in 1754, marriage banns typically list
- marital status (bachelor, widow, spinsters, etc.)
Other banns may list only names and dates. A note about when the marriage itself was performed was sometimes added to the bottom of the record.
In 1837, new legislation required that the following details also be recorded:
- marital status
- fathers’ names and professions
Banns and Licences
Legally, the couple was required to be married either by banns or by licence.
If married by banns, the couple was required to announce or publish their intention to marry for three consecutive Sundays. If no one objected to the intended marriage, then the couple was allowed to marry. Just because banns were published does not guarantee the marriage actually took place.
Couples usually married by licence if they didn’t want to wait the required three weeks for the publication of banns, or if the bride and groom lived in different dioceses. Marriage by licence was also common among the upper class.
For earlier Wigan marriages, see the link provided in the Related Data Collections section on this page.