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

Linda Johnson lindajohnsongenealogy at yahoo.com
Mon Mar 7 18:06:31 MST 2011

Thanks to all who offered suggestions about interpreting this marriage application and license. To clarify my original description, I contrasted the parents' _oath_ in the 1893 record with the parental _consents_ I'm accustomed to seeing. I don't think I implied that I believed on the basis of the 1893 record that the groom's parents had been asked for or had given _permission_ for him to marry. 

I agree with Ray that there must have been a reason why the parents gave an oath. Perhaps the reason is simpler than I originally thought. It's possible that the groom was unable to produce a written birth record to document his age (because the family had made at least two long-distance moves before arriving in the county where he married). In that case, a parental oath would seem to be a reasonable substitute for a birth certificate or similar document, especially in that time period. Perhaps browsing other marriage records in that time and place would indicate whether other young applicants for marriage licenses were also required to present some evidence that they were of legal age. If so, then it would appear that the clerk was simply performing his duties thoroughly and carefully; if not, then it would not seem unreasonable to conclude that he was suspicious that this particular groom was not of legal age. 

As for my statement:

>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,

I was not referring to their knowledge of the law. I simply meant that I don't believe that either the groom or his parents were unaware of his correct birth date or confused about it. Therefore, I believe the groom lied when he stated that he was "of the full age of twenty-one years." I agree that it's impossible to know exactly what his parents believed they were testifying to by swearing on oath that "there is no legal impediment" to the marriage. They might have been complicit in a lie about the groom's age; they might or might not have read his application; they might or might not have noticed his claim to be over twenty-one years old; the clerk might or might not have questioned them _in detail_ about any possible impediments to the marriage, etc.

Thanks again.

Linda Johnson

Ray Beere Johnson II wrote:

>The statement " _and parents_ on oath" (emphasis mine) suggests that >the parents _were_ involved, at least to the extent of giving their >oath to affirm that their son was twenty-one. I have _never_ seen any >legal document which stated anyone had given their oath on any matter >unless it intended to indicate that they had done just that. So "no >involvement by the parents" is a conclusion directly contradicted by >the evidence.
                            Ray Beere Johnson II

>>--- On Sun, 3/6/11, david t. robertson <robertson.d at rcn.com> wrote:

>>. It appears to me that the groom said he was 21.? Don't read more 
>> into the record than is there.? The parents permission was not 
>> necessary.? The statement might mean that the clerk doubted his age 
>> was true or he was just stating the law.? No involvement by the
>> parents is indicated.?


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