Manuscripts and Special Collections

Marriage Bonds

Example of a marriage bond

Marriage bonds and allegations are, in effect, 'application forms' for persons wishing to be married by licence. Most marriages could only take place if:  

a) banns were 'published' in the parish church on 3 consecutive weeks


b) a couple had a licence granted by the appropriate ecclesiastical authority

Most couples were married after the calling of banns. The Archdeaconry archive therefore does not include records relating to the great majority of Nottinghamshire marriages.

Information about most marriages (especially those taking place after the calling of the banns) is to be found in parish marriage registers, most of which have now been deposited at Nottinghamshire Archives.


Content and format

Sixteenth and early seventeenth century bonds and allegations are written in Latin.

Until 1752, the Julian Calendar operated in England and the year began on 25th March. In 1752 the Gregorian Calendar (used in Europe since 1582) was adopted and the year began on 1st January. The yearly bundles of marriage bonds up to 1752 therefore, begin with 25th March and end with 24th March.

Prior to 1823, the application for a licence was in two parts - the bond and the allegation. After 1823, the bond was no longer required and the application consisted only of the allegation.

Bonds and allegations give details of the names and parishes of the people wishing to get married. They often provide supplementary information to the brief entries in the parish registers; for example age, occupation, parentage of a minor (i.e. under 21).



Manuscripts and Special Collections holds bonds and allegations for licences granted by the Archdeaconry Court of Nottingham from 1594 to 1884 (the year in which the Archdeaconry of Nottingham joined with the county of Derby from the Diocese of Lichfield to form the Diocese of Southwell).

Until 1841, the Archdeaconry of Nottingham had ecclesiastical jurisdiction over most of the county of Nottingham but twenty-eight Nottinghamshire parishes came, instead, under the jurisdiction of the Peculiar Court of Southwell:

Beckingham, Bleasby, Blidworth, Calverton, Carlton-on-Trent, Caunton, Cropwell Bishop, Darlton, Dunham, Eaton, Edingley, Farnsfield, Halam, Halloughton, Holme, Kirklington, Morton, North Leverton, North Muskham, Norwell, Oxton, Ragnall, Rampton, Southwell, South Muskham, South Wheatley, Upton, Woodborough.

For details of marriages taking place in these parishes, application should be made to Nottinghamshire Archives.

Before 1837, the Archdeaconry of Nottingham also included some places in Yorkshire; for example Austerfield (a chapelry of Blyth) and Bawtry (a chapelry of Haworth).


Access and indexes

It should be noted that it is not always possible to provide access to all bonds since some documents, particularly the very early ones, are fragile and therefore unsuitable for production. Furthermore not all bonds have survived.

Published volumes

Most of the early bonds up to 1800 have been abstracted and published:

Blagg, T. M. and Wadsworth, F. A. (eds), Abstracts of Nottinghamshire Marriage Licences, volume I, The British Record Society, 1930.

Blagg, T. M. and Wadsworth, F. A. (eds), Abstracts of Nottinghamshire Marriage Licences, volume. II, The British Record Society, 1935.

n.b. these two volumes also include abstracts and indexes for Peculiar of Southwell bonds, 1588-1853.

Blagg, T. M. (ed.) 'Abstracts of the Bonds and Allegations for Marriage Licences in the Archdeaconry Court of Nottingham.' Thoroton Society Record Series volume X, Parts I and II 1946-1947. Part I contains a summary list covering 1754-1780, then a detailed list for 1754-Aug 1765. Part II covers September 1765-1770.

Nottinghamshire Marriage Bonds 1791-1800, Nottingham University Library Manuscripts Department, 1987.

Online indexes

The names of people mentioned in marriage bonds dated 1771-1790 and 1801-1884 are now indexed and can be accessed through the Advanced and Index Searches - People Search form in the Manuscripts Online Catalogue.


Further reading 

  • Gibson, J. Bishops' Transcripts and Marriage Licences, Bonds and Allegations, Federation of Family History Societies, 1997.
  • Gibson, J. and Hampson, E. Marriage and Census Indexes for Family Historians, Federation of Family History Societies, 2000.
  • Chapman, C. R., Marriage Laws, Rites, Records & Customs, Lochin Publishing, 1996.  


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Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
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Nottingham, NG7 2NR

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