Double Marriage Entry

Came across something very curious last night…

The marriage of George WREFORD and Harriet STILING (for which I have both the original parish entry AND official copy of entry, as well as the record of banns) was recorded twice in the registers – same parish, church, year and even volume – within pages of each other.

Jan-Mar Quarter 1845, Volume 10 page 407
April-Jun Quarter 1845, Volume 10 page 431

At first I thought it may be a different George Wreford since Wrefords abound in Devonshire, but Harriet is mentioned in both entries (albeit with different spelling).

Perhaps the clue lies with the only other name from both entries – Elizabeth Galliford recorded as marrying George Marley/George Manby.  Perhaps it was just recorded twice to clear up the spelling mistakes but that also doesn’t make sense as the parish records show both marriages actually took place in the April Quarter.

Marriage of George Marley to Elizabeth Galliford
Marriage of George Wreford to Harriotte Stiling

I have tried searching for a second ceremony in the Tiverton area via the Devon Parish Registers on findmypast but there doesn’t appear to be any.

Why would the marriage which took place in May be initially recorded in the previous quarter?  I guess the next step is to order the record from page 407 although I don’t want to spend more money just to get the exact same copy sent to me.


  1. I will now begin spelling Miss Stiling’s name as Harriotte as that is how she signed the register herself.
  2. I found out while researching this that Phillip Chave, who appears in both entries as witness and several times in the Cove registers was actually the assistant to Mr William North Row of Cove House – magistrate for Devon.  I presume this meant he often ‘sat in’ as witness for these smaller ceremonies where required.  I had originally thought he may have been a friend or relative.

Next Steps:

  • Order Jan qtr marriage certificate
  • Revisit Harriet STILING to find connection to Cove area

Marriage Entries VS Marriage Certificates

I have been writing a lot about my WREFORDs lately, particularly with regard to George WREFORD and his bankruptcy woes. However, his wife would have also been sharing these worries with him. Also missing from the 1861 census, perhaps she had travelled to Exeter for his court hearing.

In 1845, Harriotte STILING married George WREFORD in Cove Chapel (in the Pitt quarter of the parish of Tiverton). Both lived in Tiverton at the time and both of their fathers were farmers. I know this (and their father’s names) because of the information recorded on their marriage certifcate.

This is a copy of their marriage ordered from the General Register Office (my first ever certificate ordered):

George WREFORD and Harriet STILING marriage certificate – 1845

A lot of people assume that the signatures on these certificates are those of their ancestors when first starting in genealogy. However, this is only a ‘Certified Copy of an Entry of Marriage’ (as stated on top of the document). Someone (with authority) has basically just copied the information into another book.

This is the actual entry for their marriage in the Cove Chapel parish registers:

George WREFORD and Harriet STILING Marriage Entry – 1845

There is no difference in the information given except I now have the actual signatures of George WREFORD, Harriotte STILING and her father John STILING!

A Philip CHAVE was also witness to the marriage – he may be a relative, close friend or just someone there on the day.

You may think, why bother?
Well, sometimes the information can differ from the copy but I have to admit, it gives me a little thrill to see the actual signatures. In the absence of photographs or other memorabilia, it can be as close as you may get to ‘touching’ your ancestor. I can imagine having access to the actual parish register book they would have written in would be even more thrilling. It may be sad but I’m sure other family historians out there know what I’m talking about.

NOTE: I remember reading somewhere that an X (or mark) as a signature didn’t always mean the person was illiterate. Sometimes women especially would use an X so as not to show up their new husband.

I like to visit places which played parts in my ancestors’ lives so we drove up to Cove through very narrow, winding hillside roads. I believe this photo is of Cove Chapel. It is fenced off with a PRIVATE sign right next to someone’s home so we stuck around long enough just to get this photo. I have been unable to find much information on Cove Chapel so if I’m incorrect, please let me know.

Cove Chapel, Tiverton parish as it was August 2009