Today I came across a new source that I had never heard of before – Espousal books. It seems they were used to record betrothals up until the early seventeenth century. A betrothal was considered to be almost as binding and valid as a marriage. Few such books have survived and I haven’t managed to locate any Gloucestershire examples. Has anyone ever seen one?
I had an interesting experience yesterday. A client very tactfully suggested that the information I had sent him about a marriage contradicted an entry for the same event listed in Phillimore’s Marriages and also 6 entries in the IGI so I checked the Minchinhampton registers to see who was correct.
To begin, I checked the specific marriage registers and could not find the entry at all until I noted that the minister had mixed up all the banns and marriages and they were not in the correct order. Presumably he had filled in the banns as they occurred but then he had extra marriages to enter when people married by licence so couldn’t always fit the marriage to its banns. The result was a very muddled register. I did eventually find the marriage and was rather disappointed to find that Phillimore and the IGI were correct – the bride’s name was Hester and not Elizabeth as I had thought.
However, I also needed to check the general register for a burial at the same time and while searching that document, I realised that the minister had, quite unnecessarily, entered the marriages there as well as in the special marriage registers produced from 1754 following the Hardwicke Act. And when I came to 1759, there was a second entry for the marriage I was interested in. And this time, the bride’s name was Elizabeth! All other details were the same. So – was she Hester or was she Elizabeth? Next week, I will look at the Bishops Transcripts to see what is said in there.
As they say,
you should always have three separate sources for every fact