Book 1: 1853-1895
Edited by L. Roane Hunt
marriage records are handwritten in a large book and extend across a
double page width, generally, in chronological order. Each marriage entry
appears to have been made from information supplied by the officiating
ministers. Therefore, multiple entries of the same minister often appear
in consecutive order because he would accumulate his most recent marriage
records before submitting them at his convenience during a visit to the
courthouse. This would explain occasional errors that could occur in the
original records. Corrections are often made in the book either when
originally submitted or any time by anyone reading the records.
Sometimes, these corrections hid the original script.
The entries begin with the date and place of
the marriage ceremony. Then, the names of the husband and wife are given
along with their ages, marital condition (single or widowed), place of
birth, residence, and the names of their parents. Sometimes the mother’s
maiden name is indicated, however, this is a matter of interpretation.
Generally, it is recommended that the researcher personally inspect the
record to determine the correct interpretation of the script. Finally,
the husband’s occupation and the name of the minister performing the
ceremony are given. The format of the records presented in this book is
basically the same as presented in the earlier book of these records by
Mrs. Frances Haywood.
The present records are listed in paragraph
form with the page and line number indicated first, for example:
“Pg.1/Ln.1/ George W. Jenkins…” The forward slash follows the page and
line numbers. The husband’s name, age, occupation, birthplace and
residence follow. If no birthplace or residence is given, the place is
understood to be Gloucester County. The parents’ names are given after
the symbol, s/o, meaning “son of” and d/o, meaning “daughter of.”
Generally, the father’s given name is typed first followed by the mother’s
given name, then her maiden name and the father’s surname. In the cases
where the child’s surname did not match the father’s surname, the father’s
given name and surname are given first, followed by the mother’s name.
Corresponding information is then given for the wife except no occupation
is given for the wife. Finally, the marriage date and minister’s name
were given. (Dates are represented with no comma between day and year.)
Effort was made to properly interpret the record, but it is recommended
that if there is any confusion, the user should personally examine the
In the marriage records,
there was no column for race designation, however, many of the lines
included such notation. At the beginning of the record including
period of the Civil War, the favored notation was “free persons of color,“
in the latter portion, “colored” was used extensively. It is of some
significance that other terms were not used such as, “white” or “mulatto,”
although they were included in the federal census during this period.
Generally, the race notation was not done consistently throughout the
records. Actually, it appears that most of this notation was done in
retrospect to sort the information by race. For some periods in the
records, no attempt was made to distinguish between races.
For the present book, the notations of race
information are included because of its historical value, however, there
were many colored couples not labeled and some white couples mislabeled as
colored. It seems that it would have been proper to correct the record in
this respect, however, such a task was too great for the present book
project. The reader should realize that white ministers continued to
perform the ceremonies for the colored couples long after the colored
ministers were well established. During this period, it appears that
white couples were always married by white ministers. These guidelines
should help in sorting these marriages by racial distinction.
Considering the three vital records kept in the
Clerk’s Office: births, deaths, and marriages; the marriage records are
obviously the most reliable and useful. The practice of recording births
and deaths seemed almost arbitrary. However, the recording of correct and
proper marriage information was a matter of obedience to the official and
unofficial laws of the county. During these years, society was seldom
tolerant of the cohabitation of unmarried couples and illegitimate
children. Therefore, most citizens were careful to have their marriages
The present records provide some occasional
extra or extraneous information in connection to the marriages.
Generally, it appears that the marriages were conducted in the homes of
the husband or wife or the homes of a relative or neighbor, rather than in
churches. Sometimes extra details about the minister were given in terms
of his title and church.
Ministers That Preformed the
of Marriages Recorded in Book 1
Elder William S.
463 Marriages (1853-1883
Rev. John W. Booth
364 Marriages (1874-1895)
Ministered until his death in 1923
His marriage is recorded
on page 69, line 658.
His parents, Jack and Betsy Booth,
are included in the list of Marriage Certificates for Freedmen.
Elder William E.
463 Marriages (1856-1895)
Ministered until his death in 1918
His third marriage is recorded
on page 93, line 970.