Most marriage bonds follow the same set format. However, later records, after the 19th century, tended to add more detail such as age and marital status. The details found in each record can vary depending on the court, the age of the record, and the physical condition of the register. You may find the following facts:
Names of couple
Date of bond
Signature of the groom
The original records are held at the Norfolk Record Office.
There are four Church of England courts represented in this collection:
Archdeaconry of Norfolk Court
Archdeaconry of Norwich Court
Dean & Chapter of Norwich
Diocese of Norwich Consistory Court
It is important to note, that the jurisdiction of the Church of England courts was not limited by county borders. Therefore, the jurisdiction of the Norfolk courts stretches into the surrounding counties of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. For an introduction into the ecclesiastical court system, consult The Church of England courts available in the Useful links and resources section.
A marriage bond demonstrates an intention to be married by license. To obtain a licence, a couple was required to sign an allegation statement to determine their ages, marital statuses, and places of residence and included an oath that there were no impediments to the marriage. A bond was also sworn, often by the groom’s and bride’s fathers, to pledge a large sum of money if any impediments were found. Impediments could include a previous marriage or consanguinity (the couple were closely related). The sum was normally an amount beyond the means of the couple.
There are different reasons why couples married by licence instead of by banns such as wanting to get married quickly, wanting to show that they could pay for a licence, or intending to be married away from home. If a marriage licence was issued it did not guarantee that the marriage took place.