Find your ancestors in South Australia, Pre-civil marriages 1836-1842


Do you have South Australian ancestry?

This is a listing of marriages in South Australia prior to the introduction of Civil Registration on 1 June 1842. It's a terrific genealogy tool for anyone exploring their family history or building a family tree.

"What information can I find on this index?"

• Last names of couple
• First names of couple
• Age of couple
• Address of couple
• Name of couple’s fathers
• Name of couple’s mother
• Occupation of groom
• Date of marriage
• Place of marriage
• Name of celebrant
• Notes
• Sources

The first settlers to the colony were accompanied by the Colonial Chaplain (the incumbent of [Holy] Trinity North Terrace Adelaide), the Rev Charles Beaumont Howard. He was the only clergyman present for much of this period conducted many of the marriage services regardless of the denomination of the couple and maintained a register. The Rev James Farrell, initially an assistant priest, arrived in 1840.

Other clergy amongst the earlier arrivals included Thomas Stow (Congregational) and Ralph Drummond (Presbyterian). The Rev Newland (Congregational) was based in Encounter Bay from mid 1839 but no records of early marriages have been located for this district.

William Ullathorne (Catholic) visited from Sydney for two weeks in June 1840. It is not known if he conducted any marriages and took the register back to Sydney. Some of his baptisms conducted in Adelaide were deposited with the NSW BDM Registry but no marriages were deposited. About the end of July 1840, Ambrose Cotham OSB who was on his way from Van Dieman's Land (now Tasmania) to England called at Port Adelaide and remained for a few days. William Benson arrived on the Dorset 14 February 1841 to establish a regular presence. The first church and presbytery in Adelaide were situated in Waymouth Street, at the corner of Tatham Street. Father Benson’s records have not survived. Edmund Mahoney conducted marriages in the colony after civil registration started but failed to register some of them. To assist researchers these few marriages have been included.

There is no doubt that the Lutheran Congregations founded at Klemzig (1838) and later at Hahndorf (1839) by Pastors August Karvel and Gotthard Daniel Fritzsche conducted marriages. These records have not survived.

Methodism arrived in the colony by the beginning of 1837 and each minister probably maintained records but none are known to survive.

The Baptist Church was operating by July 1838 but there are no known records for this period.

Quakers marriage records date from 1841.

In the absence of local laws it is not certain under what authority persons other than Anglican ministers, Quakers and Jewish rabbis could perform marriages (English Marriage Act 1753). The marriages in this era technically could not be performed under the Marriage Act 1836 (which allowed for licenced civil celebrants) because Section XLV of that Act confined it to England.

This list is by no means complete and some records cannot be confirmed. You need to treat some of the entries with caution and attempt to verify using the sources given.

BISA = Biographical Index of South Australians 1836–1885

Data provided by Graham Jaunay.