Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Early Protestants in Early Canada? Check the Marriage Bonds 1779 - 1858, Upper & Lower Canada

Library and Archives Canada
I am working very hard at balancing life and my "planned genealogy tasks" these days. But one find is leading to another and now yet another. Last year was a busy year and it appears I may have missed seeing/hearing of a third digitized collection for Canada.

So I took a small pause from working on/updating what is currently in my genealogy program to share yet another discovery.

Over at the Library and Archives of Canada in the Genealogy and Family History area, there are quite a few digitized collections. Under the Births, Marriages and Deaths category is a collection entitled, Marriage Bonds, 1779-1865 - Upper and Lower Canada.

Now I don't know exactly when this collection was added to LAC but the Marriage Bond page was last updated in February 2015. I don't remember if this collection was there at the time I discovered the Upper Canada Land Petitions in 2011/2012 or not. I did do a little search test and it appears these bonds are not over at or at any of its variations. They also do not appear online at the website.

So what is a Marriage Bond? It's like an intention to marry or "official engagement." According to the LAC's record description for the collection, "The groom was required to enter into a bond with one or two people (sureties) who knew him and who were prepared to guarantee to the Crown that there was no legal impediment to the marriage. After obtaining the bond, a license was issued and the marriage took place a few days later."

In this case, these marriage bonds were prepared only for Protestant marriages by license.

So if you have ancestors in early Canada who were Protestant (or married Protestant) and you have not found them in the records of a church or pastor, you might want to search this collection.

On a bond you will find the names of the future husband and future wife and their place(s) of residence; the names of those acting as sureties; and the date and place where the bond was issue. (Often those acting as sureties were related to either the future husband or future wife.) Now remember marriage bonds were usually issued a few days prior to the actual ceremony, so the date on the bond is not the date of the actual marriage -- the marriage date was soon after the bond date.

These marriage bonds for Protestants are important because marriage licenses issued before 1867 were not retained by the government. This digitized collection is made up of bonds from two collections:

  • 7,899 marriage bonds for Upper Canada (Ontario) issued between 1803 and 1865 -- RG 5 B9 (MIKAN 125556)
  • 2,960 marriage bonds for Lower Canada (Quebec) issued between 1779 and 1858 -- RG 4 B28 (MIKAN 125694)

Here are some of my tips for the Marriage Bonds collection. Unlike other LAC digitized collections, these digital images are linked to your search results. Instead of searching a separate page with the digitized microfilm, here you simply click on the link to see the image desired.

Results Husband Search
Library and Archives Canada
Search Future Husband Surname
Library and Archives Canada

There are separate search filters for "future husband" and "future wife." So to do a complete, thorough surname search you have to search for your surname at least twice, once using "Future Husband's Surname" and once using "Future Wife's Surname." (Now if your surname has a lot of variations you will have to search those variations also. As far as wildcards, it looks like the multiple character (*) is supported at the end of a name. The single character (?) in the middle of a name did not work for me.)

Search Future Wife Surname
Library and Archives Canada
Results Wife Search
Library and Archives Canada

After getting your search results, to see an image simply click on the "item number" link for the result you want to investigate.

Item Page - Second Image
Library and Archives Canada
Item Page - First Image
Library and Archives Canada

At the Item page you will see there are two images (front and back) of the bond; some information abstracted from the bond; and details of the microfilm collection from which the bond was digitized.

Though you can scroll the image larger on this page, if you click on the image you can get a larger view. BUT to see the second image you need to go back to this initial Item page and click on the "2."

Enlarged Image
Library and Archives Canada
If you want to download the bond images, do so from the Item page where you will download via right-click a jpeg (jpg) of the image. If you try to download via right-click the image from the larger view, it only lets you download a png image. In this case, the jpg would likely work best.

In comparison to some other digital collections on LAC, these images of the Marriage Bonds appear to not be scanned as well. You simply can not enlarge the images, those online or downloaded, very much before the image goes "diggy."

Detail from Marriage Bond of Enoch F. Dunham
and Anne Chamberlain 15 June 1830 , Library and Archives Canada
RG 5 B9, vol. 19, number 4486 
I did not find any relatives in this particular collection which was a little disappointing. The Enoch F. Dunham that appears in these example images is from another Dunham line, Rev. Darius Dunham.

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