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My grandmother (deceased 1931) married in 1919 in Victoria, Australia. My mother tells how her mother forgot to register her marriage and when she remembered about it, it was decided they would not do so, as they were scared of any fines.

I have the original marriage certificate from the clergy who performed the ceremony, which gives the priest name, role and religion, location, both names, date, signature of parties, priest and 2 witnesses.

I have searched Victoria's Marriage records and have found no possible record.

What additional information should I seek to class this as proven?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 14 down vote accepted

You need to be clear about just what it is that you want to prove. There will be many forms of evidence that your grandmother was in a relationship with another person (cohabitation, joint property, and children). If you want to demonstrate that she went through a ceremony on a particular day, you say that you have a document produced at the time by a person central to the event.

I suspect that you want to prove that the lady was married and that becomes a matter of definition. In the eyes of the civil law, the fact that the relationship was not "registered" might mean that she was not. Presumably in the eyes of the church in which the ceremony took place, she was wed.

It may be that the problem you face is exactly that relating to common law marriage. The conclusive evidence that a couple were married comes from how they were regarded by the rest of their family and by the broader community. Letters addressed to Mr and Mrs X can indicate the accepted status of a couple.

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First you need to establish if the certificate has any legal backing from the province where the wed took place. As a matter of fact if the preceding priest has government registration to issue a certificate then by the mandate of provincial law she was married by law. If the document issued does not have legal qualification then it's a common law marriage which is no - marriage by the standard of the law. Your document proves marriage if and only if the government or law has given the issuer the legal authority to perform such duties.

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While your answer is certainly correct in general terms your second sentence appears to be assuming a particular jurisdiction and making definitive statements based on that assumption. It would probably be better to write in more generic terms, unless you are providing specific details of the law in the jurisdiction (which we now know to be Victoria, Australia) where this event took place. –  TomH Jan 6 '13 at 13:59
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It may be that the marriage was not registered at the same time as it occured. The FAQ for Victoria registrars suggests that you search either side of the date of the event. Two indexes to Victoria civil registrations are available online.

The marriage laws of Victoria were based on English law, but would have diverged from the original by 1919. You should check the laws in place in Victoria at the time.

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