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Meaning of parish register abbreviation

Discussion in 'General Genealogical Queries' started by Pauline, May 11, 2020.

  1. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    I have been looking at marriages in and around 1680 in the parish register for St James Duke's Place, London (images at Ancestry) and am puzzled by an abbreviation used in almost every entry.

    Almost all of the entries include the name of a third person, who from their surname and from those names which occur regularly, does not appear to be a relative of either bride or groom.

    Until late 1679 (image 80) this third name is followed by the words "gave her", but from mid December 1679 onwards, the entries change to a different hand and the third name is followed by the abbreviation "Fr" - that is, "capital F superscript r".

    Can anyone suggest what this abbreviation might stand for, please? My best guess is that the third person may be some kind of witness to the marriage, but it's not something I've seen before in any consistent way at this date as in this register.
     
  2. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Fr normally stands for 'Father' - it's presumably the person who officiated. Not all pre-1753 registers include the name of the person who conducted the marriage, probably because it's usually the incumbent.
     
  3. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    I am not so sure if it stands for Father here as there were a lot of different names. The marriage I was interested in was in 1682 and there were 9 marriages on the same day, with the third name being different for all of them.

    I gather that many clandestine marriages were conducted in this church at that time so maybe the answer lies there somewhere.

    It seems possibly to be something to do with the bride since the abbreviation seems to replace what had been "gave her".
     
  4. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    I'm not sure that the previous wording was in English - registers often include Latin. The same names appear more than once and on different pages - if it wasn't the person who carried out ceremony, perhaps it was the person who signed the marriage licence?

    Where there is a parish stated there seems to be no name.
     
  5. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    It looks to me like more like "gave her" than anything Latin. Although the writer isn't consistent about writing the letter "e", the 'v's are the same as in certain names (eg Davis) and the word "her" mostly looks fairly clear.

    If these were clandestine marriage then presumably there wouldn't have been a licence?

    I was wondering also if Church of England clergy were unlikely to have been referred to as "Father" at this date. It was a Catholic term and it was the influence of the Oxford Movement in the 19th century which introduced it into the Anglican church.
    Yes, I noticed that, although it is not the case on all pages. And a few entries without a parish don't have a name either.
     
  6. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    I did wonder whether Catholic priests were involved, hence the 'Father'.
    Clandestine doesn't necessarily mean irregular. But I do remember reading somewhere that some unscrupulous clerics sold off blank signed licences.
     
  7. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    I think the thing about clandestine marriages is that they were held in breach of canon law. At this time, for those who wanted to marry outside of their home parish (for whatever reason), a clandestine marriage provided an alternative to obtaining a licence or satisfying residency criteria for the banns.

    I wonder if those entries in this register which didn't include a third name were those marriages which were not clandestine.
     
  8. At home in NZ

    At home in NZ LostCousins Star

    In image 80 I notice that the word 'then' appears before the word 'married. It's almost as if something occurred before the marriage and I can only surmise baptism.

    The abbreviation Fr after the first two entries in the new hand looks to me as though it indicates father of the widow.
    But, that does not explain why similar abbreviations occur at the end of the records where the bride is a spinster.

    In later images the abbreviation changes to what looks like SSr which in modern script is Ffr or ffr.
    I have searched for information about clandestine marriage records and for abbreviations used in registers but cannot find this particular abbreviation.

    Perhaps we could call this an intriguing mystery we couldn't solve during Covid 19 lock down. (We get a bit more freedom here in NZ tomorrow - hooray!).
     
  9. Susan48

    Susan48 LostCousins Star

    At that time an upper case f was often represented by a double lower case f - see the entry for Feb 12th 1679 on image 84, where the bride's surname is Fortescue, spelt ffortescue.
     
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
  10. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    An interesting poser for which I had no answer until I found the following extracts covering the subject in question. I found them after perusing a Family Search Link Parish Registers and thereafter clicking on the period in question 1668-1683 entitled Family Search Books. To save time here are the relevant extracts that attempt to answer Pauline's question. It is in 2 parts as it went over page

    upload_2020-5-13_10-33-50.png

    upload_2020-5-13_10-35-6.png

    Hope this helps as does this statement found on the link page given above

    Clandestine marriages
    During the second half of the seventeenth century, St James' Duke's Place was a clandestine place of marriage, free of the Bishop of London. 40,000 marriages took place there between 1661 and 1691. In 1686, the rector was actually suspended for performing marriages without banns or licence.
     
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 3
  11. At home in NZ

    At home in NZ LostCousins Star

    Well done Bob, I did look at FS but didn't see that.
     
  12. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    Interestingly if you follow the Family Search Books, after the introduction pages, it then shows a transcript (not the original) of all the marriages in question. There are 329 pages in total and you can jump forward by amending the 'n' figure <n - 329>
     
  13. At home in NZ

    At home in NZ LostCousins Star

    Very interesting and proves you learn something every day.
    I did see the bit about St James being free of the Bishop of London, must have had blinkers on to have missed the explanations etc.
     
  14. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    The extracts Bob posted are from the Preface to the published transcript, pages vi & vii, which is also at FMP. Having first seen the marriage in this transcript, I tried to scroll back to the start of the book to see if there was anything useful in an introduction, and found I could only scroll back a page at a time, and that no page number dialogue appeared to enable me to jump back to the start of the book. Scrolling back 160 images on standard broadband was going to take me ever! I have now managed to find a way to look at the preface at FMP without scrolling all the way back.

    It does seem, though, that the transcribers were also a bit unsure what the abbreviation stood for.
     
  15. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    I wonder if the word 'then' was being used simply to indicate that the next marriage took place after the previous one, which I have sometimes come across in other registers.
     
  16. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    It seems there was some dispute as to whether St James Duke's Place was exempt from the Bishop's jurisdiction or not, which is why the Rector was suspended. However, he was apparently reinstated about a year later so perhaps his exemption claim was accepted.

    He soon afterwards continued performing clandestine marriages.
     
  17. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    The book that Bob found comments that including a third name is virtually unique, so I'm not sure we can rely on the author's interpretation.
     
  18. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    Yes, and as I commented above, they didn't seem very sure anyway!
     
  19. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    If I get a chance I'll mention it to Professor Probert - if anybody knows it'll be her!
     
  20. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    Yes please, if you can.
     

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