The image below has been clipped from the Marriage Certificate of my 3rd great grandparents Mary Symons and John Billin. That marriage took place on 5 Feb 1839 in the Chapel of Helston in the Parish of Wendron in the County of Cornwall.

It is all quite easy to read, except for three words (which are in round brackets). I apologise for the quality of this image but unfortunately it is the best I have to work with, and the certificate has only just been obtained from the General Records Office.

The full sentence to which the words belong is below the image. The words visible in the image are bolded, and those handwritten are italicised.

enter image description here

Married in the Chapel of Helston according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Established Church (???????? ???????? ???????) by me, J.W.Johns Curate

Does anyone have any thoughts on what the three words in brackets might be?

From the christening records of Mary's younger siblings (those born after 1820) it appears that the Symons denomination was Methodist. I am only now starting to examine how and when my ancestors changed their religions, and wondering whether the words I am unable to read may offer another clue.

  • Makes no sense but maybe as starting point: "Indies West Ref??ters certificate" (with last letter under the close bracket; alternative last word "certified")
    – bgwiehle
    May 29, 2014 at 23:37

1 Answer 1


It's "Superintendent Registrar's Certificate" - though I admit it does help to know the various ways of getting married rather than rely on the text. Generally marriages in the Church of England would take place after banns had been read in the parish churches of the two parties. There are various reasons for not getting banns - pre-1837 the couple could get a Licence, for instance, for all sorts of reasons ranging from a need for speed (reading the banns takes 3 weekly readings) or conspicuous consumption - licences cost money so not everyone could afford one.

Post-1837 I get lost in the various types but certificates and registrars got involved for various reasons. One possibility is that the chapel was not a normal authorised venue for marriages. Or maybe with one party being Methodist, the banns could not be read in the parish church of both parties??? (Guessing a bit here). Often one sees comments that the Registrar attended but that seems to be where the priest was not himself legally authorised to carry out marriages. That seems not to be the case here as there is only a certificate, not the registrar in person, while the curate, as a Church of England minister (the ceremony is carried out according to the Rites of the Church of England) would be ex-officio legally authorised.

  • Thanks for a great Answer - I just googled to find that a Superintendent Registrar's Certificate can still be used in conjunction with a church wedding.
    – PolyGeo
    May 30, 2014 at 23:33
  • 1
    Adrian, I think you were correct in pointing out the differences between pre- and post-1837 marriages. From the class handout Non-Conformist church records by Raymon Naisbitt, AG®, research consultant at the Family History Library -- the timeline says: "1837 -- Government birth, marriage, and death records begin. People can marry in their nonconformist chapels so long as a civil registrar is present." Naisbitt also says after 1837 "Nonconformists birth, marriages, and deaths are recorded in both civil registration and in church records."
    – Jan Murphy
    May 6, 2016 at 3:17
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    Naisbitt also said that from 1754 - 1837, everyone had to be married in the CoE except for Quakers and Jews, whose recordkeeping was sufficiently robust to exempt them from the requirement. familysearch.org/wiki/en/images/2/2c/…
    – Jan Murphy
    May 6, 2016 at 3:19
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    In fact they had to be married in a Church of England parish church, @JanMurphy. This accounts for why most chapels stopped doing marriages after 1754 and didn't start again until some time after 1837. Some of the bigger CofE chapels, especially in the bigger towns(?), obtained permission to conduct marriages either in 1754 or later, so there are plenty of exceptions to that rule.
    – AdrianB38
    May 8, 2016 at 12:58
  • Yes, I can't remember who said so, but the towns where people were permitted to marry were the ones that were 'market towns'.
    – Jan Murphy
    May 8, 2016 at 17:10

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