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A pair of direct forebears, my 3xgreat-grandparents, eloped in the early-mid 1790s. He, Edward McDowell, had been the family coachman when he ran away with Susan of unknown surname. A 1797 naval record of their residence in Dublin records Susan as Edward's wife. However, a search of 17 collections of marriage records in England (and other collections for the rest of the UK) has not come up with any record of a marriage. Given that neither evidently lived long enough to be recorded in census surveys, a marriage record of some kind is my only hope of finding out Susan's family name - who she was. I'm hoping that someone has some expertise on the role of ship captains in conducting marriages and knows where records of such events would've been filed. For instance, although they may have been recorded in a ship's log, would they have been passed on to the national bureaucracy in some form? Was a marriage licence of some kind necessary?

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    I can only offer a couple of things from the National Archives: a brief summary of where you might find records and this pay book information which confirms the information you have but also gives his rank and ship. Sorry if you have all of that already. – pbasdf Apr 29 '20 at 8:16
  • If it is possible that the marriage took place in Ireland, then the chances of there being a surviving record are slim. Some 2/3 of Church of Ireland marriage entries were destroyed in 1922, while the earlier you go, there are less chances of Catholic records being kept. And this is before the start date of records for some RC parishes, I believe. – AdrianB38 Apr 29 '20 at 17:49
  • Thank you both. I shall certainly follow up the fantastic advice and links concerning the GRO and findmypast supplied by pbasdf - great leads here so I send deep gratitude! Adrian, I realise that Irish records are scant and scattered; furthermore, this was not a Catholic marriage and unlikely, I suspect, to have been conducted in any sort of parish, Catholic or Church of Ireland/England - that said, many collections have been searched by me and others, with no results for this runaway pair. Anyway, I much appreciate your time and attention to my knotty family mystery. – JMK Apr 30 '20 at 5:11

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