Discover your English ancestry in more than a million marriage records from Somerset. A marriage record will provide you with a marriage place and date, as well as the names of the couples’ fathers. Later records even supply the names of the witnesses present at your ancestor’s wedding.
The amount of detail found in each transcript will depend on the age of the record and its condition. Earlier marriage records did not include as much detail as records in the late 19th century and early 20th century. In each record, you find some of the following facts:
Spouse’s birth year
Spouse’s marital status
By license or banns
The records found in this collection are a combination of transcripts created by Findmypast from original registers held by the Somerset Archives and transcriptions gathered and created from original records by the Somerset & Dorset Family History Society. Abbreviations are found on the family history society transcripts such as
Bach - Bachelor
Lic - Licence
Otp – Of this parish
Spins – Spinster
Wid - Widow
Widr – Widower
Somerset is a county found in South West England. Its county town is Taunton. Somerset celebrates a long and full history with more than 11,000 listed buildings, 19 National Trust sites, and 36 English Heritage sites. 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.
In 1538, after the establishment of the Anglican Church of England, Thomas Cromwell, the Vicar General, 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 maintained, 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’s transcripts. This new practice is significant for genealogists because it meant that two records were created for baptisms, marriages and burials, making it 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 statuses, 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.
Gaps may appear in some parish records, this can be due to a couple of reasons. First, the condition of the paper on which the records were written and where they were stored: older records may have been ruined by disintegration or water damage. Second, during the Commonwealth years, from 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 clerks. Records were given back to the church wardens and ministers after the restoration of Charles in 1650.