Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Marriage Consents and Returns

A marriage return is a document that officially records a wedding. It is completed by the person, such as a pastor, who solemnized the marriage.  It is called a “return” because it must be returned to the court that legally records marriages.  Returns in Licking County have typically indicated the names of the bride, groom and person who solemnized the marriage, along with the wedding date.  Sometimes the names of witnesses are also included.  Older marriage returns were called "Marriage Certificates" in Licking County, because they provided the Probate Court with certification that the couple actually got married.  Today, a marriage certificate is typically the document which the court gives to a couple after they are married.
A Marriage Return, sent by the minister to the Probate Court.  Note that
these records were called "Marriage Certificates" in the 1920's.
Marriage consents are documents proving that a parent or guardian gives consent for a person who is a legal minor to marry.  The minor must also meet a minimum legal age for marrying with such a consent.  Some earlier consent records are simply notes which were written by parents or guardians, and then given to the court.  Others are standardized forms which were filled out by the parent or guardian.  Consent documents indicate the names of the guardian, parent or parents who give consent, and the name of the minor for whom they are responsible.  Sometimes the name of the other prospective spouse is included, along with additional information such as the home of the parent or guardian.

A Marriage Consent, signed by the parents of a
prospective bride, and filed with the Probate Court
Licking County Returns and Consents from the years 1869 to 1950 were found in the former county jail, and are now cataloged and located in our department (only a very tiny proportion of records date from before the 1875 courthouse fire).  The consents and returns can be useful if there are gaps in the court marriage registers, or for other reasons.  Sometimes the intention of a couple to marry was recorded in the register, but the occurrence of an actual wedding was not recorded.  A marriage return will confirm that the marriage was solemnized.  Consent records will give a clue to the age of a minor who was getting married with proper, legal consent, although these records will not necessarily show the actual age of the minor.