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Marriage Record 

Click on any part of the record above for a description and to go to that explanation.  Or you can scroll down the page on your own.

Date of marriage House Number Groom's name, parents and profession Groom's religion Groom's age Groom's status Bride's name, parents, profession Bride's religion Bride's age Bride's status Witnesses Witnesses' occupation Bottom of record: Various information


The parish priest kept a record of all marriages conducted in the parish. Before 1784 the records for all of the villages in the parish were kept together. After 1784, the priest kept all the villages separately. They may have been bound in the same book, but a separate listing for each village was organized alphabetically by village, year by year.

When searching for ancestors, never concentrate solely on one village, or even one parish for that matter. Although itís commonly thought that people never moved great distances outside their birth village, you will find people often marrying into families in neighboring villages and/or parishes.

Explanation of each column

1.  Numerus Serialis or Nr. posit. (Serial Number or Position Number)

The priest numbered each marriage record sequentially (1, 2, 3, etc.).   Each year the priest started over with number one. This was done to show that no oneís marriage could have been added or removed at a later date.

This simple information can be used by the genealogist to help cite information for your own family history. This extra citation will ensure your proper record keeping. Of course, it is not essential. However, if you would like this extra "protection", especially if the birth record contains names in a foreign language, in particular a foreign alphabet, you may do this. Furthermore, by tracking the sequential numbering of the marriages, one can determine any missing pages or pages out of order (which sometimes happens when researching microfilmed copies that may have been microfilmed out of order).

On some forms, this information is not found.

On this example above, this marriage was the 2nd in the year 1903.


2.  Dies et Mensis Natus et Baptisatus  (Day and Month of Birth and Baptism)

You should note both of these dates and not just the birth. Many genealogists concern themselves only with the actual birth date. However, one should keep both. Sometimes you may find ripped pages or pages not properly microfilmed where youíll only find one of the dates. Make sure that you mark it correctly as either the birth or the baptism, depending on which one of the two is present.

Be careful when noting the month and year. Often the month and year is not written for each and every personís listing, only the date. Carefully backtrack to the last month and year listed. Do so carefully so as to not skip a month or year and mark the wrong one down. Be careful of this especially when researching at an archive where photocopying is not available. Unlike using microfilm at a local Family History Center, you may not easily have a chance to return to the originals to verify your note-taking.

The months will usually be in Latin. This should not be a problem if the month is written out as the Latin resembles the English. In older Greek Catholic records, you may find the month in Church Slavic. Again, this will be easy IF you can read the Cyrillic alphabet since the Church Slavic terms also resemble the English.  For a list of months in different languages, visit my page on months.

Note the confusion over the written number of the month, in the case of 7-bris, 8-bris, 9-bris, and 10-bris (or 7ber, 8ber, 9ber, 10ber). These are NOT the numbers correlated to the way we count months today! They are based on the old calendar where the first month of the year wasnít January, but March. This makes sense if you look at the Latin meaning behind these four months. Study the roots of these months:

    "Sept" stands for Seven (7) in Latin.

    7-bris is September, not July



                    "Octo" stands for Eight (8) in Latin. Think of the word "octagon"

                    "Novem" stands for Nine (9) in Latin.

                    "Decem" stands for Ten (10) in Latin. Think "decade" or "decagram"

                    8-bris  is October, not August

                    9-bris is November, not September

                    10-bris is December, not October


Poland adopted the Gregorian Calendar (the one we use today) in 1582. The Greek Catholic church records were kept in the Gregorian Calendar. This is different than record keeping in neighboring Russian Empire, which kept the Julian Calendar until 1918. Depending on the year, there is about a two week difference between the two calendars.

After the tsarís government ended, the newly formed USSR adopted the Gregorian Calendar. So, the day after January 31, 1918 was February 13, 1918. (In the mid 1800ís, the difference was usually 12 days.) As a side note, some branches of the Orthodox church today still officially use the Julian Calendar. As you can see, this makes for easier research in Halychyna/Eastern Galicia than it does for our genealogical colleagues researching ancestors in the Russian Empire.


3. Numerus Domus (House Number)

Click here to see a detailed description, important usage, and often misunderstood column House Number.


4. Sponsus (groom) and Sponsa (bride)

Under each of these two main columns are the following columns:
Nomen (Name)
Religio (Religion)
Coelebes/Viduus or Vidua/Aetas (Unmarried/Widower or Widow/Age)

Here is each of the categories listed for both the groom and bride.

Nomen (Name)

The amount of information that can be found in this column varies from year to year, parish to parish and priest to priest. The potential for a great wealth of information from one marriage record is great. Of course, earlier years will include less information as a general rule.

Some of the early records of the beginning of the 19th Century list only the groomís and brideís name. As the years went on, the priest in the parish of Biały Kamień/Bilyi Kamin (both Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic) began to include more information, such as the parents of the newlyweds.

Look for these Latin terms:
        filius "son of..."
        filia "daughter of..."
        sometimes abbreviated for both "fil."
        filius leg. legitimate son
        filia leg. legitimate daughter
        fil. leg. abbreviation for both


These Latin terms would then require the genitive case of the following name, so you must be careful about noting the correct name.  See more detail as to grammar and its effect on the language, in particular on proper names, in my section on languages.

Sometimes, you may find the priest noted the maiden name of both the groomís and brideís mother.

For showing maiden names, you may find these various Latin terms:

Anna de Majewska de "of"
Anna de domo Majewska or Majewskich de domo "of the house of"
Anna ex Majewski ex "from"
Anna nata Majewska nata "born (with the maiden name)"

Pay particular attention to the names of the spouses. Remarriage was very popular in the event of a spouseís death. Reasons based on financial, social and religious well being vary for the individual. The surname listed for the woman may be her maiden name, the surname of her first husband, or the surname of her current husband.  In turn, you must be careful of these names in the future. A woman may be referred to in future records of her childrenís and grandchildrenís births, marriages, and death records with her own maiden name, the first husbandís surname or current surname. A thorough study of all of the womanís ancestors, even of the entire village, is necessary in order to track this properly. Of course, as always, you must be aware of the possibility of priest error, or copy error when looking at the Bishopís Copies.

Other information the priest might include, if youíre lucky, pertains to birthplace, current residence, and occupation.

Look for these Latin terms for such information:

habit. in + place name      residing in/resident in...   (habitat =he/she resides.  habitans = resident)
de + place name              from...
nat. in + place name        born in...        natus = (he was) born;  nata = (she was) born
oriundus (man) / oriunda (woman)       originating from

Other Latin terms you may find in this column that may be of help:
        p.d. (post delicta) deceased
ael Kłodziński, fil. leg. p.d. Adalberti et p.d. Barbara Puzyniak
        Michal Kłodziński, legitimate son of the deceased Wojciech and deceased Barbara Puzyniak

Examples illustrating the above points:

Ignatius (Ihnat in Ukr.) Hrycay, son of Cyrillius (Kyrylo) and Anna (Hanna) Makarowska the farmers.  Greek Catholic from Czeremosznia, born, baptized and residing in this parish.

 Parascevia (Paraskeva in Ukr.) Gulka, daughter of Joannes (Ivan) and Maria Mastowyk the farmers.  Greek Catholic from Cheremoshnya/Czeremosznia, born, baptized and residing in Cheremoshnya/Czeremosznia.




Religio (Religion)
Catholica/Accatholica or
Catholica/Ant Alia (Catholic/Non Catholic)

This is self explanatory. Sometimes, you may find the abbreviation "r.l." or "r.g." in this column or next to the personís name. This stands for Latin Rite (or Roman Catholic) for the first, and Greek Rite (or Greek Catholic/Ukrainian Catholic) for the second.  In the example above, in the column just to the right of the groom Joannes Swiderski (Ivan in Ukr.) is the abbreviation "r.g.", which stands for Greek Catholic.  In the column just to the right of the bride Sophia Marmulewicz (Zofia in Pol.) in the abbreviation "r.l.", which stands for Roman Catholic.

Sometimes, the religion is written out:

The groom on the left is listed as graeco cath. (Greek Catholic) while the bride on the right is listed as rom. cath. (Roman Catholic).  The names read:

Groom Bride

Stephanus Makarowski, agricola de Czeremosznia oriundus, fil. leg. Erasmi et Antoninae Grabowska agricolarum

Anna Gieża de Czeremosznia oriunda fil. leg. Leonis et Clarae Lechowska agricolarum
Stefan Makarowski, farmer originating from <the village> Czeremosznia, legitimate son of Herasym and Antonina nee <maiden name> Grabowska, the farmers Anna Gieża originating from <the village> Czeremosznia, legitimate daughter of Leon and Klara nee <maiden name> Lechowska, the farmers


Coelebs / Viduus (for the Groom) (Unmarried / Widower) and
Coelebs / Vidua (for the bride) (Unmarried / Widow)

The priest will check one of these appropriate columns. Pay particular attention to the newlyweds who are widowed. Look carefully at the information found in the Nomen (Name) column to determine any information on the previous spouse.


In the example above, the column just to the right of the groom's age (25 yrs.) is checked, which on this document means he was a widower.  However, the column just to the right of the bride's age (17 yrs.) is checked, which on this document means she was never married before.  Here is the translation of the text in the name columns for both:

Groom Bride

Joannes Drabczak agricola, viduus post Annam natam Łabuńska, filius p.d. Francisci et Agnetis natae Łopuch agricolarum Usznia

Cunegunda Oleynik filia Joannis et Catharinae natae Kłak agricolarum Uszneaenscum
Jan Drabczak the farmer, widower of the deceased Anna nee <maiden name> Łabuńska, son of the deceased Franciszek and Agnieszka nee <maiden name> Łopuch, farmers from <village> Usznia Kunegunda Olejnik, daughter of Jan and Katarzyna, nee <maiden name> Kłak, farmers from <village> Usznia

Aetas (Age)

This is self explanatory. Sometimes, I have even seen the priest write the specific date of birth for both the groom and bride. (What a bargain!). Of course, be very careful about taking the priest for his word. The priest may have been a few years off when recording this information. As always, there could even have been a copying error by the priest, especially when studying the Bishopís Copy.

5. Testes (Witnesses)
Testes et Conditio (Witnesses and Occupations)

The priest indicated the name of the witnesses of the marriage, often along with their occupation. Sometimes the priest indicated if the witness was from a different village or parish.

This information can lead to further clues and research. The names may be close friends or relatives of either the groom and/or the bride. They can be used to determine that the person was still living at the time of the marriage.

Be careful when studying the witnesses since only their names are listed. Usually there are several people in the village with the same exact name, so determining the specific person may be difficult if not impossible.

In this example, the names of the witnesses are not written in Latin, but in Polish.  They are Andrzej Swiderski and Tadeusz Kłak, both farmers.

The priest usually included the occupations of the witnesses.

Often the priest or author of the record drew a "+" or Sign of the Cross next to the names of the witnesses.  This "+" or Sign of the Cross does NOT mean "deceased" as it does when it appears in the birth/baptismal records next to the name of the birth child.  Roman Kałużniacki shared some important information to me and members of the Galicia_Poland_Ukraine listserv regarding this notation.  He states that the priest was instructed to have the godparents sign the register.  In the event the godparents were illiterate, they were to draw a "+" or Sign of the Cross.   Understand that in the case of the Bishop's Copies, obviously the priest or scribe would simply write out the name or draw the "+".  Finally, I should note that one does not frequently come across actual signatures in the original records.

Roman Kałużniacki translates some instructions found in the beginning of a marriage register: "Notwithstanding the pastors themselves will pay close attention, that the witnesses themselves are to enter their name, surname and occupation, should they not be able to write, and a schoolteacher or other person enter their data, that the witnesses should certify this other person's entry with the Sign of the Cross or other sign, as is customary in other documents.

6. Bottom of the Record

Sometimes a priest wrote a formal statement at the bottom of the marriage record about the marriage agreement. Sometimes, this was not done. Sometimes, the priest simply signed his own name. This statement can be found in Latin, Polish, Ukrainian or even a mix of languages. The priest sometimes included some information here that may not be in the above columns.

This statement often proclaimed that the parents of the newlyweds agree to the marriage. In one case, the name of the father of a groom is not listed in the columns, but appears in the handwritten statement by the priest.

The statement may contain the banns of marriage, or the three dates where the marriage was announced in the church, usually the three Sundays before the event of the marriage. Sometimes, there will be a place where the parents of the newlyweds sign the document to prove their agreement. At other times, the priest may write an "X" where the parent was to sign to show that the parent agrees to the legal marriage but is not literate and canít write his/her name.

It may take considerably more time to read the marriage records than the baptismal/birth or death records, but yield is often much greater.

This paragraph comes from the bottom of the record that is pictured at the very top of this webpage.  It is roughly translated as "For our own young children Jozef and Karolina in the presence of the two above mentioned witnesses, as well as to the permitting fathers contract the marriage, to which we make sign the marks of the cross.  Jan Mikoda, father, and Jacku Drabczak, father.  Signed by the priest Ignacy Dunajewski.            Questions and Comments to Matthew Bielawa
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