Having trouble locating a marriage certificate? Else Churchill of the Society of Genealogists might have the answer to your problem. With 30 years of family history experience she's developed some strategies that might help you find your ancestor in the records

Can't find you ancestor in the marriage records for the parish you're sure they lived in? Here are the parish registers you should try next:

• The parish where the couple's child was later baptised

• The mother's family parish (often listed on baptism record)

• The father's family parish (often listed on baptism record)

• Immediate neighbouring parishes

You can find details of neighbouring parishes at with the interactive maps on Family Search. Bear in mind the parameters of these will sometimes change over the years.

Still No Luck?

Maybe you've found the marriage licence, but can't find the marriage record. In this case, the licence may have been issued by a foreign marrying parish.

Surrogates issued with blank licences from the Diocesan Registry notoriously abused their position, marrying thousands of couples irregularly. For example, the curate of St Boltolph, Aldgate was empowered to grant licences for the Bishop of London.

Many granted licences to marry in "foreign" (distant) churches –E.G. William Sweetapple Rector of Fledborough in Nottingham:

1712-28 6 marriages in parish

1728-54 488 marriages by licence

Use Finding Aids and Indexes

IGI/FamilySearch and digital indexed registers on major websites

•County Marriage Indexes compiled by local family history societies are often online or at a local record office

Boyd's Marriage Index 1538-1850 is a useful source of millions of marriages

Try London as a Magnet for "Quiet Weddings"

Your ancestor may not have wanted people in their parish to know they had got married. More often than not these 'quiet weddings' took place in London due to the sheer amount of churches to choose from. Remember that Vicar General/Faculty Office Marriage Licences as well as the Bishop of London & Lower Court Marriage Licences and Boyd's has good coverage of London especially before 1754. And, of course, consider the Fleet Registers and other foreign marrying churches and chapels.

See more tips from Else Churchill and other experts

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