Marriage Records

What About Those Marriage Bonds?

Today we visit Woodford County, specifically going to the County Clerk’s office of long ago, to look at some of the early marriage bonds.  Taken at random, our examples range from 1793 to 1830.  I wanted to give you an idea of the variance of some of the early marriage bonds written by the county clerks.  All have the major points, the groom and bondsmen are bonded to the Commonwealth of Kentucky for fifty pounds, their heirs, executors and administrators are also bound by this oath.  And in the second paragraph, it talks about the impending marriage of the groom to his bride.  As long as they are married there is no need for this bond, and it becomes void upon the marriage.  But if there is no marriage the groom – and his bondsman – would owe fifty pounds to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  The bond is an intention to marry.  This amount was not paid unless the marriage didn’t go through.  Perhaps it was found that the groom was already married (perhaps he abandoned his first wife?).  Perhaps one of the parties died, or both decided they didn’t want to marry.  In these cases, no penalty was charged.  This was rarely the case as most marriages were celebrated.  The minister or justice of the peace brought proof of the marriages he performed to the county clerk’s office, sometimes just a list of names and dates, and these were entered into record.  The date of the bond is not necessarily the date of the marriage, although the wedding was usually held within a few days.

The second marriage bond must have been written in a hurry – perhaps the clerk, Cave Johnson, was very rushed – on his account or the grooms?  It is the shortest marriage bond I’ve found!

Several of the marriage bonds are accompanied by notes from the father or mother giving their permission for the daughter to marry.  One is an oath by the bride’s brother saying she is twenty-one years of age and is agreeable to the marriage.

And one is a printed bond – at a time when the letter ‘s’ was usually typed as an ‘f’.  In an article I read it said this is considered a long s.  Even though it is usually throughout a manuscript, there is the exception at the end of a word.  Success would be written fuccefs.  Confusing, isn’t it?  The long s was also used in handwriting.  If you look carefully at the f’s that are really s’s, note that when the f is crossed in the middle, only the left side is visible, whereas if an f is used, it is fully crossed.  Look at the last sentence in my example ‘else to remain in full force’ and you can see the difference between an s and an f – if you know what to look for!

Woodford County Marriage Bonds

Know all men by these presents that we, Henry Goss and Fielding Lewis, are held and firmly bound unto the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the just and full sum of fifty ponds to the payment of which well and truly to be made.  We bind ourselves, our heirs, jointly, several and firmly by these presents, sealed with our seals and dated this 17th day of January 1828.

The condition of the above obligation is such that whereas there is a marriage shortly intended to be solemnized between the above bound Henry Goss and Jane Lewis.  Now if there should be no lawful cause to obstruct said marriage than the above obligation to be void, else to remain in full force and virtue.

Henry Goss, Fielding Lewis

Witness John P. Saterwhite, D. C.

We, John Williams and Thomas Goram, do hereby bind and oblige ourselves, our heirs, executors and administrators, to pay unto the Governor of this Commonwealth the sum of fifty [pounds].

In case there should be a lawful cause to obstruct a marriage intended between the said Thomas and Sarah Williams.  Given under our hands this 14th day of May 1793.

John Williams, Thomas Gorham

Teste.  Cave Johnson

Know all men by these presents that we, Andrew Gudshall and [George Francis], are held and firmly bound unto his excellency the Governor in the penal sum of fifty pounds.  To which payment I bind myself, my heirs, executors, jointly and severally, firmly by these presents, sealed and dated this 5th day of October 1793.

The condition of the above obligation is such that whereas a license is desired for a marriage intended between the said Andrew and Betsey Payne.  Now if it should always after appear that there is no lawful cause to obstruct the said marriage, then this obligation to be void, else to remain in full force.

Andrew Gudshall, George Francis

Teste.  Cave Johnson

Know all men by these presents that we, Robert Gwyn and James C. Irvine, are held and firmly bound unto the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the just and full sum of fifty pounds to the payment of which well and truly to be made.  We bind ourselves, our heirs, jointly, severally and firmly by these presents, sealed with our seals and dated this 4th day of January 1830.

The condition of the above obligation is such that whereas there is a marriage shortly intended to be solemnized between the above bound Robert Gwyn and Mary Ann Yeagle.  Now if there should be no lawful cause to obstruct said marriage then the above obligation to be void, else to remain in full force and virtue.

Robert Gwyn, James C. Irvine

Test.  L. B. Wright

This is to show that I have no objections of Robert Gwyn marrying my daughter Mary Ann Yeagle, as witness my hand and seal this 4th day of January 1830.

Hannah Yeagle

Attest.  James C. Irvine, G. W. Irvine

Know all men by these presents, that we, Elijah Grooms and Davy Waters, are held and firmly bound unto James Garrard, Esquire, Governor, or Chief Magistrate of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, in the just and full sum of fifty pounds, current money of the said state, to whom payment well and truly to be made to our said governor and his successors, for the use of the commonwealth.  We bind ourselves, our heirs, executors and administrators, jointly, severally and firmly by these presents.  Sealed with our seals and dated this 5th day of November 1800.

The condition of the above obligation is such, that whereas there is a marriage shortly intended to be held and solemnized between the above bound Elijah Grooms and Comfort Brown, of the County of Woodford.  Wherefore, if there be no lawful impediment to the said marriage, then the above obligation to be void, else to remain in full force and virtue.

Elijah Grooms, Davy Waters

Teste.  G. Brooks

Mr. Brooks, Clerk Woodford County

Sir, you will please to grant Mr. Elijah Grooms license to marry my daughter, Comfort Brown, given under my hand this 5th day of November 1800.  Witness our hands.

Willson Brown, Mary Brown

Teste.  George Waters

Sworn to by Davy Waters 5th November 1800

G. Brooks

Know all men by these presents that we, John Gwinn and Amana Delove, are held and firmly bound unto his Excellency, Christopher Greenup, Governor of Kentucky, in the just and full sum of fifty pounds, to which payment well and truly to be made.  We bind ourselves, our heirs, sealed with our seals and dated this 3rd day of December 1806.

The condition of the above obligation is such that whereas there is a marriage shortly to be solemnized between John Gwinn and Elizabeth Adams.  Now if there should be [no] lawful cause to obstruct said marriage the same to be void, else to remain in full force and virtue.  Given under our hands this 3rd day of December 1806 and in the 15th year of the Commonwealth.

John Gwinn, Aman Delove

Teste.  John McKinney, Jr. 

Know all men by these presents that we, William Gerard and Edward M. Ayres, are held and firmly bound unto the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the just and full sum of fifty pounds to which payment well and truly to be made.  We bind ourselves, our heirs, jointly, severally and firmly by these presents, sealed and dated this 11th day of March 1825.

The condition of the above obligation is such that whereas there is a marriage shortly intended to be solemnized between the above bound William Gerard and Elizabeth Ann Ayres.  Now if there should be no lawful cause to obstruct said marriage then the above obligation to be void, else to remain in full force and virtue.

William Gerard, Edward M. Ayres

Test.  McKinney, Jr.

Woodford County Court

This day Edward M. Ayres personally appeared before the undersigned, one of the justices of the peace in and for the county aforesaid, and made oath that his sister, Elizabeth Ann Ayres, is twenty-one years of age and further that his said sister is willing for the clerk of the Woodford County Court to issue a license for her intermarriage with Mr. William Gerard.

Given under my hand this 11th day of March 1825.  Durk C. Bulk, JP

6 replies »

  1. Helped me to understand the marriage of my 2nd great Grandfather John C Robertson and Eliza Jane Wilson dated 9 Oct 1848

      • How was the term “Guardian” used in a Marriage Bond ? Statement… I John Cunningham hereby authorize the Clerk of the Nicholas County Court to enforce license to John C Robertson for whom I am guardian to marry Jane Wilson daughter of Joel Wilson of said County. Oct 7 1848 John Cunningham. I am trying to gather more knowledge about My 2nd Great Grandfather John C Robertson and possibly his parents and Eliza Jane Wilson and her father Joel. Hoping you may be able to help and many thanks Samuel J Robertson

      • Samuel, a guardian was usually in place if the father was deceased. Sometimes the mother was guardian, but an uncle or a friend of the father was sometimes named. It could also mean both parents were deceased. Guardians were generally named in the will, or at a later court date.

      • If I could sent you a copy of Marriage Bond could you help in its detail,, Mainly the bottom copy of statement as being a GUARDIAN. Can I send you my email and copy of Marriage Bond. Thank you for for time Samuel J Robertson

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