Consular Marriage Declarations in Buenos Aires—Introduction

Declarations made in   1849-1855,    1856-1866,    1867-1875
Introduction     text of declaration     example     regulations

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As a source of information useful to family historians, the formal declarations of those intending to marry are of considerable value.
In these pages we are publishing the data, with an explanation and evaluation of it, and how it related to the entries in the marriage registers in the English-speaking churches of Buenos Aires, St Andrews's, St John's and the Methodist church.

Purpose of these web pages
Within the pages of a group of British consular registers, now deposited in the National Archives, London, there are 343 legal declarations made in the mid-ninteenth century in Buenos Aires by couples planning to get married.
These declarations offer useful information for present-day family historians, a transcription of them forms the principal content of this group of web pages, together with a small amount of additional data.

Authorship and Copyright
The content of these web pages, dedicated to the declarations of intention to marry within the British community in Buenos Aires from 1849 to 1875, have been produced jointly by Cathy Murray and Jeremy Howat.
The data has been extracted by Cathy Murray, though previous work by Arnold Morrison was very helpful. The web pages have been designed, written and executed by Jeremy Howat. Any errors and omissions are our own.
The data has been transcribed from volumes in class FO446 held at the National Archives, London. Since 1999, Crown copyright has been waived on the contents of most unpublished public records held in the National Archives.
The copyright to the form of presentation of these web pages lies with Cathy Murray and Jeremy Howat. The detailed sources for the data are laid out in a later paragraph of this introduction.

A matter of completeness?
While we have the data of the declarations made between 1849 and 1875, there appears to be no surviving consular archives that contain the declarations made before 1849, apart from the first two declarations in this transcription. This represents an important gap in our knowledge for those years. However, there is clear evidence in the St Andrew's Church marriage registers that indicates that legal certificates were issued by the British Consulate during this earlier period.
It is clear that the 343 declarations of the intention to marry are far from a complete list of all the members of the British community who married in Buenos Aires during the years 1849 to 1875. A comparison with the churches' marriage registers shows that there were other marriages that did take place, but not subject to the requirement of obtaining consular declarations. It will be only as the details in the various church marriage registers are studied and compared that we shall be able to establish a better picture of what happened.
For the moment, we consider that this list of consular declarations, even with its limitations, is sufficiently important to family historians for it to be published, and the information made available much more widely.

Church marriage records in Buenos Aires
St John's Anglican Church has marriage registers that date back to 1824. The first period, 6th June 1824 to 6th February 1825, covers five marriages registered at the British Consulate. The first Anglican entry in the St John's marriage registers was made on 27th August 1825.
St Andrew's Presbyterian Church in the City of Buenos Aires, locally known as the Scots (Town) Church, has marriage records dating back to 1827; these records have been microfilmed by the Utah Genealogical Society and thus are available to the public. It has to be said that these records of the marriages performed between 1827 and 1849 may be incomplete.
At the moment we know little about the records belonging to the Methodist Church in Buenos Aires.

Text of the Declaration
The text of the formal declararation remained unchanged between 1849 and 1875. At first the declarations were entered by hand in the legal registers, and correspondingly signed by the parties and the witnesses. The actual text is reproduced at example (1).
Later on the declarations were made on a printed form, which was then pasted into the current legal register. An example of the completed form can been seen by clicking example (2).
An interesting sidelight to the need to make a declaration of intention to marry is still found in the practice of the Church of England. This is the regulation requiring the publication of banns before most church weddings can be held. The form of words of the banns of marriage can be seen at example (3).

The information in each of the declarations of intention to marry has been abbreviated to a small extent. This is the result of the need to accommodate the original transcript to fit into the 750 pixels that is the adopted width of these web pages. What we have omitted here are the following:— the marital status of those making the declarations; the names of the witnesses to the declarations; and the page and volume number corresponding with each declaration.
In the table of declarations, readers may assume that all the men have stated that they were bachelors, and the women spinsters, that is, not previously having married. The exception is that in any entry where there is a letter (w) after the individual's name, signifying that the person was a widower or widow.
The abbreviation 'Brit. Subj.' self-evidently signifies 'British Subject'.
The text INDEX ONLY, which appears six times in the tables, indicates that the name of the person concerned only appears in the index to that volume, and that the corresponding page in the register has at some time been removed. In such a case, there has therefore been some loss of data.
All dates expressed on these pages are in the format days/months/years (d/m/yy).
One issue had to be faced during the work of transcription: the spelling of the names, especially last names, which within any one declaration sometimes varied. In cases of doubt, the spelling used in that person's signature has been accepted.
Should any reader wish to identify the precise page and volume number of any particular declaration, the names of the contracting parties, and the month and year when the declaration was made, will be sufficient to be able to go straight to the relevant page in the original record, or the microfilm page.
Access to the original registers can be gained at the National Archives, London, or through reading the microfilms made by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and available by arrangement at their Family History Centres.

The details of the records of these declarations held at the National Archives are:
Class 446 Foreign Office: Embassy and Consulate, Buenos Aires, Argentine Republic: General Correspondence and Miscellanea
FO446/28 contains the declarations made from August 1849 to July 1855;
FO446/6 contains the declarations made from March 1855 to April 1867;
FO446/29 contains the declarations made from April 1867 to May 1875.

The corresponding FHC microfilms are: 1494333, 1494332 and 1494334.

The first two declarations, Lawrie/Irving and Ramsay/Tweedie, are to be found in FO446/3 and FO446/4 respectively, and the corresponding microfilm number is 1494330.

Additional material
Some additional information has been added to the transcription of the marriage declarations. This material has been highlighted in the tables by being in italics. Apart from this, the list is a strict transcript of the data given in the volumes in the National Archives.

In particular, among the additional material, we have included the details of the dates and places where the marriages were celebrated, where known, from the actual church registers, as follows:
The St Andrew's (Presbyterian) Church marriage registers (abbreviated StA);
The St John's (Anglican) Church marriage registers (abbreviated StJ):
   document 30.20.01, 1824-1851;
   document 30.20.02, 1851-1871;
   document 30.20.03, 1872-1888.

© The form of presentation is the copyright of Jeremy Howat and Cathy Murray, January 2003