Description of Marriage Records

Home ] Up ] [ Description of Marriage Records ] Marriage Records 1853-1895 ] Marriage Photographs ] Freemens Records ] Freedmen Record Description ]

Marriages of Gloucester County
Book 1:  1853-1895

Edited by L. Roane Hunt

Description of Records

The marriage records are handwritten in a large book and extend across a double page width, generally, in chronological order.  Each marriage entry appears to have been made from information supplied by the officiating ministers.  Therefore, multiple entries of the same minister often appear in consecutive order because he would accumulate his most recent marriage records before submitting them at his convenience during a visit to the courthouse.  This would explain occasional errors that could occur in the original records.  Corrections are often made in the book either when originally submitted or any time by anyone reading the records.  Sometimes, these corrections hid the original script. 

The entries begin with the date and place of the marriage ceremony.  Then, the names of the husband and wife are given along with their ages, marital condition (single or widowed), place of birth, residence, and the names of their parents.  Sometimes the mother’s maiden name is indicated, however, this is a matter of interpretation.  Generally, it is recommended that the researcher personally inspect the record to determine the correct interpretation of the script.  Finally, the husband’s occupation and the name of the minister performing the ceremony are given.  The format of the records presented in this book is basically the same as presented in the earlier book of these records by Mrs. Frances Haywood. 

The present records are listed in paragraph form with the page and line number indicated first, for example: “Pg.1/Ln.1/ George W. Jenkins…”  The forward slash follows the page and line numbers.  The husband’s name, age, occupation, birthplace and residence follow.  If no birthplace or residence is given, the place is understood to be Gloucester County.  The parents’ names are given after the symbol, s/o, meaning “son of” and d/o, meaning “daughter of.”  Generally, the father’s given name is typed first followed by the mother’s given name, then her maiden name and the father’s surname.  In the cases where the child’s surname did not match the father’s surname, the father’s given name and surname are given first, followed by the mother’s name.  Corresponding information is then given for the wife except no occupation is given for the wife.  Finally, the marriage date and minister’s name were given.  (Dates are represented with no comma between day and year.)  Effort was made to properly interpret the record, but it is recommended that if there is any confusion, the user should personally examine the official book. 

In the marriage records, there was no column for race designation, however, many of the lines included such notation.  At the beginning of the record including the period of the Civil War, the favored notation was “free persons of color,“ in the latter portion, “colored” was used extensively.  It is of some significance that other terms were not used such as, “white” or “mulatto,” although they were included in the federal census during this period.  Generally, the race notation was not done consistently throughout the records.  Actually, it appears that most of this notation was done in retrospect to sort the information by race.  For some periods in the records, no attempt was made to distinguish between races. 

For the present book, the notations of race information are included because of its historical value, however, there were many colored couples not labeled and some white couples mislabeled as colored.  It seems that it would have been proper to correct the record in this respect, however, such a task was too great for the present book project.  The reader should realize that white ministers continued to perform the ceremonies for the colored couples long after the colored ministers were well established.  During this period, it appears that white couples were always married by white ministers.  These guidelines should help in sorting these marriages by racial distinction.

Considering the three vital records kept in the Clerk’s Office: births, deaths, and marriages; the marriage records are obviously the most reliable and useful.  The practice of recording births and deaths seemed almost arbitrary.  However, the recording of correct and proper marriage information was a matter of obedience to the official and unofficial laws of the county.  During these years, society was seldom tolerant of the cohabitation of unmarried couples and illegitimate children.  Therefore, most citizens were careful to have their marriages recorded properly.

The present records provide some occasional extra or extraneous information in connection to the marriages.  Generally, it appears that the marriages were conducted in the homes of the husband or wife or the homes of a relative or neighbor, rather than in churches.  Sometimes extra details about the minister were given in terms of his title and church. 

Ministers That Preformed the Greatest Number
of Marriages Recorded in Book 1


Elder William S. Hawkins
Baptist Pastor
463 Marriages (1853-1883




Rev. John W. Booth
Baptist Pastor
364 Marriages (1874-1895)
Ministered until his death in 1923

His marriage is recorded
on page 69, line 658.
His parents, Jack and Betsy Booth,
are included in the list of Marriage Certificates for Freedmen.



Elder William E. Wiatt
Baptist Pastor
463 Marriages (1856-1895)
Ministered until his death in 1918

His third marriage is recorded
on page 93, line 970.



You are number to visit our site

ink.gif - 1.5 K President, Roger C. Davis                        ink.gif - 1.5 K Webmaster, L. Roane Hunt

Last Updated  Friday, 30 January 2004 06:20 PM