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century, whereby the groom and a bondsman (usually a relative) put up a bond of money to be forfeited if it was subsequently revealed that the couple were marrying illegally. The advantages were speed - you could marry immediately - and there was a considerable social caché attached to the practise as well. The records were issued by the local archdeacon, bishop or even archbishop, can be found using Gibson's guide to Bishops Transcripts (see Further Reading). They comprise a bond and allegation (declaring the intention to marry, and stating the parties' names, home parishes, and sometimes ages, and father's names if the parties were under 21) and a license, which, if it has survived, will be in the parish chest.

Again, these can give proper genealogical information on family relationships. More usually, though, they will give some of those extra co-ordinates which, combined with other evidence, will enable you to prove your family tree.

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