Each record includes a transcript of the original marriage books. The amount of information in each transcript will vary, but may include a combination of the following information:
Somerset is a county found in the South West of England, Taunton is its county town. It is a county full of history and beauty. Somerset has 11,500 listed buildings, 523 ancient monuments, 36 English Heritage sites and 19 National Trust sites, plus 41 parks and gardens. The city of Wells, located to the south of the Mendip Hills, is the smallest city in England. The county is also the home of the world famous Glastonbury Festival which takes place in Pilton.
The transcripts were created by the Somerset & Dorset Family History Society. There are a number of abbreviations used such as:
Bach - Bachelor
Lic - Licence
Otp – Of this parish
Spins – Spinster
Wid - Widow
Widr - Widower
After the establishment of the Anglican Church of England, Thomas Cromwell, the Vicar General, in 1538, mandated that all parishes were to keep records of marriages, baptisms and burials. Often these records were kept in a single book. The book was to be kept in a coffer, a small chest, locked by two keys. One key was held by the minister and the other by the church warden. Entries were to be made every Sunday after service. If records were not kept the church would be fined.
In 1597, a constitution of the Convocation of the Province of Canterbury was approved by Elizabeth I. It required that each parish send annual reports to the bishop. These were known as bishop transcripts. This new practice is significant for genealogist because it meant that two records were now being kept of baptisms, marriages and burials and it was double likely that the records would last. Record keeping was further improved by Hardwick’s Marriage Act in 1753. It required marriage records to be kept in a separate book with individual entries for each marriage. It dictated that each entry should record the names of the bride and groom, marital status, date, by banns or licence, officiate name and a signature or mark from the couple. In 1837, civil registration was introduced for both England and Wales. Couples were no longer required to be wed in a church, but instead could be married in the Registrar’s office.
In some parish records gaps may appear, this can be due to a number of reasons. Firstly, is the condition of the paper on which the records were written and where they were stored. Older records may have be ruined by disintegration or water damage. Also, during the Commonwealth years, form 1642 to 1650, records were neglected due to the Civil War. During this time Cromwell had ordered that marriages would be conferred by the Justice of the Peace and parish registers would be recorded by civil parish clerk. Records were given back to the church wardens and ministers after the restoration of Charles in 1650.