Breaking Down Marriage Records

by Amy Johnson Crow

Posted on March 10, 2014

Marriage records can contain a surprising amount of information. It's easy to confuse some of the dates and names. Let's take a look at a marriage record and break it down to see what it's really telling us.

Here's a civil marriage record from Grayson County, Texas, from the collection Texas, Grayson County Marriages on


The record is in two parts. The top part is actually the marriage license:

"To any Judge of the District Court, Judge of the County Court, Ordained or Licensed Minister, Jewish Rabbi or Justice of the Peace of Grayson County--Greeting:

"You are hereby authorized to celebrate the Rites of Matrimony between George T. Miller and Mrs. Mary Stiles..."

This means that George T. Miller and Mrs. Mary Stiles are able to be married.

"Witness my official signature and seal, this 12th day of July 1893. T.W. Hudson, Clerk. By G. A. Dickerman, Deputy"

This means that the license was issued on 12 July 1893 by G.A. Dickerman, Deputy, under the authority of T.W. Hudson, Clerk. 

It's the bottom part of the marriage record that has the actual marriage information:

"I do hereby certify that on the 13th day of July 1893, I united in Marriage George T. Miller and Mrs. Mary Stiles the parties above named. Witness my hand, this 17th day of July 1893. F. C. Gillrem, A Minister of the Gospel."

George and Mary were married on 13 July 1893 by F.C. Gillrem, a minister of the Gospel. Gillrem recorded the marriage on 17 July 1893.

There are a couple of other important clues in this marriage record. The bride is named as "Mrs." This means that she has been married before. She might be widowed or divorced; we don't know from this record, but we should start looking for earlier marriage records for Mary. Also, they were married by F.C. Gillrem, "a Minister of the Gospel." We should investigate Gillrem and identify what church he was affiliated with. That church might have more records about George and Mary. 

It's easy to mix up names and dates on a marriage record. Take it piece by piece and you'll be able to keep everything straight. 

Amy Johnson Crow is a Genealogical Content Manager for She is a Certified Genealogist and blogs regularly for Roots & Branches, the official blog. Amy has deep roots in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states and she has rarely been to a cemetery that she didn't like. 

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