dee_burris: (Default)
Dee Burris Blakley ([personal profile] dee_burris) wrote2010-12-21 18:10

Wedding Wednesday: Marriage Bonds

It was a friend of my son's, looking over my shoulder one afternoon, who asked the questions.

Why were there so many sections to the old marriage licenses? And what was a marriage bond? Did people really have to post a cash bond to get married back then?

I used my 2X great grandmother's second as an example.


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There were four parts to a marriage record in 1878 in Arkansas - the bond, the license, the certificate of marriage, and the certificate of record.

The bond required a principal and his security - the principal's back-up if he had to pay the $100 and couldn't. ($100 in 1878 had the same buying power as $2190.75 does today.)

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The bond was required in the event it was later found that one or both parties could not legally contract for marriage. It was a penal bond, essentially a punishment for lying.

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If, for example, one or the other parties was underage, was married to someone else, or had been coerced, the marriage could be set aside.

And someone had to pay the piper, as it were...