For general information see
Introduction to Civil Registration

The Exploring Family History Tutorial

Marriage Certificate

Available for Marriages after July 1st 1837

Task: Identify and obtain the marriage certificate for James Horwood 

The quickest way to search the Marriage Certificate index is by using the FreeBMD web site.

First Name James
Last Name Horwood
From Mar 1855
To Dec 1863
Type Marriage
County Middlesex

The search produces 3 responses:

Marriages Mar 1857

Horwood James Kensington   1a 51

Marriages Dec 1859

Horwood James Clerkenwell 1b 809

Marriages Jun 1861

Horwood James Shoreditch 1c 338

By clicking on the page you can get all the marriage partners on this page and the 1861 entry gives

Marriages Jun 1861

Horwood James Shoreditch 1c 338
Shaw Henry Shoreditch 1c 338
Town Mary Shoreditch 1c 338

There should be a 4th entry (2 marriages per page of the register) - giving 2 male and 2 female names, but as one of them is Mary Town, who is the mother of Thomas William Horwood (view), there is no difficulty in deciding which was the right marriage certificate, which was obtained from the General Register Office.

Marriage solemnized at St James Church
in the  Parish of Shoreditch
in the County of Middlesex
When married June 30 1861
Name and surname James Horwood Mary Town
Age Full Full
Condition Widower Spinster
Rank or Profession Butcher -
Residence at the time of Marriage 15 South Street 15 South Street
Father's name and surname Thomas Alfred Horwood
William Town
Rank or profession of father Butcher Publican
Married in the  District Church after Banns
By me Tho. Pugh
This marriage was solemnized between us James Horwood Mary Town
in the Presence of us Charles Corner
Elizabeth Town
X her mark

Witnesses are often related to the happy couple. and Elizabeth Town (who couldn't write her name so made her mark) is almost certainly a close relative of Mary Town. Further investigation might show that Charles Corner is related to one or other of the couple, perhaps by marriage. The "of full age" unhelpfully does no more than say that the couple had passed their 21st birthday.

Result of Investigation

As expected, the certificate has identified the church where the marriage occurred, additional information of the couple's parents, and the name of two witnesses. However there is a big surprise (not mentioned in the bible (view)) as James Horwood is a widower - which immediately raises the question about what happened to his first wife, and were there any earlier children


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Page created November 2005