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Marriage Records Before 1699

Updated on August 29, 2011

Originally Published 1926

By William Montgomery Clemens

Let me explain, right up front, there are now many books you can “read” in digital form that has been scanned and uploaded for your use by several companies. The book has to be out of copyright and is probably also out-of-print. One such book is by Google Books. Just “Google” for the entire title and it will take you to the scanned edition. This is all free.

Being free and online does not mean that the book is useless. The information is just as good now as it was when first published in 1926. The fact that it was published by the Genealogical Publishing Co., in 1967 and again in 1975 and yet again in 1977 shows the information is badly needed. So much so that the uploading of it was one of Google Books first endeavors.

William Montgomery Clemens was born in 1860 and died in 1931. William Clemens was also a newspaper man, as well as author of over one hundred books.

...the compiler of this volume began, a score of years ago, to assemble the thousands of marriage records in this country covering the Colonial period, from the arrival of the first emigrants in James Town... down to the year of 1700

Imagine if you will, what these thousands of marriages meant to the future of the Republic, for from these united husbands and wives were to come descendants now numbering many millions of Americans.

You really need to read entire introduction to get a feel of what Americawas all about. He continues with a section titled The Colonies Before 1699,where he outlines the building of America.

In 1610 the sufferings of the colony were extreme, both on account of the hostility of the Indians and the want of provisions. Of near five hundred persons left at the departure of Captain Smith sixty only remained at the expiration of six months. ... A provincial legislature in which the colonist were represented, was established in 1612. Inthe following year the settlement was increased and strengthened by the accession of more than twelve hundred persons. As many of the settlers were destitute of wives, the company sent over one hundred and fifty girls, young and handsome. The price of a wife at first was one hundred pounds of tobacco, but as the number was diminished the price was increased to one hundred and fifty pounds, the value of which in money was three shillings per pounds. The first negroes were imported into Virginia in 1620. In the following year Sir Francis Wyatt arrived as governor with seven hundred people ...

And this was the beginning of America. As to the cost of “the girls,” remember it cost to feed, clothe, and transport “the girls” to a new land. The hundred pounds of tobacco was taken back to Englandand sold to pay the expenses of this endeavor.

It is surprising the information you can find in the “introduction” of old books. The authors very seldom sugar-coated the truth, nor were they politically correct as to today’s standards. Our ancestors were more than just names and dates. You need to understand the people as well as the times they lived in; you need to understand their way of life was not ours.

The marriage records are compiled into alphabetical list from Abbott to Zane; both male and female are alphabetized. An addendum is added at the back of the 1978 copy I own. Most of the marriages listed in this book took place in Massachusetts or Connecticut; some are from New Hampshire; a few from Maryland, New York, and other places, but the majority fromM assachusetts.

­The books I tell you about are only to make you aware they exist. Many can be found in your nearest local “genealogy” library. Many are out of print or into 3rd or 10th reprint. If they are available for purchase I will try to let you know, but check your local library first to see if it is something that you really want a copy of for your personal use.

My standard warning to all researchers: You would do well to remember that not everything is on the internet. Someone had to type and put up any information you find online; so with re-typing comes errors... on top of the original errors. However, there is a lot of information on the internet and you would do well to search for your genealogical information there first. Most of all remember that books, as well as the internet, are to be used as road maps to the “original” records.

Just don’t forget to document your research in case you have to go back to the same record over and over!


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