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Monday, 6 August 2018

Henry & Elizabeth Danson's Marriage Bond, 1786: 52 Ancestors

" Oldest" is Week 31's theme in Amy Johnson Crows's year long prompt "52 Ancesgtors in 52 Weeks".  I have already written in this series  about my longest living ancestor, my G.G.G.G. Grandfather John Danson (1736-1821), so here I am featuring the Oldest Document in my collection  - the 1786 Marriage Bond of my GGG Grandfather Henry Danson and Elizabeth Brown.  

Henry and Elizabeth  married 29th October 1786 at St.Chad's Church, Poulton-le-Fykde Lancashire, as recorded in the Poulton Parish Register, with one of the  witnesses Nelly Brown - Elizabeth's sister perhaps? 

The marriage  entry in Register of St. Chad's Church, Poulton, 1786

St. Chad's Church, Poulton

I was  lucky enough to trace the  marriage bond at Lancashire Record Office The Bond  was a promise between two people, normally the groom and a friend or relative (in this case Henry's brother-in-law John Brining) that,  if the marriage proved invalid in the eye of the law,  they would pay a penalty to the church of a substantial sum of money - in this case £200.

The marriage bond (above)  reads: 

Know all men by these present that we, Henry Danson and John Brining of the parish of Poulton, County of Lancashire, are held and firmly bound by….two hundred pounds of good and lawful money of Great Britain, sealed with our seals, dated twenty eighth day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty six….there shall not hereafter appear any lawful let of impediment by reason of precontract, consanguinity, affinity or any just cause but that Henry Danson, husbandman aged 19 years and Elizabeth Brown….aged 20 years, with the consent of John Danson and William Brown, their fathers…….” 

So the marriage bond was dated a day before the actual wedding. Marriage licences could be obtained in this way, as an alternative to having the banns read.  They enabled marriages to take place at any time and were useful  if the marriage had to take place quickly or be kept quiet for some reason.   

Henry and Elizabeth's first born child, daughter Margaret was born 7 months after the wedding - was that the reason for a hasty ceremony? 

Obtaining the marriage licence was always a more expensive way of ensuring the legality of a marriage and never as popular as Banns.  That Henry could afford this form  seems to suggest that the family was relatively well off.

The Bond  also had value in confirming the names of the fathers of Henry and Elizabeth. 


 In the years 1787-1811  eight  children were born to the young couple  - documented on Ancestry and the Lancashire Online Parish Clerk's Project  But family life was not without its troubles. 
  • Margaret, born 1787, married before the age of 17, bricksetter Roger Riding, but was dead by the time her father made his will in 1833.  
  • John, born 1789,  at the age of 21 was served with  a Bastardy Bond, ordering him to contribute to the upkeep of his "said bastard child",  a daughter born to Ann Butler of Marton. John  died  and was buried in 1836. 
  • William, born 1791 died 1833.
  • Peter, born 1794 remained unmarried and made his home with his younger brother Henry. 
  • George, born 1797 - with no further information on him trace.  
  • Ellen (Nellie)  born 1799 - no further information traced.
  • Henry, born 1804 - my great great grandfather.
  • James, born 1811, died 1827 at the age of 15, with a note in the Index to Quarter Session Records  at Lancashire Record Office, of the  coroner claiming  travel expenses to go to the post mortem.  Unfortunately no further details have been found on the circumstances of James' young death

    Trap Farm, Carleton, near Poulton was known, from a scribbled page in the family bible  to be the Danson home in the 1830s. This photogrpah showing the dilapidated building was taken c.1998 - it has since been substantially renovated.

    Testimony to Henry's standing in the small community of Carleton (319 inhabitants in 1831)  was given by a listing of his property in the Title Schedule of 1838.  He name was also on the board listing sidesmen in  St. Chad's Church, Poulton. 

    Henry died 21st October 1839, at the age of 71 - his wife six  months later, both buried in St. Chad's Churchyard,   But four  of their  children  are known to predecease them -  Margaret, John, William,  and James. 

    The Will of Henry Danson, yeoman,  was  dated 1833, six years before his death. It was beautifully written in copperplate but very short on punctuation.  

      The first page of Henry Danson's Will.

     As a follow up to the will, I traced online an index to Death Duty Records, held at the National Archives (www.nationalarchives.gov.uk), an entry relating to Henry Danson.  This  gave the name of Margaret Riding's children to add to my family tree.

    I came across this short but beautiful testimony to Elizabeth (Betty) almost by chance in the death announcements. during a quite casual browslng of British Newspapers Online 1710-1953 on the website Find My Past. -
    "Blackburn Standard Wednesday 20 May 1840:  Betty, widow of the late Mr. Henry Danson, yeoman, Trap Estate, Carleton, near Poulton-le-Fylde. She was much esteemed, and will be greatly regretted by a large circle of acquaintances".
    These few lines, somehow brought Elizabeth (or the more familiar Bertty) alive for me, as no other record had done.  Moreover the  entry was in a newspaper I would not ahve thought of consulting for Poulton - a lesson to be open minded in a search

Finding the Marriage Bond and the  Will  is a classic example of the value of contacting the archive centre relevant to your research.   Think beyond  relying on Internet resources.  Most centres have their catalogues online  and offer a remote enquiry service,with a research services for more in depth requests.  There is a major pleasure  in finding documents (albeit copies)  that our  ancestors must have written and signed.    If you haven't used Archive Centres before, do give them  a try!   You might be surprised at what you find.



52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks                         


  1. Hi Sue, this was very interesting, and I appreciate finding yet another avenue for research. The paragraph about the farm seems to be cut off...probably the meaning had to do with renovation, I'm guessing.

    1. Thank you, Barbara, for picking up on my mistake. Yes, the word “renovated” was missed off at some point - since corrected.

  2. I love when you write Danson stories... I'm sure mine must be related to yours somewhere down (up?) the line. Regardless they lived in the same place so it gives me an idea of how my ancestors lived, and what resources I should look for. Thanks Sue!

  3. I really enjoyed reading this post. I have just joined the #52ancestors bandwagon and have been able to find so many interesting blogs with great research ideas.

  4. Thank you, Dianne and Roots, for taking the time to comment. I appreciate your kind comments.

  5. What treasures these documents are... and how they fill out the story. I'm thinking that 200 pounds was quite a fortune... they must have been very sure about the marriage taking place. Thanks, Sue.

  6. Now I’m wondering about my oldest document.


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