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  1. #1
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    Default Cost of a Marriage Licence

    Anyone know, off hand, how much it cost to get married - cost of the actual licence/formality - in the late 1860's/early 1870's or where I might get this information?

    I know the poorer classes often did not marry because of the expense but I'd like to know just how pricey it might have been - in modern terms.

    Audrey

  2. #2
    Jan1954
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    According to Family Search, a marriage licence "At the end of the 19th century the fees, including ten shillings' tax, varied from about 2 to 3."

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    Most couples of course didn't marry by licence, if only because it was an expensive way to do it. Most married by banns. I've seen reference to a fee of 3s 6d for marriage by banns in the 19th century but I don't how reliable that information is.

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    That was very expensive then. My grandfather started working for the Co-op as a baker in 1930 and his weekly wage was 3 - I know this as I have the letter offering him the job.

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    Fees for baptisms, funerals and marriages were called “surplice fees”. It doesn’t answer your question but it appears from this piece on free marriages at St. James the Great, Bethnal Green, London that there was no fixed rate of fees but that they did become more regulated as the 19th century progressed.

    The piece is well worth reading anyway.
    http://www.
    royall.co.uk/royall/marriages-for-free.php

    There’s also this piece from the Lost Cousins website:

    “Penny Weddings. In C19 and early C20 many workers only had Christmas and Easter
    Day holidays, and had little money to pay church fees, so multiple weddings were not
    uncommon. A batch of couples would have a joint wedding ceremony, saying everything
    together except the actual vows “I John take you Mary...” etc. Each couple contributed
    one penny to make up the fee. The record is said to be that of a curate of a church in
    Worcester who married 26 couples on Christmas Day one year.”

    http://www.
    lostcousins.com/pdf/MARRIAGE_REGULATIONS.pdf
    malcolm99

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    Dear All,

    Very helpful, very interesting. Paying more than a pound (at the time) seems too steep for most people so I imagine most went for the few shillings the Banns cost. I think that would have been all that my great grandmother could have considered and even that, it would seem, was beyond her means.

    Audrey

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    I've found the reference to 3s 6d. It was in the context of an article about marriages in Manchester

    http://www.mlfhs.org.uk/articles/34-...oll_church.pdf

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    This isn't quite 'proper' to the topic but when my wife and I married in Toronto, Canada, the licence fee was $10.00. Our 1st and 2nd wedding anniversary was 'celebrated' with me in hospital due to spinal surgey. Each time, the nursing staff cooperated by buying us a small - very small - bottle of bubbly.

    Just recently we celebrated our 40th. Jokingly, I asked her if it was money well spent - her comment - "In your case YES." Didn't have the nerve to ask for an explanation.

    Colin

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    There are people, apparently, who re-pop the question on anniversaries - just to see if the answer is the same!

    Audrey

  12. #10
    MarkJ
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    Digging up this thread to ask a question which is sort of related

    I have been transcribing marriage records from the 1750s through to around 1812 during the last few days.

    In almost every case where both the groom and bride were able to sign their own names, they married by Licence. If one or both were unable to sign, then it was almost certain they would marry by Banns. The only exceptions seem to be the occasional unusual marriage- where perhaps the groom was a soldier or similar and a Licence is sometimes the method.

    So, is it that the better educated went for Licences because they perhaps could afford it? What did Licence offer that Banns didn't? Status?

    Mark

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