GNB
Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

County Council Marriage Records, 1826-1887

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In 1784, New Brunswick was established as a province with eight counties: Northumberland, York, Charlotte, Sunbury, Queens, Kings, Saint John, and Westmorland County. This was followed in 1786 with the establishment of a civil parish governance model, which provided for elected representatives to be appointed to a County Council to administer the affairs of the county. The County Warden acted as chief administrator for the Council, while the Secretary-Treasurer maintained the records, coordinated activities, and handled correspondence. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the provincial government expanded its role in these aspects of local life and county administration. As more regulations were passed concerning programs administered by the county councils, and as more provincial monies were needed to provide those programs, the interest and involvement of the central government increased. In 1966, all county councils were abolished as part of the centralization program known as Equal Opportunity, instituted by the Liberal Government of Premier Louis J. Robichaud.

Gloucester County Council

Gloucester County was established in 1826 when the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick passed Act 6 George IV, Chapter 31, dividing Northumberland County into three counties: Northumberland, Gloucester, and Kent County. Gloucester County was further divided in 1837 when Restigouche County was formed. Although the Gloucester County Council records date back to 1831, the county was not officially incorporated with an elective council until 1875 by Act 38, Victoria, Chapter 33. The Gloucester County Council records include information relating to taxation, welfare, education, justice, health, licensing, finance, legal, and other administrative records of the county.

The Gloucester County Council records also include early Marriage Registers for the years 1826 to 1887. These marriage registers include the name of the groom and bride, date of marriage, witnesses, place of marriage, and officiator. Interest in centralizing birth, marriage, and death records led to various Bills being submitted to the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly, but remained the responsibility of the County Council until 1887, when the Vital Statistics Act, Victoria, Chapter 5 was passed, which required that all marriages be registered with the registrar and/or deputy-registrars of Vital Statistics and filed for public consultation.

The transcription and indexing of the marriage registers for Gloucester County is the result of the work of genealogist Viateur (Vic) Robichaud. Originally from the village of Inkerman in Gloucester County, he is a graduate of the Université de Moncton and has lived in Fredericton since the start of his career in the New Brunswick public service.

A genealogy enthusiast, over the years, he has published several directories to help people identify their ancestors as well as the relationship between the families from the Acadian Peninsula.

Kent County Council

Kent County was established in 1826 when the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick passed Act 6 George IV, Chapter 31, seeking the division of Northumberland County into three counties: Northumberland, Gloucester, and Kent County. Although Kent County Council records date back to 1827, the county was not officially incorporated with an elective council until 1877 by Act 40, Victoria, Chapter 3. The Kent County Council records include information relating to taxation, welfare, education, licensing, finance, legal, and other administrative records of the county.

The Kent County Council records also include early Marriage Registers for the years 1844 to 1887. These marriage registers include the name of the groom and bride, date of marriage, witnesses, place of marriage, and officiator. Interest in centralizing birth, marriage, and death records led to various Bills being submitted to the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly, but remained the responsibility of the County Council until 1887, when the Vital Statistics Act, Victoria, Chapter 5 was passed, which required that all marriages be registered with the registrar and/or deputy-registrars of Vital Statistics and filed for public consultation.

Restigouche County Council

Restigouche County was established in 1837 when the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick passed Act 7 William IV, Chapter 57, dividing Gloucester County into two counties: Gloucester and Restigouche County. Although the Restigouche County Council records only date back to 1846, it is possible that other records may exist in the Gloucester County Council or Northumberland County Council records. Gloucester County was established in 1826 when the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick passed Act 6 George IV, Chapter 31, dividing Northumberland County into three counties: Northumberland, Gloucester, and Kent County.

Restigouche County was not officially incorporated with an elective council until 1877. The Restigouche County Council records include information relating to taxation, education, health, welfare, justice, public works, and other administrative records of the county.

Restigouche County Council records also includes early Marriage Registers for the years 1838 to 1878 (Microfilm only). These marriage registers include the name of the groom and bride, date of marriage, witnesses, place of marriage, and officiator. Interest in centralizing birth, marriage, and death records led to various Bills being submitted to the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly, but remained the responsibility of the County Council until 1887, when the Vital Statistics Act, Victoria, Chapter 5 was passed, which required that all marriages be registered with the registrar and/or deputy-registrars of Vital Statistics and filed for public consultation.

Sunbury County Council

Sunbury County was one of the original eight counties established in 1786 as administrative units to oversee local affairs in New Brunswick. Prior to the creation of New Brunswick in 1784 there had been no hard and fast boundaries established for the hinterlands of old Acadia and the British government at Halifax generally spoke of the western areas encompassing the St. John River valley as Sunbury County and the area to the east as Cumberland County. Thus at the time of the creation of the new Sunbury County it was but a shadow of what it had been. There had been little need for such administrative units while the population remained small and distributed, but the influx of ‘Loyalist’ settlers and disbanded military personnel meant a tangible Government presence would be required.

Eventually one of the Government administrative controls implemented was the registration of marriages. Beginning in 1812 marriages had to be registered with the civil authorities (the county councils). Prior to that, the only records of marriage were those filed with clergy, church clerks, or, in the pre-Loyalist period, within township records. For most counties these registers, the originals are actual bound ledgers, still exist and are preserved by the Provincial Archives. Unfortunately this is not the case for all counties and as early as the 1920s it was noted that the location and fate of the Sunbury registers was unknown.

In 1987, in an effort to compensate for this gap and to facilitate research on the history of Sunbury County, Elizabeth S. Sewell compiled a listing of marriages drawn from a variety of sources to publish Sunbury County, New Brunswick, Marriages: 1766-1888, Volume 1 wherein was listed and indexed marriages located at the time. The Sewell book contained marriages from five sources: A) Records of the Town of Sheffield, 1766-1824, 58 marriages; B) William Hubbard marriages, 1788-1824, 63 marriages; C) Sunbury County Council marriage certificates, 1812-1887, 969 marriages; D) Maugerville Christ Church (Anglican) marriages, 1787-1803 and 1867-1877, 187 marriages; and E) Sheffield Methodist (later United) Church marriages, 1815-1893, 47 marriages.

The Sunbury County marriage certificates are small pieces of paper used to capture the information prior to the information being transcribed into the registers. Since 1987, an additional 300 certificates of marriage for Sunbury County were located, bringing the total from this source to nearly 1300 marriages for the period 1812-1887. When created the certificates were numbered by the Sunbury County clerk from 1 to 1303. Forty-one certificates are either missing or the number was inadvertently skipped.

The Provincial Archives has scanned and linked the certificates to the index as part of putting this information on line and is indebted to Betty Sewell for her ground breaking work and to Dale Cogswell for his efforts to bring this project to fruition.


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