Did your ancestors marry in Ireland between 1623 and 1866? Did they get married by licence rather than by banns? Marriage licences were granted, on payment of a fee, by the ecclesiastical courts of the Church of Ireland. These Indexes, which survived the Public Record Office explosion of 1922, are a rare source of early records. They record Protestant marriages going as far back as 1623.
Each record contains a transcript and an image of the original register. The amount of information varies but you can find out the following about your ancestor:
Name of spouse
Date of marriage
Occupation, rank or status (image only)
Marriage Licence Bonds were an alternative to marriage banns. Both were designed to prevent clandestine marriages. Banns would be read in both the bride’s and groom’s parish on three consecutive Sundays to allow anyone knowing a reason that the marriage shouldn’t go ahead to come forward. Marriage licence bonds worked slightly differently. They allowed a couple to go to court and pay a sum to sign a witnessed declaration that the marriage was free to go ahead. Before 1858 marriage licence bonds were exclusively handled by the ecclesiastical courts of the establishment Church of Ireland.
These records are the indexes of marriage licence bonds taken through diocesan and prerogative courts across Ireland. Copies were kept by the Public Records Office but many were destroyed in the explosion during the Irish Civil War in 1922. These bonds are a rare opportunity to find your Irish ancestors before the 19th century. Dating back as far as 1623 these are an invaluable resource for genealogists.
Among the records you can find the marriage of Jonathan Swift and Abigail Erick, the parents of satirist Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels. Jonathan Snr had come to Ireland with his brothers after their Royalist family lands in Herefordshire had been brought to ruin during the English Civil War. He met Abigail Erick in Dublin and the pair were married in 1664. The Swift brothers planned to make their fortunes in the law but tragically Jonathan died seven months before his son was born. Abigail went back to England after the baby was born but she left young Jonathan with his uncle Godwin, who can also be found in these records.
Godwin Swift financed young Jonathan’s education. He went to Kilkenny College, then on to Trinity College. He would later become the Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral as well as a famous satirist whose pamphlet “A Modest Proposal” suggested that the poor should sell their children to the rich to eat and is still often referred to today.