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Banns of marriage are an ancient legal tradition, where a couple’s intention to marry would be publically announced at their parish church. The reading of the banns provided an opportunity for anybody to put forward a legal or religious objection to the marriage taking place. Banns had to be read on three Sundays in the three months before the wedding, unless the couple were to be married by licence. It is important to note that banns only state an intention to marry; the posting of the banns doesn’t necessarily mean the marriage took place.

There are 87,988 banns records from 111 parishes in the Staffordshire Collection. Banns normally list the full names of the bride and groom, their places of residence, the date of banns and the date of marriage.

Some records also include the couple’s previous marital status, the name of the officiating minister and the dates of the three Sundays on which the banns were read.