Discover your English ancestor in the London marriage licenses. An entry may reveal your ancestor’s residence, age at the time of the license, occupation, and father’s name.
The records are presented in a Portable Document Format (PDF). You can search the whole text of the document with the full text option. This will allow you to search by name, parish, or even other facts such as occupation or father’s name. We have provided search tips below. Each entry can vary, but most will include a combination of the following facts:
Spouse’s marital status
Spouse’s father’s name
Name of the previous spouse if widowed
London Marriage Licenses was compiled by Colonel Joseph Chester and edited by Joseph Foster. A memoir of Colonel Chester can be found on images six through eighteen. The publication is an index of licenses found at the following offices: The Bishop of London’s Office, Dean and Chapter of Westminster’s Office, Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Vicar-General’s Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
A marriage license was acquired as a replacement of marriage by banns. This meant that an announcement in the parish of the intended marriage was not required. A marriage license was granted for a fee. The groom and the father of the bride had to sign a bond and declare that there were no impediments to the marriage. A couple may have chosen to be married by license instead of banns for a number of reasons, such as if the couple did not have a connection to the parish, if the couple wanted to get married quickly, or, in some cases, if the couple wished to demonstrate their financial standing by paying the fee to acquire a marriage license.
The search feature uses direct search. This means that it will search for the exact word or phrase you type in the search field. There are no name variants available through this format.
All search results will bring you to the page on which your search word has been found and not to an individual transcript. You can then read through the page to find your result.
A name search will return results that have the search terms on the same page within the document. This means that searching for John Smith will return pages where the names 'John' and 'Smith' occur. Your search may return the name William Smith or John Brown. By inserting quotations around the full name, the search function will locate the terms together (for example, “John Smith”).
To search for your ancestor by name, write it as it would appear on the document. For example, if your relative was known as ‘Will’, it is likely that the name used for official records was ‘William’.