Marriages by licence

For a church wedding, marriage banns were read out in church for three successive Sundays before an intended marriage. A marriage by licence had the advantage of being quicker and more private.


A marriage licence was the document given to the couple. Only a few examples of marriage licences are held in archive collections.

Allegations and bond

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. They would provide information about the couple and confirm 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.

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