Hampshire Genealogical Society

Free article and Index – Fleet Marriages

Many of the records of the Fleet marriages have been lost, but an article on clandestine marriages was published in the November 1984 HGS journal. Following this HGS member and our ‘Strays Co-ordinator’ at the time, Alan McGowan, then searched the surviving records held in the TNA (Ref: PRO RG7 series, Fleet Marriages 1699-1754, with two further registers in PROB 18/50) and extracted those with a Hampshire interest, which was published in the HGS journal Aug 1985, Vol XII, No 2, p77. This list can be seen below and also in our Research Centre

Fleet Marriages

In England and Wales it was against church (canon) law for marriages to be conducted anywhere other than in an Anglican church after the reading of Banns for 3 weeks or by Licence. However marriages without Banns or Licence did take place, with a simple affirmation by the couple in front of witnesses (usually two). These marriages were technically known as clandestine and although not subject to the checks required by the church authorities they were nevertheless recognised in common law.

Most of these clandestine marriages took place in the Fleet Prison, London, which was mainly a debtors’ and bankrupts’ prison. Some of the prisoners lived in the surrounding area, but were subject to the ‘Rules of the Fleet’, i.e. they could take lodgings within the area of the ‘Liberty of the Fleet’. Some of the imprisoned clergymen would marry anyone for a fee and clandestine marriages would take place in the prison chapel (until 1711) but also at inns and various other places within the area.

The introduction of the ‘Act for the Better Preventing of Clandestine Marriages’ came into force on 25 March 1754 effectively ended clandestine marriages. It is popularly known as ‘Hardwick’s Marriage Act’ and was named after the Lord Chancellor of the Day, the first Earl of Hardwicke. All marriages had now to take place in the Church of England (except Quaker or Jewish marriages) and the records had to be kept in a separate marriage register.

Chris Pavey

HGS Research Centre

SurnameFirst NameDetailsSurnameFirst NameDetailsDatePRO RG 7
AndrewsSarahsp of Wadhurst Sussex (m)SmithWilliambach of Freshwater Hants husbandman15 Jan 1753268 p57
BakerWilliambach of Horsham bricklayer (m)HuchinsSusannawid of Portsmouth23 Jun 172462 p110v & 67 p113v
BrittianJamesbach of Ringwood Hants Weaver (m)HarrisElizabethsp of St Leonards Surrey21 Jun 1730101 p57
BucharAnnsp of Chailey Sussex (m)ViceGeorgebach of Odiam Hants Labourer27 Dec ….262 p45v
CarsomDanielbach of Farnborough husbandman (m)CornishJanesp of Sheering Essex25 4ug 172362 p95v
CornishJanesp of Sheering Essex (m)CarsomDanielbach of Farnborough husbandman24 Aug 177262 p95v
HarmstrongTheodosiasp of Plexton KentWhite Thomasbach of Rogut (sic) (Rogate of Sussex?)18 Sep 1743202 p97v
HarrisElizabethsp of St Leonards Surrey (m)BrittianJamesbach of Ringwood Hants Weaver21 Jun 1730101 p57
HeridgeJohnwid of St Mary Southampton Husbandman (m)VereJanesp of Otford Kent29 Sep 1738142 p103
Hills Winifredsp of Rootham (Wrotham) Kent (m)MilbournJosephbach of Newham Hants Papermaker25 Nov 1752268 p57
HutchinsSusannawid of Portsmouth (m)BakerWilliambach of Horsham bricklayer23 Jun 172462 p110v & 67 p113v
KimballJohannasp of New Town Hants (m)TurnerWilliambach of Seven Oaks labourer 04 Sep 172467 p114
MilbournJosephbach of Newham Hants Papermaker (m)HillsWinnifredsp of Rootham (Wrotham?) Kent25 Nov 1752268 p57
Naisl (sic)Margaretof Cleverton Hants (this could refer to Cleverton Wilts or Claverton Somerset) (m)Roberts Johnof Horsham Surrey (sic)31 Jul 1737164 p14v
RobertsJohnof Horsham Surrey (sic) (m)Naisl (sic)Margaret of Cleverton Hants (this could refer to Cleverton Wilts or Claverton Somerset)31 Jul 1737164 p14v
SharpWilliambach of Ringwood Hants Chapman (m)LunnMarysp of Linesfield Surrey02 Apr 173618 p118v
Smith Williambach of Freshwater Hants husbandman (m)AndrewsSarahsp of Wadhurst Sussex15 Jan 1753268 p57
SunnMarysp of Linesfield Surrey (m)SharpWilliambach of Ringwood Hants Weaver02 Apr 173618 p118v
TurnerWilliambach of Seven Oaks labourer (m)KimballJohannasp of New Town Hants04 Sep 172467 p114
VereJanesp of Otford Kent (m)HeridgeJohnwid of St Mary Southampton Husbandman29 Sep 1738142 p103
ViceGeorgebach of Odiam Hants Labourer (m)BucharAnnsp of Chailey Susses27 Dec ….262 p45v
WhiteThomasbach of Rogut (sic) (Rogate Sussex?) (m)HarmstrongTheodosiasp of Plexton Kent18 Sep 1743202 p97v

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