Archiver > CHESHIRE > 2001-06 > 0992287916

From: Roy Stockdill <>
Subject: [CHS] Witness on parish records
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2001 15:31:56 -0400

Anne Cole wrote...

>>If Thomas Pollitt appears as a witness at most of the weddings for a
of time then he would be the parish clerk. It is very common to find the
same person being witness to almost every marriage, sometimes for years at

I AGREE. The original enquirer didn't tell us the period under discussion,
but I assume it was pre-civil registration (1837) since he was talking
about parish registers. It is unlikely that "PC" stood for Police
Constable, since the term didn't come into general widespread usage until
probably the 1840s or 1850s. The Metropolitan Police wasn't founded until
1829 by Sir Robert Peel and provincial forces followed quite a few years

Even less likely is Privy Councillor! That position was reserved for a very
tiny number of people at the heart of government and royalty and they are
unlikely to have been appending their names as witnesses to marriages in
Knutsford, Cheshire.

As Anne says, it was very common practice for the parish clerk and/or
churchwarden to act as witnesses at weddings. Indeed, if you look at some
registers the clerk or churchwarden appear so often that they seem to have
been virtually "professional" witnesses. They probably got slipped a couple
of coppers or a free drink! So the odds are 99.9% that PC meant "parish

Incidentally, I couldn't resist looking at the IGI and I see there was a
Thomas Pollitt who married at Knutsford in 1817. Was this the same man?
Wonder who were the witnesses at HIS wedding?

Roy Stockdill, Editor, The Journal of One-Name Studies
Web page of the Guild of One-Name Studies:-
Newbies' Guide to Genealogy & Family History:-
”Never ask a man if he comes from Yorkshire. If he does he will tell you.
If he does not, why humiliate him?" - Canon Sydney Smith (scholar and
humorist 1771-1845)
CHESHIRE interests - PLEVIN and WILLIAMS at Nantwich/Acton-by-Nantwich, pre

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