Marriage Bonds, 1779-1858 - Upper & Lower Canada

The records

Library and Archives Canada holds the following marriage bonds:

  • Upper Canada and Canada West (now Ontario), 1803 to 1845 (RG5-B9, volumes 13 to 44, microfilm C-6777 to C-6791) This series also includes about ten bonds from 1858 to 1861
  • Lower Canada and Canada East (now Quebec), 1779 to 1858 (RG4-B28, volumes 29 to 41A, microfilm H-1129 to H-1132) This series also includes about thirteen bonds from 1860 and 1861

What is a marriage bond?

Couples who were to be married by a clergyman of the Anglican (Church of England) or Roman Catholic Church did not need a licence or a marriage bond. The only requirement was the reading of banns on three consecutive Sundays before the marriage.

A marriage licence was required if the marriage was to be performed by any other clergy or by a justice of the peace, or if the wedding was to take place where the couple were not residents.

To obtain a licence, the bridegroom had to enter into a contract (bond) with the Crown, along with two sureties. They were people who knew him and were prepared to guarantee that no legal impediment existed to prevent the marriage or invalidate it. The amount of the bond (usually 200 pounds) was liable to forfeiture if grounds for invalidating the marriage were later found.

A marriage bond included the following information:

  • Name of the future husband
  • Name of the future wife
  • Their place of residence
  • Names of the sureties
  • Date and place where the bond was issued.

As the marriage bond was usually issued a few days prior to the actual wedding ceremony, it can provide an indication of the approximate date and place of marriage. The actual marriage licence was given to the couple.

The database

This database contains references to 7,899 marriage bonds for Upper Canada / Canada West and 2,960 for Lower Canada / Canada East.

Each bond was consulted to verify the names of the future husband and wife and the date of the bond. Each database entry is in the original language used in the documents. This information was not translated. Most marriage bonds are a one-page printed form in English.

As some of the original documents are difficult to read due to faded ink, some information in the database may be incorrect and/or incomplete.

Search screen

The search screen enables you to search by:

  • Future Husband's Surname
  • Future Husband's Given Name(s)
  • Future Wife's Surname
  • Future Wife's Given Name(s)

Some entries include only an initial for the given names,  so try searching by surname only.

Women are identified by their maiden name, if the maiden name was provided in the marriage bond.

When you have entered your search terms, click on "Submit". The number of results will be shown at the top of the results screen.

How to interpret the results

Your search results will be posted as a results summary list from which you will be able to obtain an item description.

Search results page

The search results page displays the following fields:

  • Item Number
  • Future Husband's Surname
  • Future Husband's Given Name(s)
  • Future Wife's Surname
  • Future Wife's Given Name(s)

Click on the underlined Item Number of a record to access the Item page, which contains additional information specific to that record.

Item page

The item page has digitized images of the actual pages available in JPG format and contains the following fields:

  • Future Husband's Surname
  • Future Husband's Given Name(s)
  • Future Husband's Residence
  • Future Wife's Surname
  • Future Wife's Given Name(s)
  • Future Wife's Residence
  • Notes
  • Volume
  • Bond Number
  • Date
  • Microfilm
  • Reference
  • Item Number: This is not a document number or reference. It is the unique number assigned to each entry within a data set.

To suggest a correction, click on the Suggest a Correction link to access an electronic form.

To return to the Search Results page, click on the Back button of your browser in the upper left corner of your screen.

How to obtain copies

You can save the images on your computer, then print copies.

There are about 23 bonds from 1858 to 1861 that are not on microfilm and not digitized. For those documents, you can order a copy. Include the complete details as they appear in the database entry.

Other resources

 

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