9 September 2009, Vol. 12, No. 9
Table of Contents
Using RootsWeb
Genealogy Tip
Bottomless Mailbag:
Readers Write In
What’s New: Databases, Freepages, and Mailing Lists
The Darkroom
You Found It
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Using RootsWeb

By Mary Harrell-Sesniak
"Genealogy is not just a pastime; it's a passion."

What's in a Marriage Banns?

A marriage banns is a proclamation or publication of an impending marriage.

From the London Truth.
The marriage banns of Mlle. Helen Betty
de Rothschild with Baron Stephen Gustavus
van de Haar were published in Paris last week.
The bride has a fortune of £6,000,000, which
will be greatly increased at the death of her
mother; so she is decidedly a catch for her Bel-
gian bridegroom who has no fortune."
--The New York Times, Aug. 22, 1887

In many parts of the world, it was or still is a legal obligation to announce the intent of a couple to marry. The custom arrived in America during Colonial Times, and although no longer a legal requirement, is still practiced within some religions.

"Marriage License Law Changes Take Effect Aug. 28
Banns No Longer Recognized; Data on Past Marital History Now Required..."
--Toledo Blade, Toledo, Ohio, Aug. 11, 1951

Historic requirements varied by country and region, but the publishing of the banns was typically accomplished by 1) reading them aloud in a church or public venue, 2) printing them in a newspaper, or 3) posting in a public place -- such as on the door to the Mayor's office.

"From the London Answers:
The custom of publishing the banns of marriages dates back to the primitive church, for Tertullian, who died A.D. 240, states that warning of intended marriages was given among the early Christians.
It appears that the publication of banns was habitual in many places long before there was any general law on the subject, since Gregory IV (1195-1216) speaks of the banns being given out in church, according to custom.  The practice was introduced into France about the ninth century, and in 1176 was enforced in the diocese of Paris.
The earliest enactment on the subject in England was an order made in the synod of Westminster in 1300 to the effect that no marriage should be celebrated till the banns had been published in the church on three several Sundays or feast days.  This rule was made obligatory throughout the church by the fourth Lateran council, held in Rome in 1215."
--Duluth News, March 5, 1905

The publishing of the banns gives opportunity for the community to voice objections as to why a marriage should not go forth.

Legitimate grounds vary, but include being under age or without consent (ex. chattel rights), marital status (ex. prior marriage not annulled), too closely related (incestuous or marrying a close cousin), conflicting vows (ex. celibacy), and religious impediments (ex. marrying contrary to discipline or outside one's religion). 

Gothenburg, Sweden, April 7.--A girl
applied at the Norbert sessions yester-
day to have her banns of marriage de-
clared invalid as she had since discov-
ered that her fiance was consumptive.
The man said that if the girl would
not marry him in spite of his affliction
he had no objection to the banns being
--Grand Rapids Press (MI), April 7, 1913
"FORBIDDING THE BANNS. On the third publi-
cation of the banns of marriage at a country church
in England, a buxome [sic] young woman all in her
Sunday trim, arose and said--'Please your hon-
or, reverend sir, I forbid the banns.' 'Why?'
asked the clergyman. 'Because I want him my-
self,' was the reply, 'and I hold in my hand his
written promise of marriage to me.'
--Boston Evening Transcript, May 15, 1847"

If protests were valid, the presiding officiant or official (ex. priest or registrar) was authorized to prohibit the marriage. In some cases, a marriage performed outside of the banns, prohibited one from inheriting property, which was a strong incentive.

So what’s in a marriage banns?  Although not consistent, banns notices can include:

Names of the betrothed
Birth dates
Marital status (ex. spinster, bachelor, widow, widower)
Parentage (ex. daughter of Col. John Smith of Boston)
Residence (ex. parish or town)
Occupation (ex. weaver of London)
Religious affiliation
Notice of consent to marry
Dates of call (publications)
Date of impending nuptials (usually near term / within three months)

After the wedding, a corresponding certificate or register confirms the event and adds the officiant and witnesses. Notices were often in newspapers.

"The Banns of Marriage between William Grimmett of this Parish and Elizabeth Motley of the Parish of Tewkesbury were published on three several Sundays viz: 15, 22 & 29 February 1756"
--Tredington, Gloucestershire Parish Register Transcripts by William Good
Source citation

George (X) Rouse of the Parish of Ashelworth and Elizabeth (X) Good of the same Parish of Ashelworth widow were married in this Church by Banns in the presence of: George (X) Barkesdale & William (X) Barkesdale"
Ashleworth, Gloucestershire Volume 5 - Marriages 1754-1812
Source citation
Note: The (X) in the notice indicates a signature, possibly by a mark.

To view more from the RootsWeb community, follow parish register links at,

Deerhurst, Forthampton & Eldersfield

Donegal Genealogy Resources

The Parish of Staplehurst in County Kent

Additional Resource: Glossary of Genealogical Terms

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Genealogy Tip

By Mary Harrell-Sesniak
"Genealogy is not just a pastime; it's a passion."

Finding and Citing Genealogical References

So you finally finished your family history, and realize, oops, you were remiss in specifying sources.

Perhaps you used shortcuts such as citing a book with just a summary of the title, History of Fairfield Co., Ohio, instead of History of Fairfield County, Ohio and representative citizens. And most likely, if you did this, you also require the author and publishing data.

What should you do?

An easy solution is to search a library catalog.  It doesn't have to be local – since larger ones have more resources. Here are some favorites:

You can also use Google Books to locate publication data.  Or you could utilize WorldCat – a catalog website which locates resources in participating libraries, and also formats citations. You'll need to register, but it is free.

After searching, select the Cite/Export option at the upper right, and when the resulting window opens, select your desired style from APA, Chicago, Harvard, MLA or Turabian. Or, if you prefer, export the citation to RefWorks or an EndNote.

Make sure to add your favorite library catalog and WorldCat to your browser favorites.

Another tip for bibliophiles who love owning rare genealogy books is to set up a favorite search in online auction sites, but you can also locate them using a book bot (an automated Web robot). Bots, such as Alibris or Bookfinder, search a variety of other book sites and locate the best deals!

Additional Resources
RootsWeb Guide: Creating Worthwhile Genealogies for our Families and Descendants

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Multiple Online Cousins Found

My connecting story involves several of my lines.  I had a friend who was "into genealogy" and was showing me his research.  He showed me how to use the online resources, and I made a post about my dad's family stories.  Someone reading the post (one of my dad's second cousins) told me the names were familiar but the story was wrong.  From that, I ended up with quite a bit more information on my HUSKINS lines.  Not only that, he sent me photos of my father's grandfather as well as great grandparents!  Over the years my tree has become so big I can't even tape it to the wall, thanks to wonderful people who share information online with Rootsweb.  I've found online cousins who've helped me research some lines.  As I have continued to search online message boards, I have found several more nice gentlemen who have also helped me.  They have also sent me photos of long lost ancestors and relatives!  I love my online cousins!

name withheld
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Bottomless Mailbag: Readers Write In
Duplicates in Census Research

Don’t dismiss any duplicate findings within any census year without researching.  I have found on at least 3 occasions of an early or mid teen living within another household other than his parents.  The first one I came across the surname was different which drove me crazy for a couple of weeks.  All of the persons information was dead on except for the surname.  At first I had thought the parents had died until I located them in a neighboring county with the child.  When I looked into the family that he was living with I found that the wife was the sister of the mother and the time of the census was late summer.  The child was probably on a summer jaunt with the aunt and uncle but was also listed with the parents.  The others were the same situation but with the uncle being the blood kin.  Don’t dismiss any possible findings without researching those included in the family unit, could be a lost relative of the parents.

Pat Bowen

A Monumental Task

After reading Funeral Home Records Can HelpRootsweb Review, 12 August 2009, Vol.12, No.8. I was reminded of a local cemetery employee who is attempting to add as many obituaries to the cemetery's database as she can find, either from newspaper archives or online data. Quite a task, considering there are 35,000 people buried in this cemetery which dates to 1855!  This will be a treasure trove of information for genealogists!  

Anonymous in Virginia

Avoid the Needless Loss of Family Treasures

How often do priceless family treasures end up on the trash heap or selling for fifty cents at a yard sale, all because none of the younger generation knew the beautiful family stories associated with them?  A grand parent dies and the youngsters come in to clean out the house.  Who could have known that the lamp had been a fiftieth wedding anniversary gift from a great-grandmother, or that the inexpensive looking bric-a-brac had been a treasured wedding gift, lovingly carried from one residence to another for the past eighty years?  Who would have guessed that grandmother remembered the day in 1923 when her father brought home the Alcoa Aluminum pot with lid, as a gift for her mother, and the special meals her mother had prepared in it when she was a little girl - it was just another pot the kids found in the kitchen cabinet.

In this age of computers and digital cameras, such heartbreaking stories are insanely unnecessary.  While there is still time:

1.  Ask older members of your family if they have items that are special to them.  Find out why they are special, (make notes).  Who bought them?  Where?  Who has owned them?  When and how did you come to have them?  If possible, go from room to room, jogging memory by asking whether there are such items.

2.  Open a "Family Inventory" file in your computer, with sub-folders for father and mother's side of the family.

3.  Create a page to display a photo of each item and the story of its family history.

4.  Include a line specifying who you wish the item to go to upon your demise, and make sure that both the owner and designee receive a copy of the page.

For the sake of your family's children for generations to come, don't allow your parents and grand parents to take their memories of treasured items into eternity with them
Rev. Charles Stanley, Retired

Have a story, question, genealogy resource, or tip you'd like to share with RootsWeb Review readers? Send it to Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com.

Editor's note: The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the editor or of RootsWeb.com.

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What's New: Databases, Freepages, and Mailing Lists
New User-contributed Databases at RootsWeb


PENNSYLVANIA. Trinity Lutheran Cemetery South Philadelphia, 1667 records; Jane McKnight

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New/Updated Freepages by Individuals

My Wisdom Family now contains narratives, family groups, and source information for six generations of my Wisdom family.

Barnhill Families of Pender County, NC and their Connections has been updated with family photos, census info, family life, obits, updated photos of churches, old mansion, train depot history, cemetery headstones and many records.  The major surnames covered include Barnhill, Henry, Horrell, Sherman, Wallace, and Woodcock families of Pender County, NC and their connections to families in New Hanover and Bladen Counties going back to the late 1700's. 

Monuments in Kintail & Lockalsh, contains pictures and transcripts of the inscriptions of grave stones for Kintail and Lochalsh Parishes in Ross-shire Scotland.  Predominant surnames include Macrae, Mackenzie, Maclennan, Matheson, and Fraser.

Genealogy of the Cushing Family is an account of the Ancestors and Descendants of Matthew Cushing, who came to America in 1638.  The site has been completely revised and updated.  It identifies the Cushing families of England and Ireland who emigrated to Canada and the United States, including the descendants of Maurice Cushing of County Kerry, Ireland, and of Edward Cushing of County Cork, Ireland, and of Pierre Courchesne of Paris, France.

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DAC = Daughters of the American Colonists
DAR = Daughters of the American Revolution
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USD 1812 = United States Daughters of 1812
USGW = United States GenWeb Project


  • akusd — Alaska State Society USD 1812
  • azgpcscv — Granville Oury Chapter 1708 (AZ) Sons of Confederate Veterans
  • azjrbudc — John R. Baylor Chapter 2298 (AZ) UDC
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  • coahs — Arvada Historical Society (Jefferson Co., CO)
  • flwwdar — Winding Waters Chapter (FL) DAR
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  • nssda — National Society Southern Dames of America
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  • padac — Pennsylvania DAC
  • pafldar — Fort Ligonier Chapter (PA) DAR
  • pagjwdar — General Joseph Warren Chapter (PA) DAR
  • pagmdar — Great Meadows Chapter (PA) DAR
  • papssaw — Pennsylvania Soldiers of the Spanish-American War 1898
  • pawkdar — William Kenly Chapter (PA) DAR
  • scelpdar — Eliza Lucas Pinckney Chapter (SC) DAR
  • scngdar — Nathanael Greene Chapter (SC) DAR
  • sdfaulk2 — Faulk County (SD) Seneca People and Places
  • txhghs — Huntington Genealogical & Historical Society (East Texas)
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  • wamtcdar — Michael Trebert Chapter (WA) DAR
  • warcdar — Rainier Chapter (WA) DAR


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  • irlngsm — North Galway & South Mayo (Ireland) Stories
  • mexjedar — John Edwards Chapter (Mexico) DAR
  • nirbvphm — Bann Valley Pre-History Museum (Northern Ireland)
  • zafsaaf — History of the Central Photographic Establishment (South African Air Force)

Some of these Web pages might not be accessible yet. They are created by volunteers, so if one that interests you isn't up yet, please check again in a few days or next week.

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To find or subscribe to a mailing list, or to search archived posts to more than 30,000 RootsWeb-hosted genealogy mailing lists, go here.

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The Darkroom
This is my 2ggrandmother, Elizabeth "Bettie" HILL FRANCIS, who was born in June, 1840 in Tennessee. She was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian. This picture was taken sometime around 1860. Bettie was married to Augustus "Anthony" FRANCIS, a frenchman in Pine Bluff, Arkansas in 1871. Bettie died Feb 15, 1903. When Bettie died, her son, Eugene Anthony FRANCIS, wanted to have his mother buried at the local cemetery but the people in charge wouldn't allow it since she was a Cherokee Indian! Eugene had her buried at Dixon Cemetery, Timpson, Shelby County, Texas, a few miles from where Bettie had lived.

Troyce Hendricks of Minden, Louisiana

For a chance to see your ancestor's photo in the RootsWeb Review, send it to Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com. Make sure to include your name and a brief description of the photograph.

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You Found It
Salad Basics

Years ago I was transcribing records for the LDS Church. I came upon a name that had me giggling. I wondered what was in the minds of her parents when they named her. Of course she was born in the mid 1700’s. Her name was “Lettuce Head”.

Thanks to Kathy Johnson
A Reluctant Father

I was combing 19th century Yorkshire Parish Records and Bishops' Transcripts for my Dawson ancestors a few years ago.  In the margin of a Bishops’ Transcript listing out-of-wedlock births, someone had added the father’s name with the following notation:  "He says he isn't, but he is!" (That's an exact quote, including the exclamation point.  I was so startled by it, that I've had no trouble recalling it over the last 6-7 years!)  

Thanks to Linda Dawson in southern California
Bedtime Stories Continued

Some years ago I met at church a lady called Mrs Chambers but she told me her maiden name was Gotobed.  So Miss Gotobed married Mr Chambers.     

Thanks to Beth Skepper in Loughborough, Leicestershire
Another Bedtime Story

Three Gotobeds that I like are the questioning, May Gertrude Gotobed, born 1877 and the echoed reply of, Gertrude May Gotobed, born 1900 and 1905.

Thanks to John Court

Found a funny name or humorous tidbit in old records, or an amusing entry in census, parish, church, or other records? Send these and other genealogy-related humor/humour items to Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com.

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