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Daybreak79

1879 Tennessee Marriage License Fee

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While working on my family history I came across a Tennessee marriage license register for an ancestor from 1879. One of the things I found interesting and puzzling is that the fee for the marriage license is stated to be Twelve Hundred and Fifty Dollars. :eek: This seems like an outrageous sum of money for a marriage license in 1879. Does anyone know why the marriage license fee would be so high?

I looked at the other licenses on the same page and they are all for the same amount, Twelve Hundred and Fifty Dollars. This is a typed document, except for where the dates, names, and signatures are so it’s not like I’m misreading someone’s handwriting.

Any insight or resource where I can learn more about this will be greatly appreciated.

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Is it possible the typist neglected a period or that the fee is in cents? $12.50 is still a chunk of change back then but certainly less mind boggling. Or is the amount actually spelled out as Twelve Hundred and Fifty Dollars?

Edited by Dravin

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The amount is actually spelled out. And all of the other enteries for marriage licenses are the same, except for the parts that handwritten of course.

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Iggy, thank you!!!:D

Your Welcome :P

I actually read the entire thing for Tennessee to see if they stated when the bond would be returned to the marrying couple. Doesn't say.

In those days, $1,250 was a small fortune! Wonder how many couples just lived together in common law because they didn't have the $1,250.

Did you see where in that state if a person was found guilty of adultery, and their spouse divorced them for it, the person who committed adultery could not then marry the person they had the affair with until their first spouse was dead.

Oh, I know several women who wish that law had been in effect when their husbands cheated on them, then promptly married the 'other woman' within hours of the divorce becoming final.

I downloaded the entire file so that I could read it later - every state (I think) is listed, and if Tennessee is an example- there could very well be some interesting reading.

My family-ancestors are in Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, and some of the East Coast states. I am just learning about the latter.

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This seemed outrageous to me too as I was looking through indexing, but I looked into it a bit more and it didn't really cost $1250 to get married. It was a marriage BOND and was void if the marriage was performed legally. In other words, if it was found out that the marriage couldn't be legal (like they were already married, were related, etc.) then the bond would have to be paid.

Using Tennessee Marriage Records | J. Mark Lowe

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