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Marriages

Marriage registrations are open to the public after 50 years.

Commencing in the late 1700's in some counties and in the early 1800's in others, county governments recorded marriages.  Thus, the subdivision of older counties and the creation of new counties influence the location of marriage data.  Initially only marriages celebrated after the issuance of licences were recorded and did not include registering marriages celebrated after the pronouncement of the banns that were required in the Catholic Church.  Over time, however, all marriages in the province came to be recorded by the civil authorities on a county-by-county basis. 

In 1791 the first New Brunswick act to regulate marriage and divorce was passed.  An Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian or Quaker clergyman could marry a man and woman over the age of 21, or with parental consent if younger, after banns were published in the parish for three consecutive weeks.  In cases where the banns were not published or if the clergyman did not know both parties involved, a marriage license and bond was required. 

County registers never give the names of parents or the places of birth of those being married.  Microfilmed copies of county marriage registers are located at the PANB  and the Centre d'Études acadiennes Anselme-Chiasson.  In 1888, the recording of marriages at the county level stopped when the Vital Statistics Branch of the New Brunswick government took over this task. 

The reel numbers and the dates covered by these records at the PANB are listed in the County genealogical guides.  These microfilms can be borrowed on interlibrary loan.

The indexes to a number of old county marriage registers have been lost and those surviving are often only indexed by male names.  If the genealogist only knows the female name it is necessary to search each index column opposite the male names until the female name is located.  The names of couples being married are recorded in the index under the main letter in chronological order, as they appear in the register not in an alphabetical order.  One page is assigned to each letter in the index and when that page is filled, additional names for that particular letter are usually written after the letters "I", "J", "K" or "Z". 

To assist the family historian a number of marriage registers for several counties have been transcribed and placed in the Search Room of the PANB: 

  •  Albert County 1846-1887
  •  Carleton County 1832-1887
  •  Kent County 1845-1887
  •  Kings County 1812-1888
  •  Queens County 1812-1861
  •  Restigouche County 1888-1919
  •  Saint John County 1800-1875
  •  Sunbury County 1766-1888
  •  Westmorland County 1790-1888
  •  York County 1812-1888

The County genealogical guides remind family historians that the older counties were often subdivided and new counties created and that this will influence the location of marriage data.  

  • Pre-1846 marriages for Albert County are found in the Westmorland County register; 
  • pre-1832 Carleton County marriage material is within the York County register; 
  • pre-1826 Gloucester County and Kent Countymarriages are in the Northumberland County register; 
  • pre-1873 Madawaska County marriages are listed in the Victoria County, Carleton County and York County registers; 
  • pre-1837 Restigouche County marriage data is located in the Northumberland County register to 1826 and in the Gloucester register from 1826 to 1837; 
  • pre-1844 Victoria County marriage records are found in Carleton County and York County.

RS551  Administration of Performance Bonds Records. 

Licenses were required when banns were not published, or when the clergyman did not know the parties being married.  The marriage license was a declaration by the groom and bride of their freedom to marry and a bond or security was a legal assurance that the parties would not suffer financial loss should the marriage not take place.  A close friend or relative would attest to this truth by taking out a bond.  Marriage bonds rarely mention property settlements or provisions for dowries, or other related obligations.  The names of parents were almost never given.  The marriage usually took place a short time after a license was issued.  Marriage licenses and bonds can be useful because they indicate the approximate date and place of a marriage, give the name and place of residence of the groom, his occupation, and provide the maiden name of the bride and her place of residence.

RS141 New Brunswick Vital Statistics

Contains county and provincial marriage returns, registers and indices.  These records provide the name, age, birthplace, residence, religious denomination, marital status and occupation, names of parents of bride and groom, names and residences of witnesses, the date and the officiator at the marriage.  These microfilmed and indexed records cover the years from 1888 to 1950 and can be used at the PANB or borrowed on interlibrary loan or used on the Internet.  The genealogist should remember that between 1888 and 1920 there are gaps in the records because not every marriage that took place was reported to government.  The family historian will have to consult parish records and other documents to fill in these gaps.

RS58 Records of the Court of Divorce and Matrimonial Causes. 

Divorce records are available for 1847 to 1979.  Most of these cases deal with divorces that occurred since the year 1945. 

RS14 Provincial Secretary: Licensing Administration Records

Documents dealing with the granting of licenses authorizing people to perform marriage ceremonies.  These records cover the years from 1821 to 1943 and contain correspondence, petitions, certificates, and lists of those licensed.  If an ancestor was a member of the clergy or a justice of the peace these documents may hold useful information.

Vital Statistics from New Brunswick Newspapers covering the years from 1785 to the 1890's.

Family historians should also check marriages listed here.

 

If you want access to recent marriage certificates contact:  

Department of Health and Community Services
Vital Statistics Branch
PO Box 6000, Fredericton, NB, E3B 5H1

New Brunswick Government Issued Birth, Marriage & Death Certificates