Britsh soldiers/sailors + the American War of Independence. :: Genealogy
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Britsh soldiers/sailors + the American War of Independence.

Question by mowsehowse

I have been searching for a couple who married by special licence in 1779, (at the Parish & Priory Church of St Mary, High Street, Totnes, Devon, UK).

The special licence meant that the marriage could take place without the need to wait the statutory three weeks while Banns were called, and was particularly useful where either party had not at any time had his or her usual place of residence in the parish for at least 6 months.

In this case the bride definitely had residency within the Parish of Totnes as she had previously been in receipt of Parish Aid.

The fact of the licence also suggests that speed was more important than the cost involved.

Having ruled out the statutory obligations, I have spent many happy years musing on why this couple resorted to a special licence - I am sure there must be many reasons, but an obvious suggestion is that the groom was a soldier or sailor about to embark on a campaign, which given the date, could feasibly have been the American War of Independence.

QUESTION: are there any specific records regarding British personnel involved?

It is a long shot, but I would welcome all suggestions of where I might find records, or other ideas.

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by mowsehowse Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2012-05-10 14:19:53

mowsehowse , from Once a Londoner, now happily retired to sunny Devon., has been a Family Tree Circles member since Feb 2011. is researching the following names: WAYMOUTH, WYATT, ROWSE and 8 other(s).

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by janilye on 2012-05-10 18:40:34

I don't know about specific records for British personnel but I do know British law which was church law when it came to marriage. It was the same for everyone.
Marriages were usually announced by banns being posted over 3 weeks in both parish's where the parties lived. So if a couple wanted to get married in a parish where neither lived they applied for a special license.
Another reason is if they wanted to be married elsewhere other than in a building authorised for marriage according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England, for example, in somebody's house, a hall, school or pub &c.
You'll notice when marriages are announced in the paper as having occurred in the home of the bride's parents &c. you will always see the preface 'by special license'

by janilye on 2012-05-10 22:53:07

Forgot to mention the records would be with the bishop of the diocese where either party was baptised. Or if they lived in another parish for more than 6 months they could have applied there. Too much to go into -
I found this site mowsehowse, which will elaborate and might give you some clues as to where you may find these applications today.

by mowsehowse on 2012-05-11 02:41:29

Hi Janilye, thanks for taking the trouble to reply.
They were certainly married in the local Church, and Grace had been resident for at least two years, (was eligible for Parish aid), but no idea where Henry sprang from.
Totnes was quite busy with sea traffic in those days so it possibly might have been Navy.
I have searched at the Devon records office for special licence but that one is not held amongst their collection.
However, will read up on applications aspect, and thank you for that.

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