Information for researchers - marriages

Entries are arranged in four sheets, one each for the 17th-18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

This aide is has been produced to assist those who will view or use the data in future.

All data has been derived from official paper-based Baptism, Marriage, Death, Dissenter and Stranger records held at the Northumberland Archives, Walkergate Building, Walkergate, Berwick, unless otherwise stated. In the main, the official records used were not actual copies of the original document (unless stated) and therefore did not include all of the information that would have been present on the original official document.

From 1839, recording of marriage details altered somewhat to include details of the age and profession of those being married and the names and professions of their respective Fathers. Unfortunately, it became less clear as to whether the marriage was performed under Banns of Marriage or by Licence or who performed the actual marriage.

Data relating to marriages from the years 2001 to 2016 has been taken directly from the current official Marriage Register of St Helen's Church, Cornhill. This register began in 2001.

The previous official Marriage register ended in 1993. The current vicar of St Helens Church, Cornhill (Rev. John Carr) has confirmed that there is no evidence to support any marriage taking place between 1993 to 2001.

All data has been replicated as stated within the aforementioned records including terminology and spelling (even where common sense would indictate that it is incorrect).

All spelling within the official records is phonetic; therefore it is important to bear in mind that data such as 'Surnames' could have altered over the generations.E.g. Willson to Wilson, Wedderburn to Wetherburn, Broun to Brown.

Further examples of Surname variations include: Nuton (Newton), Havery (Harvey), Archbold (Archbald), Dunkan (Duncan), Hogard (Hogarth), Grive (Grieve) however there may be more, therefore it is suggested to try alternatives.

Variations in the spelling of village names is common in the official record. E.g. Ital (Etal), Ffloden (Flodden), Mindrom (Mindrum), Balmbrough (Bamburgh), Dodington (Doddington).

When using this database, you may need to alter your search parameters to take into account spelling anomalies/differences/variations across all data fields.

Where any of the fields has a value of 'not recorded' this means that that the official records did not detail this type of information.

In the official records, marriage dates were not always recorded in exact chronological order within a year. Marriage dates have therefore been entered onto this database in the order in which it appeared in the official record.

Where the profession is stated in official records, we have assumed this to be the husband’s profession unless clarified otherwise. Where the address within the official record is unclear, the annotation against this entry will read ‘not included’.

Within the official records there are variations as to how the person who performed the marriage is recorded. Some records just note the name and others note the name and the title such as officiating minister, curate, sub-curate etc. We have added the title where present in the official record.


The term spinster means strictly any woman of legally marriageable age but who has never been married. However, in common parlance, from the 17th century the term refers more to an unmarried woman who is older than what is perceived as the prime age range during which women should marry, while in modern speech it is somewhat disparaging.

The equivalent term for a man is bachelor.

Of full age is a term to describe that those entering into marriage were of a legal age to marry.

Banns of Marriage

The formal Publication of Banns of Marriage is the public announcement of an impending marriage between two specified persons. In the Church of England this is part of canon law. Banns are customarily read in the home church(es) of both parties, at the principal Sunday service, on three consecutive Sundays.

The Church of Scotland abolished the ‘Calling’ of Banns in 1977 and in the Roman Catholic Church banns have been optional (though still customary) since 1983. Where banns are not published as above, in non-conformist churches and the case of a civil marriage, a certificate must be obtained from the local Registrar after giving twenty-eight days notice.

The purpose of publication of the Banns is to enable anyone to raise any impediment to the marriage in civil or canon law. The requirement to publish derives from the Hardwicke Marriage Act of 1753, a major purpose of which was to prevent so-called ‘clandestine’ marriages.

Clandestine marriages persisted in Scotland for a century. From 1754 marriages took place chiefly at the Marriage House on the Scottish side of Coldstream Bridge, but this location was largely superseded by Gretna Green after 1770, where they continued until Scottish law was changed in 1856.

Official recording of Banns of Marriage publication dates began from 1754. However there are variations within the records as to whether the Banns publication dates are noted.


‘In the presence of’ refers to a person (or persons) who are witnesses to the marriage. Two witnesses are required since the 1753 Act to sign the marriage certificate since this is a legal document.

Marriage by Licence

In the Church of England marriage may be either by Banns or by Licence. Most couples are married by Banns. In certain cases however, couples did not qualify to be married by Banns and had to apply for a marriage licence instead. In the 18th and 19th century licences were issued by the local archdeacon in the name of the diocesan bishop. A bishop's or common licence is required if either party was under 21 years of age (18 years after 1969), if the marriage needed to be formalised quickly or one party lives outside England and Wales. If both parties are marrying in a church other than the home parish church of one or both parties, a special licence is required, issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury.