A Wedding in 1807

Before 1837 we had no national registration for births, marriages and deaths here in the UK. Baptisms may have taken place at a church and marriages and burials did too. It is often a matter of luck as to whether documents can be found. But in the case of my three great grandparents I have a copy of the document that was filled out when they married.


This marriage took place at Wadhurst Church in East Sussex. The records were clearly well kept and that is just great for genealogy. But with apologies to the good folks of Wadhurst, I am a bit sorry it was there for I think that church, topped off with a spire, is a bit ugly. It doesn’t have that four square solid look which I like.


Others will disagree with me – and I’d like to disagree with myself, for I was born in the parish of Wadhurst. I don’t remember living there for I was less than a year old when we moved. The church, of course, is full of interest.

But back to that wedding, back in 1807, when James Clark married Sarah Palmer. Sarah had been born in Wadhurst in 1787 and having to marry in the Church of England probably went against the grain with her for she was very much a Baptist. The Clarke (more recent relatives had the ‘e’ on the end) family remained strongly of the Baptist persuasion well into the 20th and even the 21st century.

James, however, I know little about. He committed the mistake, for we present day family history students, of passing away before any censuses had recorded him. And his other error was to have a very common name. I can’t be certain where he came from or when he died. Presumably he had a relation called Priscilla for she was a witness to the marriage, but I can’t be in any way certain about her.

What is clear is that James was not a writer. He made a cross whereas Sarah could write. She lived until 1870. The 1841, 51 and 61 censuses certainly helped to piece her family together.


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