Something Old, Something New

Something Old, Something New

The most comprehensive collection of marriage records available online

Nick Thorne, Writer at TheGenealogist

Nick Thorne

Writer at TheGenealogist

Finding marriages can be both tedious and hard work but it doesn’t have to be when you have access to the largest and most diverse collection of marriages online. We look at some unique tools that can directly find marriages without long winded searching.

As our ancestors walked down the aisle or stepped into registry offices to plight their troth, little did they know that the records these events generated would be so essential to their family historian descendants decades later.

Marriage records are a genealogical treasure trove and a vital link in the chain of documentation that allows you to trace your family back through the generations. Those kept from 1837 under civil registration not only tell you the bride and groom’s names, their occupations, their addresses and often their ages, but also the names of their fathers, while relatives and friends often witnessed the event allowing you to glean more about family links. holds a host of marriage records that will help establish your ancestors’ family ties…

Marriage Transcripts

You now no longer have to trawl through the quarterly General Register Office marriage indexes to find the happy couple. The Genealogist has transcribed the complete index from 1837-2005, with a total of over 100 million records now available online. You can use a name to pinpoint an individual marriage, together with the spouse it even generates a virtual certificate for you to print out and add to your records.

The transcripts can be accessed using the new Master Search Tool on The Genealogist. Just enter a person and a year range and instantly find the marriage entry you’re looking for. In the example on the right, we searched for Isabella Mayson, who married publisher Samuel Beeton, and became the iconic ‘Mrs Beeton’,


The BMD SmartSearch technology allows you to find potential children from a marriage and jump from one person’s marriage record to their partner’s record. This is available on Marriage Transcripts from 1837 to 2005, and also for Parish Record Transcripts dating back to the 1500’s. Searchable by name, area and date.

Finding a marriage using TheGenealogist's marriage transcriptsFinding a marriage using TheGenealogist's marriage transcriptsFinding a marriage using TheGenealogist's marriage transcripts
Finding a marriage using TheGenealogist's marriage transcripts

For example, if we search for the marriage of Sir Paul McCartney to Linda Eastman in 1969, selecting the link ‘SmartSearch for potential children’ brings up the three birth entries for their children Mary, Stella and James.

Searching for a marriage and potential children from a marriage
Searching for a marriage and potential children from a marriage

Forename Search

You’ve found the marriage record and now you’re trying to locate a husband and wife in the census…’s forename search tool can help you find married couples using combinations of names (you can include children’s names too) without any need to input the surname. You can refine results by relationship and by birth year or decade. This is particularly useful if you are researching a common name or one with various different spellings. From the Master Search Tool, choose to search for ‘A Family’. Entering Samuel and Isabella into the forename boxes and also adding the surname Beeton, there is one result shown on the 1861 census in Middlesex, and you can immediately see all the people within the household.

Using TheGenealogist's Family Forename search to find the Beeton family
Using TheGenealogist's Family Forename search to find the Beeton family

1911 Marriage Finder Tool

For the first time you can now find marriages from the 1911 census with just one click of the mouse. uses the extra detail given in the 1911 census, as this census gives how many years a couple have been married and this is automatically linked by our system to the relevant marriage transcripts on our site showing the marriage details in the GRO records. The spouse’s name was not recorded on entries prior to 1912, but our SmartSearch technology shows you relevant partners based on a variety of details.

On the Dorset census entry for author Thomas Hardy, using the Marriage Finder link, you can immediately see his marriage entry in 1874 to his first wife Emma Lavinia Gifford.

Using the 1911 Marriage Finder Tool to find Thomas Hardy's marriage
Using the 1911 Marriage Finder Tool to find Thomas Hardy's marriage

Parish Registers’s parish register collection includes both transcripts and e-books, which allow you to track down marriages that took place before civil registration. Content of the entries varies depending on the parish, but the later ones particularly in the 19th century can hold as much detail as the civil registration records. Earlier records may only give you the names of the bride and groom with, in some cases, their parish (if not the one the marriage took place in) and sometimes the groom’s occupation. Nevertheless, they can still provide vital clues.

Access Over a Billion Records

Try a four-month Diamond subscription and we’ll apply a lifetime discount making it just £44.95 (standard price £64.95). You’ll gain access to all of our exclusive record collections and unique search tools (Along with Censuses, BMDs, Wills and more), providing you with the best resources online to discover your family history story.

We’ll also give you a free 12-month subscription to Discover Your Ancestors online magazine (worth £24.99), so you can read more great Family History research articles like this!

View Offer Details

Marriage of Samuel Pepys and Elizabeth Marchant de St Michell - information about Elizabeth's family
		can be seen in the footnotes.
Marriage of Samuel Pepys and Elizabeth Marchant de St Michell - information about Elizabeth's family can be seen in the footnotes.

The marriage shown above from the London Parish Records shows the marriage of Samuel Pepys in 1665 and includes additional information about his bride’s family in the footnotes There are thousands of parishes available on TheGenealogist dating back to 1538, and the Diamond Premium subscription also includes Bishops’ Transcripts, Marriage Banns and Licenses.

Non-Conformist Records

If you can’t find your ancestors’ marriage in the parish registers, you may find them in records of nonconformist marriages i.e, those conducted outside the established church. holds the official database of these records, which you can find under its BMD section in ‘BMD Registers’ or via the Master Search Tool Here you’ll discover over 8 million records for Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists and Quakers, among others. The documents generated by Quaker marriages are very interesting from a family history point of view as they record the names of everyone present at a marriage and so can give a wider picture of the extended family group. To the right is a marriage entry in the Quaker collection from 1832 for the famous Rowntree family.

Overseas & Onboard Ships has an overseas BMD record set from both the GRO and TNA. The GRO Overseas BMD Indexes includes the marriages of British Service Personnel throughout the world. The references provided can be used to order an overseas certificate from the GRO (General Register Office). The Non-Parochial records from the TNA (The National Archives) are part of the BMD Register’s collection and include registers and returns from 1627 to 1960 for British Subjects overseas and onboard ships, as well as marriage returns from 1826 to 1921 which contain marriage certificates issued by foreign registration authorities and churches, copies of entries in the registers kept by British embassies, incumbents of English churches and chaplains, notification of marriages of servicemen during service abroad, and documents deposited for safekeeping.

Marriage entry for Joseph Rowntree in Quaker records
Marriage entry for Joseph Rowntree in Quaker records

Fleet Marriages

Fleet marriages are part of the official Non-Parochial record set available on TheGenealogist, and the term refers to marriages conducted quickly or in secret within the walls of the Fleet Prison in London, which was outside the normal jurisdiction of the Church. At its peak, over half of London marriages were conducted in the Fleet. So if there’s a marriage you can’t locate before 1754 when an Act was brought in to stop the Fleet’s practice, is a good place to look for it.

Additional Sources

There are also other ways to locate when a marriage took place on TheGenealogist, such as the Peerage and Heritage collection which contains details of the marriages of individuals and other family members. Issues of the Illustrated London News, a popular Victorian national paper, contain many announcements of marriages from across the country. TheGenealogist now has over two decades of the paper available to Diamond subscribers from 1842 to 1862, and is adding to this collection all the time.

Birth, Marriage & Death announcements in the Illustrated London News
Birth, Marriage & Death announcements in the Illustrated London News

All articles are Copyright © of the author and TheGenealogist. These may not be reproduced in whole or part without prior permission.