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OPR Banns & Marriages

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Parish registers may record the date(s) of the proclamation of banns or the marriage date itself or both, but only one or the other will appear in the index. There is no indication given in the index as to whether the entry is a proclamation or a marriage, but it is more usual for the index entry to show the proclamation date.

Proclamation of Banns
The proclamation of banns was the notice of contract of marriage, read out in the Kirk before the marriage took place. Couples or their 'cautioners' (sponsors) were often required to pay a 'caution' or security to prove the seriousness of their intentions. Forthcoming marriages were supposed to be proclaimed on three successive Sundays, however, in practice, all three proclamations could be made on the same day on payment of a fee. If the bride and groom lived in different parishes, the impending marriage was proclaimed in both parishes, although not necessarily on the same days, therefore the dates in each register may be different. You may also find that one register may show the proclamation date and the other the date of the marriage itself.


Do not expect too much from OPR banns & marriages records. The amount of information recorded can be variable and most entries contain very little detail.

At best: date(s) of the proclamation of intended marriage and/or date of marriage, names of bride and groom and their parish of residence, sometimes the occupation of the groom and occasionally the name of the bride's father.
At worst:the names of the bride and groom recorded along with the fee paid in caution.

Registers of Neglected Entries compiled for each parish by the Registrar-General after statutory registration began in 1855, contain a small number of marriage entries proved to have occurred between 1801 and 1854, but not entered into the parish registers. These are indexed in a similar format to other OPR entries.

Irregular Marriages
Bear in mind that 'irregular' marriages, by exchange of promises before witnesses, by betrothal and consummation, or by cohabitation and repute, were forms of marriage recognised by Scots Law, yet may have taken place without any official record of the event.

OPR Images
OPR images are stored in a JPEG format. There is an option on the "My Details " page to select the size of an OPR image. OPR images are displayed as standard using Lowest image quality, but you may vary the size by selecting from Lowest (lowest quality) up to Highest (highest quality). The highest quality gives the smallest file size and therefore is quicker to view/download.

Header Page
OPR images are scans from microfilm copies of the original registers. When you view an OPR image, click on "View Free Header" to see, at no extra cost, the header page detailing the reference information for the microfilm from which that particular image was digitised .

Image Description
A description of each image incorporating search name, image type and reference number and the date and time that the image was generated, can be found at the top of each image. If you would prefer not to display these details, uncheck the "Image Description Appears In Image" box on the "My Details" page.

Use the information from a banns & marriages entry to further your search:

  • The names of bride and groom, parish and name of bride's father (if recorded) can help narrow down the search for their births/baptisms.
  • The location of the marriage might help you to find the family in the earlier census records.
  • If the couple have been previously irregularly married and have come to solemnise their marriage in the eyes of the Kirk, there may be reference to this in the Kirk Session records.

Example of an OPR banns & marriages image

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