Marriage licences, allegations and bonds

Marriage banns were read out in church for three successive Sundays before an intended marriage whereas marriage by licence had the advantage of being quicker and more private.

Licences: this was the document given to the couple and only a few examples of marriage licences survive in archive collections.

Allegations and bonds: to obtain a marriage licence in Hampshire, one of the parties (usually the groom) would appear before the Bishop’s official (surrogate) and make a declaration, giving information about the parties intending to marry and confirming there were no impediments to the marriage taking place. If one party was a minor (under 21) a parent or guardian would also appear to give their consent. Until 1823 a bond was also required, signed by kinsmen who bound themselves to pay a large sum of money if the marriage were later found to be unlawful.

For Hampshire, a large number of allegations and bonds survive in the Diocese of Winchester collection (ref 21M65/E14) for the period 1689 to 1993 (restrictions may apply to view records less than 30 years old). They are not listed individually on our online catalogue and there is no index available for the period 1838-1993 but there is a paper index for 1689-1837. In addition, some earlier marriage allegations for 1607-1640 and 1669-1680 survive in Memoranda books (ref 21M65/D1/3-10 and 13-14). A paper index is available for each period.