Source Information

Ancestry.com. Dorset, England, Marriages and Banns, 1813-1921 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Dorset Parish Registers. Dorchester, England: Dorset History Centre.

About Dorset, England, Marriages and Banns, 1813-1921

This database contains images of Church of England marriage records and banns in registers from parishes in Dorset County.

Parish Records

Before civil registration in England began in 1837, key events in a person’s life were typically recorded by the church rather than the state. Parish records are the best source of vital record information in England before the nineteenth century and remain an important source thereafter.

Marriage Records

The 1753 Marriage Act required that marriages in England and Wales be performed in a church, by bann or license, and recorded in a separate register on printed forms. Thus, after the act took effect in 1754, marriage banns typically list

  • bride
  • groom
  • parish
  • dates
  • marital status (bachelor, widow, spinsters, etc.)
  • occupation

Early records of marriage are similar and include

  • bride
  • groom
  • marriage date
  • parish
  • witnesses
  • who performed marriage
  • marital status (possibly)

Later records included age, marital status, occupation, residence, and fathers’ names and professions.

Historically, couples were usually married in the bride’s parish. Remember, too, that a marriage bann does not mean that the marriage necessarily took place.