The bonds that tie

 Marriage bonds are valuable genealogical resources

When I was a kid, getting dressed for special occasions really wasn't much fun. Mum would get us ready and park us on one of the kitchen chairs to wait and wait until it was time to go.

On Aunt Ethel's wedding day, Mum had dressed me in a new pink dress that tied in the back and of course a big pink bow in my hair. Cliff wore a two-piece white suit with a bow tie. The youth of today, would say it was a blazer and shorts. Mum was really under pressure as she was having the wedding supper at our house.

Since I was older than Cliff, I was expected to look after him. He was always a good little fellow and as usual sat quietly on a kitchen chair, playing with a set of letter blocks.

The appearance of my kitten Daffy took my attention. She would go round and round the chair, attempting to catch the end of the string that I held in my hand, but the end was always out of her reach.

When Dad called for all of us to load into the car for the trip to the wedding, I jumped up and dashed out the door.

"Where is Cliffy?" he asked.

I just shook my head and shrugged my shoulders.

Mum found him in the back porch with a paint brush and a can of green paint, busily painting his little chair. Luckily not a drop of paint was spilled on his clothes, but all the way to the wedding we could smell the turpentine that was used to clean up his little green hands.

Wedding invitations usually include an RSVP card. In years gone by, some grooms had to give assurance that they were going to be in attendance.

From 1810 until 1932, marriage bonds were required when banns were not read or when the clergyman did not know both of the parties. The bond guaranteed a payment of 500 pounds from the would-be-groom or his co-signer if the proposed marriage did not take place.

These bonds are especially valuable to genealogists since they provide the names and residences of the proposed groom and the co-signer in addition to that of the bride-to-be.

Locating a marriage bond is not proof of a marriage. It really is evidence of an "engagement."

The names of about 27,000 brides and grooms are in the index to marriage bonds as well as the names of the co-signers. Some co-signers appear several times, probably because they were professional bonders collecting fees for their services.

It is interesting to note that 1,140 individuals gave their residence as Maine and 184 stated Massachusetts.

Actually, nearly 2,400 non-New Brunswick references are listed. There are 18,985 individuals with connections to Saint John County and 4,689 for Kings County.

The marriage bonds are on microfilm at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick in Fredericton.

All marriages may not have been made in heaven, but the genealogical information they hold, can make the family researcher think he is in seventh heaven.

August 10, 2000:  An Index to Marriage Bonds 1810 -1932 has been placed on the PANB (Provincial Archives of New Brunswick) site at

Query 98-452
Lindsay - Wisely: Sarah Lindsay was born Aug. 22, 1808, in Aghanloo Parish, County Derry (near Limavady), Ireland. She married Peter Wisely on Feb.13, 1828. We have two stories about Sarah and Peter's (my wife's great-great-grandparents) travel to America. One is that they went directly to Pennsylvania, the other that they went first to Saint John, N.B., and after a short time went to Pennsylvania. Their first child, Mary Catherine, was born in Mar. 31, 1829. A son, James or John, was born Aug. 15, 1831 in Franklin Co., Pennsylvania. There is a son Robert who may have been born on the way to America or about 1839 in the United States. Sarah Lindsay Wisely was a devout member of the Reformed Presbyterian Church (Covenanter) both before and after her marriage. The obituary of Sarah Lindsay Wisely, written by her son Renwick Kirkpatrick Wisely, states: "In 1831, she, with her family, parents and other friends sailed for America . . . After spending one year in St. John, N.B., she came to Pennsylvania where she lived until 1839, when she came to Illinois." We wish to determine if she did in fact come to the United States by way of Saint John. We have learned that a Reverend Alexander Clarke formed a Covenanter Society in the 1828 to 1831 time frame in or around Saint John. We have also learned from the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America that a church called "Shemogue" was organized Oct. 18, 1828, in the Saint John area and seceded April 21, 1848, when it became a member of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian church. We do not know if the Shemogue church was the same entity as Reverend Clarke's Covenanter Society. In sum, is there anyone with information or help that could be provided about Sarah Lindsay Wisely's residence or passage through Saint John circa 1828 to 1831, or information about the Reformed Presbyterian or Covenanter Church in Saint John in that period?
- Donald Dickason and Janet Wisely Dickason, 64 Mason Dr., Princeton, NJ, 08540. Telephone (609) 683-4066. E-mail

Query 98-453
Lyman - McGivery: I am searching for descendants of Oliver Lyman, born in Tusket, Nova Scotia, in 1788. He was married twice and had 10 children by the two wives. Children's names were Henry, Oliver, Eliza Ann Lyman Doherty, Georgia Lyman Taylor. His second wife, Ellen McGivery, was born in Ireland and they were possibly married in Saint John, as her children were born there. They were Amelia Lyman Grimes, Joseph A., Ann Lyman Ball, James Peter, Emma and MacIntyre. Joseph A. had several sons, three of whom I know of ­ A. Herbert Lyman, born in Mispec, N.B., in 1874 or 1875, Joseph Oliver Lyman, born in Saint John, and Horace Guy Lyman, born in 1884 in Mispec. James Peter married Mary Ann Ball Brown on Oct 30, year unknown. They had two children, Lewis (Louis) James Lyman, born in Saint John on June 17, 1880, and Lizzie Lyman, born on April 17, 1882, and died Oct. 2, 1884. She is probably buried in Saint John. If you have any information on this Lyman family, please contact me.
- Pat McConnell. E-mail to

Ruby Cusack is a genealogy buff living in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Readers are invited to send their New Brunswick genealogical queries to Ruby at When E-Mailing please put Yesteryear Families in the Subject line. Please include in the query, your name and postal address as someone reading the newspaper, may have information to share with you but not have access to E-mail. Queries should be no more than 45 words in length.

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