Marriage Index

The Sussex Marriage Index includes 1538 - 1837 and is an index of marriages and marriage licences within this period. All records found for the parishes of Sussex are indexed, with over 300,000 entries on file.

A list of parishes and periods covered, can be found by clicking on the button below.

Although a number of the 310 ancient parishes in Sussex have registers (PRs) that date back to their introduction in 1538, the average starting date is 1592 but there are often later gaps, particularly over the Commonwealth period.

Some of the earlier periods and later intervals are covered by the bishops duplicate transcripts of the registers (BTs), for which the average starting date, where they survive, in West Sussex is 1567 and in the East 1606. Unfortunately the BTs are completely lacking for the period 1642-61, although after this they are usually continuous with perhaps the odd year missing here or there.

Apart from the above PRs (or the BTs where these are lacking) the Sussex Marriage Index also includes Sussex strays from marriage records in London and neighbouring counties and, unusually for a marriage index, all surviving allegations for marriage licences and the Sussex parties in many London and Canterbury allegations. Although most nonconformists had to marry in an Anglican church until 1837, Quakers were an exception and the Index includes their ceremonies from 1659. Catholics frequently repeated their marriages before a priest and, although few records survive, these are included from 1720.

Finally, many secret weddings took place in the precincts of the Fleet Prison, London, from 1667-1754, and over a thousand of these involving Sussex people are included. The only limitation is that the Index does not normally include records after the introduction of General Registration in July 1837.

The Index was originally compiled on slips by a dedicated team, lately from the Sussex Family History Group (SFHG), over a 30-year period from a variety of sources, with modern transcripts used in many cases. These can be of varying reliability, depending on the clarity of the original and the palaeographic skills of the transcriber. Subsequently another team input these slips to word processor (and latter, database) with, of course, further possibilities of error.

As the amount of data provided in the Index also varies (witnesses names are not always given, for instance) recourse should always be made to the original PR and/or BT for confirmation and possible further details. This cannot be emphasized too much.


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