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Boyd's Marriage Index

Image of tomb from Hadley Church, Middlesex

Image of tomb from Hadley Church, Middlesex


Boyd's Marriage Index, available on microfiche, is an index of English marriages 1538-1837, drawn from marriage registers (although not always the original registers - in many cases the Index was based on copies), Bishops' Transcripts and marriage licences. It contains over six million entries, and is thought to cover between 12 and 15 per cent of all the marriages which took place in England during these three centuries. It includes no Scottish, Welsh or Irish material.

The arrangement of the Index is rather complex and is divided into three series. To find a particular marriage, first look in the Main Series for the county, then for the period, and then the surname you are seeking. If you do not find a section for the county you want, or if the county is there but you have failed to find the marriage, then check the Second and Third Series.

The Main Series is arranged in alphabetical order by county, and covers Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Cumberland, Derbyshire, Devonshire, Durham, Essex, Gloucestershire, Lancashire, London (defined as the City of London and the county of Middlesex), Norfolk, Northumberland, Shropshire, Somerset, Suffolk and Yorkshire. Each county is then subdivided into ten periods: 1538-1600, 1601-1625, 1626-1650, 1651-1675, 1676-1700, 1701-1725, 1726-1750, 1751-1775, 1776-1800, and 1800-1837. Each of these subdivisions is then arranged alphabetically by surname.  All marriages are indexed under the names of both bride and groom, but for some counties the brides and grooms are listed in a single sequence, while in others they are divided into two separate sequences.

The Second and Third Series contain marriages for the remaining English counties, and some additional marriages for the counties included in the Main Series. They are not divided by county; but are subdivided into the same time periods as the Main Series (except that the Second Series contains no entries after 1775), and are then alphabetical by surname.

Percival Boyd, the principal compiler of the Index, applied a phonetic system to the arrangement of surnames, which can create pitfalls: silent letters, such as the K in Knight, are usually ignored, so that this name would be filed as if it began with N. It is always advisable for genealogists to check variant spellings of a surname, and it is particularly essential with this Index.  Further details about the Index, including lists of the abbreviations used, are given in a List of Parishes in Boyd's Marriage Index available from the enquiry desk.

Webb’s supplement to Boyd’s marriage index for London and Middlesex

Cliff Webb is producing a supplementary index to marriages in London and Middlesex parishes not covered by Boyd’s original index, the International genealogical index or Pallot’s marriage index. The first supplement includes nearly 100,000 names and is arranged alphabetically by name of bride and groom, not in chronological sections, as Boyd’s original index was arranged. Also included is a list of the churches covered, the whereabouts of their original marriage registers and which years of these registers are covered (or not) by which indexes.

25 October 2012
Last Modified:
02 September 2019