THE SUSSEX MARRIAGE INDEX 1538-1837

An index of marriages and marriage licences from 1538 to 1837.  All records found for the parishes of Sussex are indexed, with over 300,000 entries on file.

A list of parishes and periods covered can be seen online.

Lookup fees are currently suspended for enquiries relating to the researcher's own family.

Applications to Mr D. Burgess, 5 Oakwood Close, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 4BE accompanied by a stamped addressed envelope, or an addressed envelope and two IRCs if abroad.

If you are a member and have an internet connection and only have need of a simple search contact, check the box to email. Please remember that the index is of marriages prior to 1838.

Please give brief details of the marriage required such as the approximate year of birth of the first known child and the area, leaving space below each entry for a reply to be written on your letter. Do not go into a lot of other detail or send charts or copies of documents. Searches will normally be limited to a period of twenty years.

A CD with the data is available for purchase. See SMI CD and the publications pages.

Please note that entries on the Sussex Marriage Index CD contain all of the data that we have. Please do not email asking for parents' names, or other information. Thank you.


The following is the text of a leaflet sent in response to postal enquiries.

Thank you for your enquiry about the Index. Although a number of the 310 ancient parishes in Sussex have registers (PRs) that date back to their introduction in 1538, the average starting date is 1592 but there are often later gaps, particularly over the Commonwealth period.

Some of the earlier periods and later intervals are covered by the bishops duplicate transcripts of the registers (BTs), for which the average starting date, where they survive, in West Sussex is 1567 and in the East 1606. Unfortunately the BTs are completely lacking for the period 1642-61, although after this they are usually continuous with perhaps the odd year missing here or there.

Apart from the above PRs (or the BTs where these are lacking) the Sussex Marriage Index also includes Sussex strays from marriage records in London and neighbouring counties and, unusually for a marriage index, all surviving allegations for marriage licences and the Sussex parties in many London and Canterbury allegations. Although most nonconformists had to marry in an Anglican church until 1837, Quakers were an exception and the Index includes their ceremonies from 1659. Catholics frequently repeated their marriages before a priest and, although few records survive, these are included from 1720.

Finally, many secret weddings took place in the precincts of the Fleet Prison, London, from 1667-1754, and over a thousand of these involving Sussex people are included. The only limitation is that the Index does not normally include records after the introduction of General Registration in July 1837.

The Index was originally compiled on slips by a dedicated team, lately from the Sussex Family History Group (SFHG), over a 30-year period from a variety of sources, with modern transcripts used in many cases. These can be of varying reliability, depending on the clarity of the original and the palaeographic skills of the transcriber. During the last decade another team has been inputting these slips to word processor (and latterly, database) with, of course, further possibilities of error.

As the amount of data provided in the Index also varies (witnesses names are not always given, for instance) recourse should always be made to the original PR and/or BT for confirmation and possible further details. This cannot be emphasized too much.

Please give brief details of the marriage required such as the approximate year of birth of the first known child and the area, leaving space below each entry for a reply to be written on your letter. Do not go into a lot of other detail or send charts or copies of documents. Searches will normally be limited to a period of twenty years.