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Hardwick's Marriage Act of 1753 confirmed ecclesiatical law by requiring that all marriages after 25 March 1754 (except for Quakers and Jews) had to follow banns or be authorised by a licence. Marriage licences avoided the calling of banns over the three weeks before a wedding could take place. Perhaps the couple needed to marry quickly because the bride was pregnant or because the groom was going abroad. Most people were married by banns because licences cost more money than banns. However, for those who could afford it, marriage licences could be a status symbol.

'Common' marriage licences named one or two places parishes where the marriage could take place, since the church required the marriage to take place in the parish in which one of the couple lived - or at least was their 'usual abode' for at least the previous four weeks (fifteen days after 1823). Common marriage licences could be issued by archbishops, bishops, some archdeacons, ministers in some parishes or by their 'surrogates'.

Marriage licence jurisdictions are similar to probate jurisdictions e.g. an Archdeaconry, and allowed the couple to marry in any parish in that jurisdiction.

Most marriage licences were lost as they were only given to the couple being married. However, one of the couple had to make a sworn statement ('allegation') that there was no imprediment to the marriage at the appropriate registry. Bonds may also have been submitted that were assurances by a couple's friends or relatives of the accuracy of the information and stated the amount of money by which they were bound. Bonds and allegations were recorded by the registrar and often survived.
Ancestral Trails, Mark D Herber (1997)

Below are links to Sterry marriage licences.