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marriage records: "of full age", witnesses

marriage records: "of full age", witnesses

Bernie Cullen (View posts)
Posted: 1158432021000
Classification: Query
I have a couple questions about marriages I have found in microfilms of the record volumes.

Most of the time, a specific age is given for the bride and groom. Occasionally, it just says "of age" or "of full age".

Does "of full age" signify an older bride/groom, someone past 30 or 40 say? A widow, Mary McGinley McGirr, was listed as "of full age" "holding a farm" when she married Patrick Cullion (also of full age). I think she died two years later at age 45.

Can anything be learned from the names of the witnesses? I don't see any rigid pattern, but often there is a male with the same surname as the groom, and a female, sometimes with the same surname as the bride. These are brothers and sisters probably? Is it more likely for an older brother/sister or younger to be a witness? Single or married witness? These people were Roman Catholics in County Tyrone in the 1864-1870 period.

I realize that it's probably to make any hard and fast rules about these things, but perhaps there is a custom that I don't know about.


Re: marriage records: "of full age", witnesses

Posted: 1158676648000
I've come across the "full age" thing on marriage certs too. In one case, it said "full" for the woman and from a later census, I was able to work out that she was 17/18 when she married. I wonder does it mean "of age", as in old enough to get married. People would have been more private and possibly used "full" as a way of not saying their age.

Re: marriage records: "of full age", witnesses

Posted: 1159729612000
Classification: Query
Of (full) age meant the person was no longer considered a minor. I believe the age for becoming an adult was 18. If someone was younger than that, he/she would need parental consent to marry.

I don't know of any rules for witnesses. I believe sometimes they weren't even related, but close friends. I have heard that you will sometimes come across engaged couples for witnesses, but I don't know how common that was.

Re: marriage records: "of full age", witnesses

wendy thompson (View posts)
Posted: 1161796238000
Classification: Query
Hi there...

Full age on marriage entries from the 1800's means over the age of well, I have found alot of times the witness's to be siblings, cousins, friends....I have quite a few marriage entries from the 1800's where the witness's are sister to the bride, brother to the groom and the like.....The witness's are definitely worth looking at. Hope that helps.

All the best

Re: marriage records: "of full age", witnesses

Posted: 1161804935000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1343268332000
I have to comment because I have a marriage from 1872 in County Kerry where the bride & groom were listed as "full age" -- they were both aged 18. Perhaps it depended on the region.

[Follow up note regarding further comments about age calculated from US Census -- among several non-census records confirming age, I have the groom's baptism in Ireland from 1853.]

Re: marriage records: "of full age", witnesses

Wendy Thompson (View posts)
Posted: 1161870870000
Classification: Query
the region could make a difference....most of mine were from Northern Ireland....and any of the marriages I have where they are under 21 (which says full age) has the actual age listed...for instance my grt grt grandfather is listed as full age, he was 46 and his wife is listed as 20yrs....

Re: marriage records: "of full age", witnesses

Posted: 1169596587000
Classification: Query
Of full age was/is over 21 legally in Ireland then and now. And that's the 32 counties on the island.

If you calculated an age of 18 back from a US census record, US census records are well known for the variations in the ages of those listed. The same person can have a wide variety of ages in many years of the US census records.

Re: marriage records: "of full age", witnesses

Posted: 1247267644000
Classification: Query
Surnames: thomson
Are you still there? I also may have Thomsons in Derry Co.

Contact me.

Jeff Thomson
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