Genealogy Friday: Vital Records—Marriage Bonds

posted in: Genealogy, Vital Records | 0

Marriage bond


Marriage bonds are different than marriage licenses.

Marriage bonds were used by the states before marriage licenses were issued.

A bond was often {especially in the late 18th and early 19th centuries} an agreement between the bride’s father {or a male ambassador} and the groom.  The groom would pay a fee to the father to marry the bride.  This bond could be anything from $50 to 50 cows.  This all depended on their agreement and I’m sure the financial status of the individuals in question.

The problem with marriage bonds is that not all states or even counties used these.  Also, these bonds were not used consecutively.  I’ve seen some states where for example they may have been used from 1825-1850 and then from 1875-1890.

The best way to discover if the state in question used marriage bonds is to search for that specific state.

One other issue is that many of these bonds may have been destroyed by fire or natural disaster over the years.Marriage bond

Marriage bonds provides the names of the bride and groom and the date of marriage.  Sometimes you may also find the name of witnesses or the officiant, but not always.  Also, you will usually see the signature or mark for the bride and groom.

Marriage bonds also look different depending on the state, county, time period, etc.  I have seen some that were a letter stating the details of the marriage and others that were a standardized form.

Many of the early marriage bonds have been placed on  I know those for the state of North Carolina are on there.  I encourage you to check for your state.

What state{s} have you found marriage bonds in?

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