Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section

St Katharine by the Tower Marriage Licence Records

(1686-9, 1698-1704, 1720-4, 1727-1802):

The St Katharine by the Tower marriage licence records are held by Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section and can be consulted by readers without prior formality.


This index (see below) to the marriage licence records of the Royal Peculiar of St Katharine by the Tower has been compiled from:

·        Ms 9664: marriage allegations entries, 1686-9, given at the back of a register of marriages (1695-1713)

·        Ms 9741: act book which includes entries relating to marriage licences 1698-1704

·        Ms 9772: 94 bundles of marriage allegations, bonds and licences 1720-4, 1727-1802

·        Ms 20954: scrapbook which includes 16 allegations, with some related bonds and licences, 1721-93

·        Ms 9740: 5 bundles of allegations and bonds, 1755-1802 

This index supersedes the index entries for marriage licence records in Ms 9742 and Ms 9742A.

Unfortunately, we do not have a complete series of marriage licence records for St Katharine by the Tower. Many of the records have not survived. There are no licences, allegations or bonds for the years 1690-7, 1705-19 and 1725-6. Although there is a good series of allegations and bonds for 1720-4 and 1727-44, there are no licences for these periods.  

The index is in two parts. The first part is an alphabetical list of bridegrooms; the second part is alphabetical by the name of the bride. Each entry gives the names of the parties, the date of the licence, and abbreviations indicating the type of record(s):

Key to abbreviations:

l – licence

a – allegation

b – bond

lc – licence issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury

ll – licence issued by the Bishop of London

* – information from a crossed out allegation or bond (for a marriage which did not take place)

A marriage licence was issued after a written allegation of intention to marry was made (usually by the prospective bridegroom), stating that there was no legal impediment to the marriage. The applicant for a licence also had to sign a bond, by which he would incur a fine if it was found that there was a legal impediment to the marriage.

The allegations and bonds are more informative than the licences. The licences give the bride and bridegroom’s names, condition (bachelor, spinster, widow or widower) and the date of the licence only. The licence entries in Ms 9741 and the licences issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury also state which parishes the couple belong to.

The bonds give names, condition, parishes to which they belonged, occupation of the bridegroom, the amount of the bond, and the signature or mark of the bridegroom. The allegations give names, condition, parishes to which they belonged, occupation of the bridegroom, their ages (although often the ages are simply given as over 21) and the signature or mark of the bridegroom. If one of the parties was under 21, a signed statement giving consent to the marriage by a parent or guardian may be found on the allegation. Very occasionally a statement attesting to the appointment of a guardian for a minor is included with the allegation.

The signatures of the bridegrooms on the allegations and bonds can be especially interesting as they sometimes vary considerably from the name given by the clerk in the records. The name of the intended bridegroom of Jane Carter in 1721 is given by the clerk as John Johnson, but he signs as Jan Jansen (Ms 9772/1/49). If the signature is significantly different from the “official” name, two separate entries for each form of the name have been given in the index. Where the signature varies only slightly from the clerk’s record (for example, in Ms 9772/44/193, William Alderman signed as William Allderman), the “official” form of the name has been indexed only.

Index to brides

Index to grooms

Although access to these indexes is provided free of charge, the information must not be stored or hosted on other internet sites, reproduced in any form, or otherwise distributed without the permission of the Keeper of Manuscripts, Guildhall Library. Copyright City of London Corporation.

Last updated November 2007

Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section