Detail View: Archbishops' Records:

VH 91/7
Marriage Allegations: Bocking only
Vicar General
Until the abolition of most peculiar or exempt jurisdictions in 1845, the deanery of Bocking came under the jurisdiction of the archbishop of Canterbury. The deanery comprised the parishes of Bocking, Latchingdon, Stisted and Southchurch in Essex and Hadleigh, Monks Eleigh and Moulton in Suffolk. The jurisdiction was exercised on the archbishop's behalf by the dean or co-deans of Bocking. It was customary for the rectors of both Bocking and Hadleigh to be appointed co-deans of Bocking on institution to their respective benefices. As regards the issue of common marriage licences, these were granted by the deans of Bocking, as for example Nicholas Wakeham, rector of Bocking (1774-1802) and Edward Auriol Hay Drummond, rector of Hadleigh (1796-1830), or their surrogates. As a general rule, the dean who held the rectory of Hadleigh was responsible for the Suffolk parishes, and his co-dean, the rector of Bocking, administered the Essex parishes. The surrogates were local clergymen, as for example James Richards, curate of Hadleigh in the 1770s, and Richard White, curate of Bocking, c. 1802-12. Parishioners within the deanery of Bocking could apply to the deans of Bocking for common marriage licences. But like other residents within the province of Canterbury, they could also apply for a common licence to the archbishop's vicar general or master of the faculties. Common licences merely dispensed with the necessity of having banns read in the parish church of both parties to the marriage on three successive Sundays: they did not dispense with any impediments, such as affinity or consanguinity, or prior contract. The records calendared in this volume relate to the issue of marriage licences issued by the deans of Bocking and their surrogates from 1771 to 1831. They comprise the allegations, or sworn statements submitted in application for licences, from 1771-1831, and a parallel series of bonds from 1771 until the abolition of the practice of issuing bonds in 1823. During this period a total of 478 licences were granted by these officials for the Peculiar of Bocking in the name of the archbishop of Canterbury. These records are in Lambeth Palace Library in the collection of marriage records of the Archbishop's Peculiars. The rest of this collection relates to the Peculiars in the city of London (the deanery of the Arches), Kent (Shoreham), and Middlesex and Surrey (Croydon). Marriage allegations record the names of both parties to the marriage, their status - bachelor, spinster, widower or widow -, their parish, whether they were over or under twenty-one (sometimes a notional age is given), and the parish church for which the licence was to be granted. Where either party was a minor (i.e. under 21 years), consent of the minor's parents or guardians in the absence of parents was required and this consent was normally appended to or noted in the allegation. Following Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act of 1753 (26 Geo II, c.33), couples applying for common licences were only authorised to marry in the parish church or chapelry where they had resided for at least four weeks before the issue of a licence. Couples were expected to observe these residential qualifications, which were reduced to three weeks in 1823. All the marriages were licensed to take place in the parish churches of the deanery of Bocking.1 The most popular of these were Bocking in Essex and Hadleigh in Suffolk. No marriages were licensed for the parish of Southchurch; nor did any parishioner apply to the deans of Bocking for a licence. In most cases both parties were local to Essex or Suffolk. There were however a few people who came from further afield, such as Brighton, Bristol, Chislehurst or Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The Rev. William Hildyard of Barton, Lincs., was licensed in December 1793 to marry in Monks Eleigh, the alleged parish church of his bride, Catherine. She was the daughter of Isle Grant of Ruckland in Lincolnshire. Marriage allegations of the late 18th and early 19th centuries rarely record the profession of the bridegroom, though social status is sometimes given. Profession is more generally noted in the marriage bond, and after the abolition of bonds in 1823, details of profession are rarely ascertainable from the marriage licences. For a brief period between September 1822 and March 1823, applicants were required to provide certified copies of the record of their baptism. There are four examples of applications conforming to this requirement in the Bocking allegations: in each case a draft copy of the licence is included (VH 91/7/248-65). The calendar records information about the applicants for licences abstracted from both the allegations and bonds. It does not however list the bondsmen or witnesses. Where the calendar indicates that both parties came from the same parish, the reader should assume that marriage was licensed to take place in the parish church. Where the bride and groom came from different parishes, the calendar specifies the church for which the licence was valid. The calendar also assumes that the bride and groom were aged twenty-one or above unless otherwise specified. Where a precise age, other than '21 and above', is given in the allegation, this is noted in the calendar. The calendar of marriage licences was originally compiled by two assistants, Mark Bowden and Timothy Moore, and has been expanded, notably with additional indexes, and edited by the archivists.
20 January 1790 - 19 October 1831