Marriages on the sly…


In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries many couples ventured to Scotland to get married.  Why?  Of course to avoid the confines of Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act of 1753!  

We are excited to let you know that last week we released one of the oldest and largest of the Gretna Green marriage registers - and one of the shortest lived projects ever. (I think keying took about two weeks.)  The Lang register – kept by self proclaimed and prolific ‘priests’, father and son David and Simon Lang - records over half of all Gretna Green couples.

Those of you who keyed on this project know that some of the papers we were keying from looked like notes that had been thrown in the garbage, and there was not a lot of care taken to make sure these records were legible.  It took our team close to 6 months to work with the records to get them to a point at which they could be scanned and read, and only weeks for the community to key the records. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this project!

To read more about the project and to search the records you can click here, Gretna Green, Marriage Registers, 1795-1895

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It was my second ‘project’ in the World Archives after the criminal records, and it was very interesting to discover just how many ‘crossed the border’ to get married, including the occasional ‘Honorable’ marrying the parlourmaid. Having passed the Smithy many times, it was nice to put some flesh on the bones of what has now become a rather commercial activity. Thanks a lot, and more interesting UK origin material to key – you will have my interest.