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.
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