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Ireland Research Guidance: Marriage 1619-1863

For marriages 1864-present, click here.

Ireland | Marriage | 1619-1863

Search Strategy

Search the following records in the order given.

1. Church Records: Church records

Church records are the christenings or baptisms, marriages, and burials recorded in registers by church officials at the time of an event. Marriage records usually give the names of the bride and groom and the date and place of marriage. Sometimes the occupation of the groom, residences, or names of witnesses are included. Before searching church records, it is vital to know the religion of your ancestors.

Read more about Ireland Church Records.

2. Marriage Certificate: Civil registration

Civil registration is the government registration of births, marriages, and deaths. In these records you may find the names of the bride and groom, their ages, marital status, residences, occupations, their fathers' names and occupations, marriage date and place, and names of witnesses. Protestant marriages (Church of Ireland and Presbyterian) were recorded from 1 January 1845. All marriages were recorded from 1 January 1864. Civil registration marriage records cover most of the population and are indexed countrywide. Use Ireland Civil Registration Indexes, 1845-1958 - FamilySearch - How to Use this Collection to identify and obtain a copy of a marriage certificate.

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3. Marriage Bonds and Allegations: Church records

Marriage bonds and allegations were records created for licensed marriages. A license was issued by the Bishop of the Church of Ireland diocese in which a couple lived. In order to be granted a license, a couple was required to make an allegation of intent to be married and post a bond insuring that all information given was valid. In these records you may find the names of the bride and groom, date of allegation or bond, residences, intended place of marriage, and names of bondsmen. A father may be named if the bride or groom was a minor. The existence of a marriage bond or allegation is no guarantee that a marriage took place. Most allegations, bonds, and licenses have been destroyed although the indexes to them survived. However, some abstracts and indexes for various dioceses exist.

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4. Couple-beggar Marriages

Small dues were required by the Church of Ireland as the State Church for all christenings, churchings, marriages and funerals. These fees were to be paid to Anglican ministers regardless of religion, so fees were paid by Catholics, Presbyterians, and other non-conformists even though no ceremony was performed. This practice led to cut-rate marriages performed by defrocked, unemployed or suspended clergyman known as "couple-beggars." The most famous of these in Ireland was the Reverend J. G. F. Schultz, a former German minister practicing in the City of Dublin. He performed nearly 3,000 marriages for the years 1806-1837. Records of these marriages are found in the Family History Library Catalog

5. Census: Census

A census is a count and description of the population. Government census records are especially valuable because they list the majority of the population and are available at many repositories. In these records you may find names of the members of a household, gender, and each person's religion, marital status, relationship to the head of the household, age, address, occupation, and county of birth. Though many Irish census records have been destroyed, those that survive can provide clues that may lead you to other records.

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6. Census Substitutes: Census

Census substitutes are lists of individuals in a specific place at a given time. Various lists have been compiled by church and civil authorities to determine such things as the religious makeup of the population, an assessment of military readiness, the number and identity of eligible voters, or those persons receiving charity from the church or government. Due to the loss of many government census records, census substitutes are especially valuable.

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7. Monumental Inscriptions: Cemeteries

Gravestone or monumental inscriptions can be a useful source of family history information. Sometimes, multiple family members are buried in the same vault or burial plot and the inscription will give information on all that are buried there. Inscriptions may give birth, marriage, and death information. They may also give clues about military service and occupation, or family members buried in the same area. Sometimes they give more information than the parish burial register or civil certificate of death. Monumental inscriptions are especially helpful for identifying ancestors who are not recorded in other existing records, and may give a birth date that cannot be found elsewhere.

Read more about Ireland Cemeteries.