Archiver > TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM > 2010-12 > 1291817729

Subject: Re: [TGF] Marriage License as a Source
Date: Wed, 8 Dec 2010 09:15:29 -0500 (EST)

In my experience the Certificate of Marriage is usually what was given to
the married couple by the officiator.

While the License given this couple by the Clerk of Court would have been
presented to the officiator, do you have other evidence that there was an
attached form for the officiator to fill in the names of parties and marriage
date/place together with the identity of the officiator? If you do not have
evidence that this was the procedure in effect at the time and place, I
think it is unwise to assume that what the couple had and presented to the
officiator was a form in the same format as what was recorded.

While the data filled in for parties and date/place of marriage was
'certified' by the officiator, this information submitted to the Clerk of Court for
recording may have been in the form of a list of marriages performed over a
certain period of time. Such a list is often called a "Return of
marriage(s)" by the officiator, the word "return" meaning list or summary, as in
election returns. The officiator, rather than the married couple, gave this
information to the Clerk of Court. Sometimes there was a signature of the
Clerk of Court attesting to the recording date of the information submitted by
the officiator.

On the point of authorship, I have seen many records where it was plainly
various ministers and JPs who themselves wrote in the marriage information,
sometimes almost illegibly squeezed into the bottom of a page. Often
Marriage Bonds or Marriage Licenses were entered in a separate series of records,
and not all marriage records were accompanied by Bonds or Licenses -- just as
not all Licenses were followed by an actual marriage.

Your marriage license and return-of-marriage as recorded in Marriage Book G
may have been written entirely by the Clerk of Court (or employee). You
would need a copy of the original record to determine whether the officiator
actually himself wrote in the information in the book. Again, the actual
record may have a Clerk's signature and date of recording the return of

You appear to have a good example of the limitation of what can be
determined from an extract or purported transcript (you say the source of this is
unknown). One cannot adjudge authorship through handwriting analysis of a
typescript or typeset version from a book :D

Good hunting,

Dave Sloan wrote:
> The sequence that the document must have taken would be: license
> by Clerk of Court on 18 May 1895, copy provided the groom and bride, on
> May 1895 the bride and groom presented the license to the Mayor and JP
> 19 May 1895 who then gave the completed form to the Clerk of Court who
> would have entered the marriage into the Marriage Book G.
> The footnote that I have created for the above copy of the document is:
> Andrew J. Scott, Clerk Circuit Court of Wayne County Indiana: John
> Mayor and JP Richmond Wayne County Indiana, [Marriage License/
> Certificate]

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