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These records cover marriage banns for most of the Anglican parishes in Devon.
Devon is a maritime county in the south west of England. It is bordered on the west by Cornwall, with Dorset and Somerset to the east. There is evidence that the county has been inhabited since Stone Age times.
Banns of marriage, more commonly known simply as the 'banns' or 'bans' (from a Middle English word meaning 'proclamation', rooted in the Old French) are the public announcement in a Christian parish church of an impending marriage. Their purpose is to prevent invalid marriages by allowing anyone to raise any canonical or civil legal impediment to the marriage. These impediments might include a pre-existing marriage that has neither been dissolved or annulled, a vow of celibacy, lack of consent or the couple being related within the prohibited degrees of kinship.
Banns were announced in the home parishes of the parties involved for three Sundays in a row. Marriage licences were introduced in the 14th century to allow the usual banns to be waived on payment of a fee accompanied by a sworn declaration that there was no canonical impediment to the marriage.
The original registers are housed in the record offices of Barnstaple and Exeter. Further records are available in Plymouth and West Devon Record Office.
Images courtesy of South West Heritage Trust and Parochial Church Council.