[APG Public List] Need help interpreting 1893 Minnesota marriage license

Linda Johnson lindajohnsongenealogy at yahoo.com
Sun Mar 6 15:47:37 MST 2011

I've seen several marriage records from various times and places in which the parent of an underage bride or groom gave permission for his/her child to marry. Those records generally said, very simply, that the child was under the legal age to marry but the parent granted his/her permission. That being the case, I'm not sure how to interpret this one:  

The groom in a Minnesota marriage was nineteen when he filed an application in 1893, at which time legal age for males to marry was twenty-one. The groom declared on oath in the application that he was "of the full age of twenty-one years." Numerous other records show him and his parents to have been very consistent in stating his birth date and place, so I don't believe this is a case of ignorance or confusion. The license section, filled in by an assistant clerk, states that the license to marry is granted, [his] "being satisfied by the statement of said [groom's name] and parents on oath, [blank lines with nothing written on them] that there is no legal impediment thereto." I would have expected either that there would be no parental oath on the marriage record of a groom who was of legal age or that, with a parental oath, his age would have been stated correctly (under twenty-one years).


1. Does the fact that the parents' oath was apparently required indicate that the clerk (in a small community) knew the groom was not of legal age?

2. Does the record imply that the groom's parents, as well as their son, lied about his age in order for him to marry? (The bride was already pregnant, so there was some urgency for the couple to marry before the birth of their child.) 

Thank you for any insights you may have.

Linda B. Johnson


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