Saturday, 4 September 2010

Married in Haste?

Researchers who have traced their Scottish ancestors back to the pre-1855 Old Parish Registers will know that many so-called ‘marriage registers’ are in fact records of the proclamation of banns and do not necessarily include the date the marriage took place (or indeed if the couple ever actually got married).

You may find, however, that the register includes details of the fee paid for proclamation or records the numbers of days on which banns were proclaimed (sometimes abbreviated to ‘3 Sab’ for three Sabbaths, for example).

In theory, banns of marriage should have been proclaimed on three successive Sundays, but it is clear that this did not always happen. So I was interested to come across this explanation in the Kirk Session Minutes for the Parish of Ceres in Fife of exactly how a couple could have their banns proclaimed more quickly (providing they were prepared to pay the additional fees of course!).

National Archives of Scotland Reference: CH2/65/5 Pages 186-187:

Ceres 6th Octr 1794

The Session taking into consideration
that there has crept into this parish several irregularitys
with Respect to the proclamation of Bands_
The Session unanimously agreed and resolved for the
future, That each couple of folks that is to be pro=
claimed three different Sabbaths in the ordinary
way shall pay the Ordinary to the poor which is
Fourteen pence Stirling and if they choose to be
proclaimed three times in two Sabbaths, they shall
pay Two Shillings and sixpence Stirling to the poor
and if they choose to be proclaimed three times in
one Sabbath they shall pay six shillings Stir:
to the poor_ and if they are
proclaimed three times in two different Sabbaths
they shall be proclaimed in the morning of the
first Sabbath, and on the Second Sabbath in the
morning befor divine worship and at noon that
day before divine service, for the last time_
And if they are to be proclaimed three times in
one day they shall be proclaimed at the ringing
of the second Bell by the Precenter befor two or
more witnesiss; and for the second time at the convun=
ing of the forenoons service, and for the third and
last time at the convuning of the Congregation
in the
afternoon_ The Session further ordains
that when partys are to be proclaimed three times
in one day they shall pay to the Precenter one shilling
Stirling for his additional trouble_

Presumably, similar arrangements were in place in other parishes, so by noting the fees your ancestors paid for their proclamation you may be able to determine how much of a hurry they were in to get married!

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