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Please be aware that this needs updating to reflect the changes to the Medway Council and Kent Registation Services websites.
Some of the links no longer work
If you are looking for a marriage in Kent, either from family hearsay, maybe because you have a GRO reference beginning with V (1837-1851) or 2a (1852-1946) you should be able to find the same marriage on the Kent Registration Services website; unless it occurred in what is now the Medway Unitary Authority area or in one of the London Boroughs that used to be part of Kent.
Kent Registration Services have indexed (nearly) all of their marriage records from 1837 into a searchable database, though for some odd reason marriages that occurred in 1850 and 1890 are not searchable. There are also known ommissions in the Sevenoaks area, in the Shipbourne/Hadlow area and the Canterbury areas.
It used to be that the exact date of a marriage and the name of the partner could be worked out from the Kent Registrations Services website, but this is no longer possible. However the church in which a marriage (in Kent) took place can usually be determined from the register code found from this website. Most of the Kent PRs are filmed and accessible at one or more of the Kent Archives, from Medway Archives in Strood ,or at any LDS Family History Centre. The Parish Registers of the Rochester Archdeaconry are freely available on-line through CityArk
It may also help if the marriage can also be identified using FreeBMD. The GRO reference is of no significance to the local register code but the registration district may be useful as some of the Kent local register codes are very similar to each other.
Marriage Finding exercise
I will use my gt grandparents marriage to explain how to get the most from the two sources. I am fortunate in that this marriage can be found in both the Kent Registration Services and CityArk databases.
My great grandparents were Richard MUNN and Helen LOVEL. I know from censuses (and other sources) that their eldest child was born c1875 so search for the marriage on Kent Registration Services website backwards from 1875.
Click on 'marriage certificates' then type in either surname (choose the least common surname, though for this exercise I am going to search for MUNN) and the year 1875 and click 'search'. Two Munn marriages are returned but neither is a Richard. Press the back button and change the year to 1874 and search again. Again two Munn marriages but no Richard. Back again, change the year to 1873 and search. This time there is a Richard MUNN listed and that the marriage is recorded in the register coded as C32/4, entry No 2.
Select the C tab at the bottom of the spreadsheet and scroll up and down to find C/32, (in the Gravesend Registration District list). It is shown as being the parish church of Milton-next-Gravesend (dedicated to St Peter & St Paul) in the Gravesend Registraton District. The /4 indicates that it was the fourth register book used by that church since 1837.
With help from KFHS and NWKFHS members I have compiled a partial list of register codes as an Excel file. Download this file,
This is good news, because Milton-next-Gravesend comes into the Rochester Archdeaconry area and the old parish registers are held at Medway Archives in Strood, but more importantly, thanks to a National Lottery grant, they have been filmed and put on-line as Medway Ancestors by CityArk. Rochester Archdeaconry covers the Medway towns and Dartford and Gravesend areas.
Click on the City Ark link and scroll down to see the list of parishes covered. It includes
Milton next Gravesend, St. Peter and St. Paul CMB 1558-1889 (P252) click here
That indicates that they only hold the parish registers to 1889 (presumably the later ones are still with the incumbant) but late enough for this exercise. Click on the link and scroll about a fifth of the way down the page. You will see that they have a marriage register for 1858-1873 and another for 1873-1889. The marriage search results showed that the Richard Munn & Helen Lovel marriage was entry 2 in the register which indicates that it will be at the beginning of the later book. Click on 'view image' for the 1873-1889 register and you get a long list of .jpg images. It is trial and error to find the right image, but since this was entry number 2 it is going to be at the beginning of the list. The first couple of images are the title pages and the image including the Munn-Lovel marriage is 00000140.jpg
Marriage registers are two entries per page, so most images show four marriages, but as this marriage happened to be right at the beginning of the book there are only two entries on that scan; on the right hand side.
The scans are high quality, but large files, about 1MB. With 512 broadband it takes about 20 seconds to download each image but once downloaded the file can be saved; just drag the image to the desktop on a Mac, or File -> Save Picture As on Windows. Then use any suitable software to crop the image to just the one entry before printing the "certificate" for your own records.
Caveat and disclaimer from the CityArk website.
Customers wishing to reproduce, print-off, download or publish images from this database or imagebase may require the permission of the owner of the Copyright of the original records. Publication by Medway Council of this database or imagebase does not imply a right on the part of the user to reproduce, print-off, download or publish the images or absolve the user from the need to obtain permission to reproduce items subject to Copyright. Medway Council has obtained permission from Copyright owners to reproduce images in this database or imagebase without prejudice to wider Copyright. Strictly no commercial or organisational reproduction, printing-off, downloading or publication of the images in this imagebase may be undertaken without the prior consent of Medway Council or the owner of the Copyright of the original records. No separate or independent databases or imagebases derived from this imagebase may be created for organisational or commercial purposes without the express permission of Medway Council or the Copyright owners. Where downloading of images is permissible it may only be done for reasons of private study. Private study is defined by the Patent Office and the definition is incorporated in the relevant legislation.