How to read a mar­riage cer­tifi­cate

Mar­riage cer­tifi­cates are one of the vi­tal build­ing blocks of a fam­ily tree, con­tain­ing a great deal of in­for­ma­tion about the cou­ple and their fam­ily.

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was in­tro­duced on 1 Jan­uary 1855 up to 1940. In­dexes are avail­able up to 2014 and copies of more re­cent reg­is­ters can be pur­chased through the site. scot­land­speo­ple op­er­ates on a credit ba­sis, but luck­ily the in­dexes show both spouses’ names right from the start so you can be fairly sure you’ve found the right en­try. Although civil regis­tra­tion started later in Scot­land than in Eng­land, the in­for­ma­tion pro­vided in the mar­riage reg­is­ters is ex­cep­tion­ally in­for­ma­tive for ge­neal­o­gists – par­tic­u­larly for the first year that the new sys­tem was in­tro­duced.

Scot­tish mar­riages in 1855 give you the usual in­for­ma­tion such as name, age, oc­cu­pa­tion and place of res­i­dence, as well as stat­ing whether it was the se­cond or third mar­riage, if ei­ther party had been wid­owed, how many chil­dren were born from pre­vi­ous mar­riages and how many of those chil­dren had since died. They give the bride and groom’s birth place and year of regis­tra­tion, their fa­thers’ names and oc­cu­pa­tions, plus their moth­ers’ names and maiden sur­names.

Un­for­tu­nately, record­ing this amount of in­for­ma­tion was too oner­ous so ques­tions about birth­place and pre­vi­ous mar­riages were dropped af­ter 1855, but in­for­ma­tion about births was re­in­stated in 1972.

The re­cent digi­ti­sa­tion of Ir­ish civil regis­tra­tion reg­is­ters has trans­formed Ir­ish re­search. Records of non- Catholic mar­riages from 1845 and all mar­riages from 1864 up un­til 1941 ( mar­riage records are sub­ject to a 75-year clo­sure) are freely avail­able at

civil­records.irish­ge­neal­ogy.ie. North­ern Ir­ish mar­riages af­ter 1922 can be searched us­ing bit.ly/ NIdi­rect, where copies of cer­tifi­cates for coun­ties in the north back to 1845 can be pur­chased on­line.

Un­for­tu­nately, record­ing this amount of in­for­ma­tion was too oner­ous

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