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21 March 2014

License Does Not Equal Marriage

Not everyone who took out a marriage license got married. It is possible that the couple had a change of heart and didn't follow through with a ceremony. The license may never have been returned or there could be a notice on the application or record that it was cancelled. People do change their minds.


  1. My husband's grandfather and grandmother, John Joseph Scannell and Julia Fay Hopkins, were issued a marriage license in July, 1890 at Fort Davis, Jeff Davis County, Texas. I have a photocopy of the license showing the original was never filled in by any officiating person or returned for filing. I have a photocopy of a second license issued to the same to people, in the same place, exactly one year later. This one was completed and returned for filing. In discussing this with other family members, the story is told that Julia Fay's mother, Ellen Jane (Brady) Hopkins, did not like the young soldier at Fort Davis and thought her daughter could do better. She packed up her daughter and the rest of the family and moved to Sherman, Texas in hopes Julia Fay would forget about "that scoundrel". Her efforts were in vain and the couple married in Fort Davis on 21 Jul 1891. The marriage endured 44 years until John Joseph's death 31 Mar 1935.

  2. My grandparents married 21 March 1900, but there was no return in the marriage book at the courthouse by the minister.. On 23 October 1903, the clerk filled in the return giving the name of the minister who had passed away in 1902. One explanation for the delay could have been the fact that my grandfather forgot to pay the minister. Some time later, he discovered the envelope with the money in his wedding coat!
    I've seen numerous instances of no returns for people who were obviously married (or assumed such) particularly when they lived some distance from the country seat.