Marriage Bonds Index of Cork and Ross Ireland, 1628-1750


Owing to circumstances peculiar to the county of Cork, the Marriage Licence bonds between the above dates are in most cases the only official evidence now available of the marriages to which they refer. The best evidence of a marriage in past times is of course the entry thereof in a Parish Register, but in county Cork very few of these registers contain records earlier than about A.D. 1800, and none, except Christ Church, Cork (ad. 1643 to 1878, but with a large chasm from 1666 to 1703), St. Mary Shandon, Cork (1671 to 1873), St. Multose, Kinsale (1684 to 1875), extend back into the seventeenth century. Kilgariffe (Clonakilty) begins in 1700, but has a chasm between 1753 and 1794. The next best evidence is a Marriage Licence, but the Grant Books for Cork Marriage Licences, preserved in the Public Record Office only commence in 1750, so that before that date this class of evidence also is wanting in most cases in county Cork.

In the absence of Parish Registers and of Marriage Licence Grants, the next best evidence (which in such absence becomes then primary presumptive evidence) is a Marriage Licence Bond. Such a bond had to be entered into before a Bishop would grant his license for a proposed marriage, because the Bishop was open to an action for damages if he issued a licence for the solemnisation of a marriage against which there existed some "canonical let or impediment," or some other legal objection such as a pre-contract of one of the parties to marry some other person; and so, to protect himself, the Bishop required two solvent persons, of whom the intending bridegroom was generally one, to enter into a bond for a sum stated therein - generally proportioned to the status of the parties that there existed no such impediment of objection.

It will thus be seen that the Marriage Licence bonds of the diocese of Cork and Ross from their commencement to A.D. 1750 are of the highest value to genealogists, or to those who have to prove their descent for the purposes of claiming property, or making or proving pedigrees connected with that portion of the county Cork, included in the diocese of Cork and Ross.

These bonds contain the names of the respective persons proposing to be married, and of the surety who joins, generally with the intending bridegroom, in the bond, and the residences or parishes of these persons, with occasionally other particulars relative to them. The bonds themselves, to which the subjoined list of names and dates is the Index, are on record in the Public Record Office of Ireland, Four Courts, Dublin; and any person can, on application and payment of the prescribed fees obtain from that office a certified copy of any of these bonds, or of any portion of a bond, e.g. omitting the merley formal part if not required.

This book is an index of these bonds and contains an alphabetical listing of the bride and groom along with the year of the marriage bond.