I'll try to keep this simple. Two sisters ended up marrying two brothers. As a result the two marriages have a common set of parents.

Therefore, I have two marriage certificates in front of me. Up until now I was only paying attention to the 1942 certificate because it was for my wife's Grandparents. On that certificate it says this under the Groom's father entry:

Alexander Harris

However, I have now looked in more detail at the other marriage certificate from 1938. That one says:

Alexander Campbell Harris (Deceased)

It has the added details of the Groom's father being deceased. Which would mean he was deceased in 1942.

The fact would be correct because of the recent death certificate we found for Alexander which was in 1935.

So, why did the 1942 certificate not state the Groom's father was deceased? I assume it was not mandatory to make these clarifications?


To the best of my knowledge, it was never mandatory to record that the father of the bride or groom was deceased for marriages in England and Wales. I do not believe that it was specified in any of the Acts of Parliament that governed Civil Registration, and is not explicitly required on the pre-printed forms (the pro-forma being specified in Schedule C of the original 1836 Act that introduced Civil Registration in England and Wales.

There is a guide printed in 1875, titled: The Acts Relating to the Registration of Births, Deaths, & Marriages: And the Duties of Registration Officers, by James T. Hammick, which I have often found useful when trying to understand what is recorded on BMD records, and the reasons why it was recorded in a particular way.

In this case, the guide offers no explicit guidance, so the fact that the father was deceased would probably have been recorded had the information been volunteered, but they would not necessarily have asked for it.

  • My understanding from memory is that there is no enforceable requirement to even give the father's name. I have certainly seen marriages where the bride, being illegitimate, didn't give her father's name, and the groom, though legitimate, didn't give his father's name, either. – AdrianB38 Jan 26 '19 at 17:35
  • @AdrianB38 The requirements changed over time, and were specified in the various Acts of Parliament that governed central registration. The fact that it was required on the form meant that the father's name should have been given, but as far as I can see, there is no explicit requirement for it, or the form that it should take. I have even seen one example where the (presumably illegitimate) groom gave his father's name followed by the word 'reputed'! – sempaiscuba Jan 26 '19 at 18:24
  • Totally agree with you - that's why I wrote no "enforceable" requirement. – AdrianB38 Jan 26 '19 at 18:28

No it was not mandatory to record that a parent was deceased on a marriage record.

Some jurisdictions, in some time periods, would include fields to record occupation or residence of parents (where you may find death documented). But there was always the possibility that the person filling the form didn't know the parent's status (or didn't think it was relevant).

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