By Donnette Stringham Smith
When someone wanted to get married without having to post the banns for three weeks at the church, they could pay to get a marriage license. The ordinary laborers tended to be married by banns, while those who had a little more money would get a license. Oxford people could get a license from the Archdeacon or the Bishop at Oxford, or from the Archbishop at London. (All from the Church of England) They were given the license to give to the minister who married them. Just the bond was left at the Archdeacon's office. Many of those were probably lost and this index was made of what was left. Some of the bonds were lost after the index was made. The Archdeaconry and Diocesean Courts had the same boundaries so it was probably a toss up which court the couple went to to get their licence.
The actual bond gave the name of the bride and groom, their parish, and the name of a bondsman, who was often a relative. Once in a while it gave other information such as age of couple, or permission to be married from the parents for someone who was underage. The index was alphabetized by grooms names for each year.
There used to be a copy of the hand written Archdeacon's Index and the Diocesan Index at the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford but they may have been moved to a record office in Oxford when the parish registers were moved. There was also a copy of the Archdeacon's Index at the Society of Genealogists in London. That index is 700 pages long, with about 31 marriages per page, covering the years 1634 to 1849 or in other words, about 25,000 possible marriages. The Diocesan index had about half as many bonds covering the years 1661-1850.
In those original hand written indexes under each year was listed in alphabetical order the groom's name with his parish, the bride's name and her parish.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints microfilmed those Archdeacon's Indexes (LDS film # 095,197). People can order that film into their local LDS Family History Center. I was referring so often to that microfilm, I eventually computerized it. The computer then alphabetized the brides, grooms and parishes in alphabetical order.
I might say that the copy that was filmed at the Society of Genealogists (LDS film # 476,648) looks as if the book was half bound, then dropped, and the later pages put back in the wrong order. This copy was used to proofread the computerized copy.
The Oxfordshire Diocesan Marriage Bond Index gives all of the genealogical information that is on the bonds. I had that microfilmed at the Bodleian Library some years ago and it is contained on three rolls of 35 mm file. That index and the original bonds may have been moved to the Oxford Record Office also.