Find your ancestors in Betham Prerogative Marriage Licences Abstracts, 1629-1810

Search for your Irish ancestor’s marriage licence. These valuable records date back to the 17th century. Findmypast’s transcriptions allow you to search Sir William Betham’s abstracts by name and by spouse’s name.

Every record will provide you with an image of the original record and a transcript of the following details:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Event year
  • Event date
  • Residence
  • Spouse’s name
  • Relationship – to the primary person in the record. This field is usually present in the cases of children’s names listed in the records.
  • County
  • Country
  • Whether married
  • Whether dead
  • Collection
  • Series description
  • File
  • Source
  • Archive


The image of the original document will often reveal additional facts about your ancestor such as marital status and names of children.

Discover more about these records

Prerogative marriage licences would have been granted exclusively by the Church of Ireland ecclesiastical courts until 1857. Licences were an alternative to marriage banns but still a method to try to prevent clandestine marriages. The couple would pay a fee to the court and sign a declaration with witnesses explaining that there were no lawful impediments to the marriage.

Betham Prerogative marriage licences abstracts were created by Sir William Betham, the Ulster King of Arms from 1820 to 1853. These copies are a vital source for Irish genealogists. Copies of the marriage licenses were kept by the Public Records Office but many were destroyed in the explosion during the Irish Civil War in 1922. These abstracts are a rare opportunity to find your Irish ancestors before the 19th century. Betham also created abstracts of wills and other genealogical sources that you can search in Betham genealogical abstracts.