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Meanings of abbreviations in London Parish Register

Meanings of abbreviations in London Parish Register

Posted: 23 Nov 2010 11:24PM GMT
Classification: Query
I've found details in a 17th Century London Parish Register and am not sure what they mean. Here's an example:

Henry Singleton, w., & Mary Roch, w., John Moore.
Will. Good, w., & Joan Fort, s., John Bennet.
Will. Shaw, b., & Margaret Ellford, s., John Mitchell.
Tho. Atwell, b., & Anna Lane, s.. Will. Gumbie.

I know what the shortened names are, but what are the letters 's' 'w' and 'b' meant to mean

Re: Meanings of abbreviations in London Parish Register

Posted: 24 Nov 2010 2:04PM GMT
Classification: Query
Hi,

Is it a marriage register? If so, b = bachelor, s = spinster & w = widow or widower, but I'm not sure who the third name in each entry would refer to in this case, unless it's the priest.

Christine

Re: Meanings of abbreviations in London Parish Register

Posted: 24 Nov 2010 2:22PM GMT
Classification: Query
It is a marriage register. I did think that the 3rd name might be that but were that the case I would expect some names repeated, but they are not. Perhaps it's a witness?

Re: Meanings of abbreviations in London Parish Register

Posted: 24 Nov 2010 2:29PM GMT
Classification: Query
It could be a witness, but really there should be at least two of them. Did you find the entries on Ancestry, or do you have a scan that you could attach? Maybe seeing the original might help.

Christine

Re: Meanings of abbreviations in London Parish Register

Posted: 24 Nov 2010 2:39PM GMT
Classification: Query
It's 15MB...!
But you can see it here - http://www.archive.org/details/londonparishregi02phil

Re: Meanings of abbreviations in London Parish Register

Posted: 24 Nov 2010 2:57PM GMT
Classification: Query
Ah right, OK! Well, I'm having second thoughts about who this third person might be, and as these are 17th century marriages, I'm thinking that he may have been the bondsman for the marriage. I'm having to dredge this up from the depths of memory, so don't treat it as gospel, but I think the bondsman would be called upon to state that there was no lawful reason why the couple may not marry, and that the groom would actually marry the bride and not change his mind at the last minute. If it turned out that this was false, the bondsman would have to pay a quite hefty fine. He would be chosen by the groom, so may quite likely have been a brother or uncle.

Christine

Re: Meanings of abbreviations in London Parish Register

Posted: 24 Nov 2010 3:03PM GMT
Classification: Query
Most interesting - thanks for your help. You will note that some listings don't have a 3rd person, but the just the parish or area. I guess not all couples had a Bondsman?

Re: Meanings of abbreviations in London Parish Register

Posted: 24 Nov 2010 3:18PM GMT
Classification: Query
Hmmm, I see what you mean. It's not totally clear whether it's just the bride who's of the named parish, or both bride and groom, but it's interesting that where a parish is named, there is no third person mentioned. It also seems unusual that it would be the bride who was marrying away from her home parish, as opposed to the groom.

I've seen a lot of early marriage registers but never anything like this, so I'm as curious about it as you are now. The bondsman idea is a theory, at any rate, but not one I'm 100% confident in.

Christine

Re: Meanings of abbreviations in London Parish Register

Posted: 27 Nov 2011 3:59AM GMT
Classification: Query
Chiming in a year later here, curious if you've reached any new conclusions. Coincidentally, I found this thread to decode the exact same register, from St. James. I learned in an article about Penelope Aubin by researcher Debbie Wellen that this church was infamous at the time for performing 'clandestine' marriages. In Penelope Charleton and Abraham Aubin's case, the match was not approved by the bride's mother or biological father (Sir Richard Temple, 3rd Baronet!). However, Henry--the first name only listed at the end--was the name of one of Abraham's brothers, perhaps a witness and/or bondsman as was suggested. Hope this helps solve your mystery, too. Please let me know if you've unravelled any more insight since these posts. Thanks!
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