What is this index? Well, it is a list of English marriage details which have been taken from the parish marriage registers, Bishop’s Transcripts and also the actual marriage licences covering the period 1538-1840. This could prove to be quite useful for your family genealogy research.
Bishops Transcripts are lists which, from 1598 had to be provided by each parish and sent to their Bishop, showing all baptisms, marriages and burials performed each year. Most of these transcripts which have survived are held in each local record office.
I have found these to be very useful in the past when I have been doing my research because sometimes the actual parish register has not survived for one reason or another, but the Bishop’s Transcripts, having been stored elsewhere may have survived in a reasonable condition. They can be very useful in tracing family trees.
After 1837 of course, registration became compulsory so there has been access to a complete list of births, marriages and deaths available covering everyone in Britain who was born, married or died after that date.
In the beginning Boyds Marriage Index was the work of just one man and it was produced at his own expense, Percival Boyd was his name. It was supported by him between 1925 and 1955 and since Percival Boyd died in 1955 has been carried on by others and expanded.
Every English county is covered, although I regret to say that none of them are absolutely complete. Over 4,300 parish registers have been indexed which gives a total of over 7 million names. There should be some information here to help with your family search.
Anyone researching East Anglian ancestry is in luck because this area is almost complete, and over 95% of all the ancient parishes are included.
You cannot get this data anywhere else, even the IGI [International Genealogical Index has quite a limited coverage of these details]. Each entry will give you the first and last name of the groom and the same for the bride, the year the marriage was performed, the county and parish where the marriage was performed, and also the record source, i.e. where the information was originally taken from. Any or all of this information is crucially important for your family history research.
You should not expect though, that Boyds includes all marriages from before 1837, there are really only about 15% included.
A person called Cliff Webb is filling in the ‘gaps’ for the city of London and Middlesex as far as possible. This ’supplement’ has been added to the database of British Origins along with Boyd’s index records.
British Origins link is http://www.originsnetwork.com
This is obviously a ‘work in progress’, so far for London and Middlesex almost 96,000 marriages have been included [which means almost 200,000 names], that is over 50,000 City of London marriages and 46,000 for Middlesex. Within this group there are over 3,000 Jewish marriages, over 3,100 Roman Catholic marriages and 862 Huguenot marriages.
I believe that all the details of these marriages [excluding the Jewish marriages taken from the Great Synagogue] cannot be obtained anywhere else online.
These indexes are all available for viewing if you are visiting the Society of Genealogists Library in person at 14 Charterhouse Buildings, Goswell Road, London EC1M 7BA. There are fees for non-members, so it is best to check on these before you visit, covering 1 hour up to a full day. Plus they have quite strict regulations and you should check on which identity proof you may need, a drivers license or a passport for instance.