18 February 2015

Needing Permission to Get Married?

When searching and utilizing marriage records, do you always consider the age of the bride and groom? Do you ask yourself if they were of legal age to marry and what additional information may be in their marriage record if consent was required?

Going back as far as my great-great-grandparents, I only have two ancestral couples where one party was under the marrying age and required permission from their parents.

  • My maternal grandmother was 16 when she married in 1941. The marriage application gives the names of her parents (which I already knew) and her mother gave consent for the marriage. Her mother did not sign the marriage application and the application only says "mother" gives consent. All marriage applications during this time in Illinois required names of parents so that information being on the application is not unusual.
  • My great-great-grandmother Trautvetter was 17 when she married in 1868. Her family lived some distance from the county seat and her husband-to-be apparently obtained the license at the courthouse by himself, taking a letter of permission for her to marry signed by her parents. 
Remember that the age to marry with (or without) consent is set by state statute and can vary over time. Do you always take the age of the marrying parties into account when searching marriage records to make certain you have obtained the entire record?