What do the terms irregular and clandestine represent?
Because clandestine and irregular marriages were so common, there were a number of centres that were popular. Apart from Fleet prison chapel, clandestine marriages were performed at the Tower of London chapel for the early 1600's. To put this all in perspective, from around 1665 to when the Marriage Act occurred putting an end to it in 1754, over 200.000 marriages took place, as irregular or clandestine.
Sadly, the two other major centres apart from Fleet Chapel, including St. James Dukes Place and Holy Trinity Minories, many of their registers are missing. However, the East London Family History Centre does have an index for Holy Trinity from 1676 to 1754, and a published works by Phillimore has 1664 to 1837 for St James Dukes Place.
The Guildhall library in London plus the London Metropolitan Archives holds the surviving registers of the following chapels involved in these favoured and accepted marriages: St. James Dukes Place; St. Dunstan Stepney; St. Gregory by St. Paul; St. Benets Wharf; St. Pancras; St. Ktharine by the Tower; St. Botolph Aldgate; and St. Mary Magdalen.
The Mayfair Chapel has it registers--the surviving ones, in printed form by the Harleian Society. This chapel performed hundreds of marriages; and the reverend, though, found himself then an inmate of Fleet prison.
So if you have an ancestor who you just cant find via the use of the IGI and other sources, it may well be he or she had taken the easier route of irregular or clandestine. It will, however, be not much consolation to know that finding these pre-1754 marriage will not be that easy, purely by the fact by the fact that so many registers and notebooks just have not survived. But it is one more place to look.
Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2006.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.
*Effective May 2010, GenWeekly articles that are more than five years old no longer require a subscription for full access.
Would you like to browse through our collection of GenWeekly articles written exclusively for Genealogy Today? Yes, take me there Would you like to keep up-to-date with the latest releases from Genealogy Today, along with news from a variety of other sources by receiving The Genealogy News (a FREE service) by email? Yes, sign me up Would you like to become a Genealogy Today member and be able to manage your research experience, post messages to forums, add comments to resources and much more? Yes, show me how Would you like to tap into our community of over 85,000 members by posting a query and get assistance breaking down your most difficult brickwalls? Yes, show me how Would you like to go shopping in a marketplace of over 700 items, including charts, scrapbooking materials, books and a variety of unique gifts and supplies? Yes, take me there