North Carolina, Civil Marriages - FamilySearch Historical Records

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Information icon.png This is a Legacy Collection
This collection is a partial index of records for this locality. The collection was originally assembled for publication in April 2010. Since that time only a few records may have been added. As no additional records will be added, or any corrections made to the data, this is considered to be a "Legacy" collection.
Where significant issues with the data have been identified, a Known Issues Wiki article has been created. See the table of contents of this article to see if one is available.
As this is an index of records compiled from various sources, it is strongly recommended that you verify any information you find with original records.
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North Carolina, Civil Marriages, 1763-1868
CID2524877
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
North Carolina, 
United States
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Flag of North Carolina
US Locator North Carolina.png
Location of North Carolina
Record Description
Record Type Marriage Index
Collection years 1763-1868
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites


What is in This Collection?[edit | edit source]

This collection consists of an index to selected county marriage bonds and certificates records for the years 1763 to 1868. Due to privacy restrictions we are not able to publish the images associated with these indexes at this time.

Image Visibility[edit | edit source]

Whenever possible FamilySearch makes images and indexes available for all users. However, rights to view these data are limited by contract and subject to change. Because of this there may be limitations on where and how images and indexes are available or who can see them. Please be aware some collections consist only of partial information indexed from the records and do not contain any images.

For additional information about image restrictions see Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections.

What Can These Records Tell Me?[edit | edit source]

The following information may be found in these records:

Bonds

  • Names of bondsmen (one is usually groom)
  • Name of bride
  • Date of bond
  • Place of residence of bride and groom
  • Normally the bond was supposed to be filed in the county where the bride resided
  • Parent’s names were occasionally given on bonds from the 1850’s and 1860’s

Marriage

  • Name of groom
  • Name of bride
  • County of residence
  • Ages of bride and groom
  • Date of license
  • Date of marriage
  • By whom married
  • Place of marriage
  • Witnesses

Licenses

  • Name of groom
  • Name of bride
  • Names of parents of bride and groom
  • Places of residence of bride and groom
  • Date of license
  • Place where license was issued
  • Date married (if a marriage then took place)
  • Person performing marriage
  • Age of bride and groom (on later licenses after about 1872)
  • Race of bride and groom (on later licenses after about 1872)
  • Date of birth (on later certificates)
  • Whether parents were living (on later certificates)

Information on marriages is generally handwritten on pre-printed forms. Some eighteenth century bonds were written out by hand. During later years the information was typed. Licenses and registers may be arranged alphabetically by the grooms’ names or chronologically within a year. Sometimes records are separated by race.

For the period 1741-1868, marriages were performed after the posting of bonds or banns. Banns were the public announcement of an intended marriage made a few weeks before the actual marriage. They could be posted at the church or another public place for a given period of time. This would allow community members to express any objections to the marriage.

Bonds are promises of payment made by the groom and another person, many times a relative of the bride, if the groom contracted an illegal marriage. The bond was given to the minister or county official usually in the county where the bride resided at the time of the marriage and later returned to the county clerk.

Marriage licenses were rarely preserved before 1851. At that time a law required that all justices and ministers who performed marriages had to return the licenses to the county clerk who had issued them along with a marriage certificate. In 1868 the power to issue marriage license was given to the registers of deeds.

Cohabitation records were created in 1866 after the General Assembly passed an act allowing former slaves to register their pre-emancipation marriages before the county clerk or justice of the peace. Most registered before September 1, 1866.

Early marriage records such as bonds and banns were to ensure that no impediment to the marriage existed (such as another spouse). Licenses empowered the minister or justice of the peace to perform the marriage. Marriage certificates proved that the rite of matrimony had been legally performed. Registers were created as indexes to the original licenses and certificates.

Information included on marriage records is usually considered fairly reliable. Sometimes the bride or groom would lie about their age. If someone other than the groom, a relative or friend applied for the license, he may not have known all the information called for on the license.

Please be aware that owing to the absence of actual marriage record books in some localities the bond date may be given as the marriage date in some index publications. As with all secondary sources, the original should be always be consulted to verify the index data.

Collection Content[edit | edit source]

How Do I Search This Collection?[edit | edit source]

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • The approximate date of marriage
  • The place where the marriage occurred
  • The name of the intended spouse

Search the Index[edit | edit source]

Search by name by visiting the Collection Details Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes in the Search Collection section with the information you know
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

How Do I Analyze the Results?[edit | edit source]

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?[edit | edit source]

When you have located your ancestor’s marriage record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors.

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Add any new information to your records
  • Use the locator information found in the index (such as page, entry, or certificate number) to locate your ancestors in the marriage records.
  • Use the marriage date and place as the basis for compiling a new family group or for verifying existing information
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth of each partner to find a couple's birth records and parents' names
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find the family in census records
  • Use the residence and names of the parents to locate church and land records
  • Use the parent’s birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family
  • The name of the officiator is a clue to their religion or area of residence in the county. However, ministers may have reported marriages performed in other counties
  • Compile the marriage entries for every person who has the same surname as the bride or groom, this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby localities
  • Consult the North Carolina Record Finder to find other records

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the state of North Carolina.

Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation:
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation can be viewed by clicking the drop-down arrow next to Document Information.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?[edit | edit source]

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Historical Records/Guidelines for Articles.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.