Was there a special Marriage license for Non-US Citizens in 1925?



My Great Uncle and Aunt sailed from Belfast, Northern Ireland to New York in August 1925. They were married on 25th November 1925 in Philadelphia and i have never been able to obtain a wedding certificate. My Great Aunts sister had been living in Philadelphia since 1921 and I am guessing they lodged with her until they moved onto British Guiana in early 1926.

In my quest to find a wedding certificate

Question: As they never became American citizens would they have needed a special type of license to get married in Philadelphia? I have already contacted the Philadelphia County Marriage Records and they are asking for €35 just for an initial search. I want to ensure before I authorize this (or be as sure as I can) that the record could be there. Is there anywhere else in the State they could be?

I have added more information on this link which may provide clues as it details everything I have discovered about their movements in the 1920s

Marriage Details

  • Date of Marriage: 25th November 1925
  • Husband: Thomas Frederick Smith
  • Wife: Charlotte Evelyn Silcock

Adage: As suggest by GeneJ (comments) I have reviewed the Philadelphia Marriage Index, for Thomas Smith (Image 129 of 339), Thomas Smyth (Image 137 of 339) without any luck. I am 100% sure they were married 25th November 1925 in Philadelphia as it states this information on Thomas's WW2 records, his last will and testament and Evelyn Smith probate.

I am guessing because Philadelphia County records want to charge me for a search, then there must be more marriage records than what appears on this index.


Posted 2013-02-25T16:39:10.953

Reputation: 277

2Hi Stephen, Welcome to Genealogy.SE. They married 25 November 1925/Philadelphia (and/or County). May I ask (a) how you learned the above date/location of the marriage? (b) What information that leads you to believe they resided at Philadelphia/Philadelphia County at the time of their marriage (or at any time) (c) Have you located the passenger list/travel from Northern Ireland to New York and also from New York to British Guiana? Finally, (d) have you looked at the birth info of this couple's first child and does that date give you any reason to suspect the information in (a) might be off? TY – GeneJ – 2013-02-25T21:57:28.227

1Thanks (GeneJ), Good questions: Biggest clues I have for everything asked are the passenger lists (all that you mention) I have copies. Their original destinations when coming from Ireland (via Liverpool)are addresses in PA. Also in Toms WW2 record is where I get the the date and place of Marriage. Their first daughter was born May 1929 in Canada. I have the border crossing record from the United States (March 1929)and also the birth certificate was witnessed by PA residents (Evelyns brother and wife). They arrived back in New York in 1928 from British Guiana after falling ill (malaria) – stephenmyall – 2013-02-25T22:15:37.977

2I called the Philadelphia County Records office and if they do not find a marriage record, they will return the $20 check. So for $15 I would request for a search. – Jeni – 2013-02-26T15:32:42.867

@Jeni, That was above and beyond the call of duty, thanks a million. That breaks it down a bit from what I understood and I agree it would be worth the search. I am also hoping someone can answer my question here as the search might be easier if i can share more information e.g. The fact they were British Citizens and not US. Smith is a very common name I have discovered in past the more information you can share, the better the prospect for success becomes. – stephenmyall – 2013-02-26T16:09:17.130

1The indexed entries for Philadelphia are online (FamilySearch). Reading the wiki for that collection at least suggests that index includes Philadelphia County, but confirming same was difficult for me. – GeneJ – 2013-02-26T16:23:25.497

Thought it has been a bit like dialing for dollars, I'm trying to contact both Philadelphia County and Delaware County to learn how one accesses the published marriage statues that were effective in 1925. Have other meetings now, so this may go on. – GeneJ – 2013-02-26T16:25:48.150

@GeneJ Great tip to review the Philadelphia Index of marriages. However this specific record does not appear. I am now at a loss to understand why this couple claimed to be married in Philadelpia on the date mentioned, if they do not appear in the index. How complete is this index? Is there something else I should be looking at? – stephenmyall – 2013-02-27T10:44:33.290

@StephenMyall, I checked it, so I know it doesn't appear. But the wiki is a little wishy-washy. IF we can learn the indexes on FS are complete as to Philadelphia and Philadelphia County, and if we learn the good folks at Philadelphia/Philadelphia County work from the indexes themselves, then there is no reason to to pay for a search. See next comment. – GeneJ – 2013-02-27T22:13:08.320

Darby, however, isn't in Philadelphia County, it is located in Delaware County. Ala the comment above, when I come up for air (or someone else does) a call to Delaware County is much in order, both to learn about their marriage records and how the 1925 marriage statues are accessed. – GeneJ – 2013-02-27T22:16:18.010

@GeneJ Being from Ireland I am not familiar with Philadelphia geography. I did make an assumption the Evelyn (the bride) was close to her brother as he and his fiancé visited Canada when Evelyns child was born. So I am assuming when Tom and Evelyn first arrived in PA in 1925 that they stayed close to David (even lodged with him) as they only stayed a few months. The link below is a paste of my notes about David and his whereabouts during this time. It mentions Chester and Sharon Hill but this is relevant to 1930 census not 1925. It may be a clue. http://paste.ubuntu.com/5572081/.

– stephenmyall – 2013-02-27T23:38:21.810



As best I can figure out, you did not need to have a special license. You may be having trouble because they were may have been catholic and the catholic marriage records in PA are not indexed or publicly available.

There are some good hints at the bottom of this RootsWeb page, including links for the various archdiocese. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~parecs/vital/marriage.html

They also point out that the marriage may not be recorded in the courthouse with jurisdiction over where it took place.

Hoping it helps.

Maura van der Linden

Posted 2013-02-25T16:39:10.953

Reputation: 926

Your link is a great help and in fact answers my question. FYI the couple were not Catholic. Your link is the proof I needed that all marriages in Philadelphia are not all indexed in one location. Hopefully in there I will find what I am looking for. Thanks – stephenmyall – 2013-03-14T21:12:17.253


Is there anywhere else in the State they could be?

I have had good luck finding marriages in church records.

Family Search has info on Pennsylvania Church Records with additional links to several religious organizations and societies. http://www.familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Pennsylvania_Church_Records

There is also a book of Pennsylvania Church Records http://www.worldcat.org/title/inventory-of-church-archives/oclc/68150025&referer=brief_results

Don't give up looking, many records just haven't been digitally added online yet.


Posted 2013-02-25T16:39:10.953

Reputation: 31

Hi @Michele, welcome to genealogy.SE - I'm not sure that this is a constructive answer in its current form. Perhaps you could detail what PA genealogy societies there are and link to them and give some more information on where to access the church records that you have had success with. – AvieRose – 2013-03-12T19:16:20.410

2Thank you for the Welcome! I was just searching for the link I wanted to add to my edit. Which has now been edited. – Michele – 2013-03-12T19:24:13.390