Find your ancestors in Hertfordshire banns

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Transcripts will include the following details:

  • Intended bride’s and groom’s names
  • Banns date (the first of three)
  • Marriage year
  • Parish

    Images can provide additional details such as the other banns dates and the marital statuses of the couple.
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    The county of Hertfordshire lies in southern England and includes much of the northern and central areas of the London Borough of Barnet. The county town is Hertford. Many examples of Neolithic, Bronze Age, and Roman remains have been discovered in Hertfordshire and there are a number of Roman roads throughout the county. Modern-day Hertfordshire is served by a network of rail links and direct roads to London.


    Banns of marriage, more commonly known simply as the ‘banns’ (from a Middle English word meaning ‘proclamation’, rooted in the Old French), are the public announcement in a Christian parish church of an impending marriage. Banns were announced in the home parishes of the parties involved for three Sundays in a row in the three months leading up to the wedding date. If the record does not state the marriage date, it can be estimated by the date of the last banns announcement. However, keep in mind that banns are not a confirmation that a marriage took place. In some cases, the banns may have been announced, but for whatever reason, the couple did not proceed with the marriage.

    The purpose of banns was to prevent invalid marriages by allowing anyone to raise any canonical or legal impediment to the marriage. These impediments might include a pre-existing marriage that had neither been dissolved nor annulled, a vow of celibacy, a lack of consent, or the couple being related within the prohibited degrees of kinship. Couples could obtain a marriage licence for a fee if they wished to waive the banns period. There are different reasons why couples married by licence instead of by banns; they may have wanted to get married quickly, they may have wanted to show that they could pay for a licence, or they may have desired to wed away from home.