I have found an 1823 marriage record for my ancestors, John McGrath/McGraw/McRae and Martha Schophield. The marriage is listed as “by license” and was performed by a missionary.
Browsing through the book, I have found marriages by banns and marriages by license that specify that the father approved, as well as my example: marriages by license with witnesses who don’t seem to be family members.
I have also found an 1842 entry for the groom citing his profession of the Catholic faith and baptism at the age of 38. This profession is witnessed by someone of the same name as his wife - Schophield.
I am wondering what significance the marriage by license might carry, and if perhaps it might signify a marriage across faiths or without parental consent.
Banns were called in the church on three consecutive Sundays to let people know the couple was intending to marry. This was to allow any objections to be brought forward, for example if the groom was already married, before the marriage was to take place. Not all churches required this, it was for the most part Roman Catholic and Anglian churches.
Marriage by license was required by other denominations. Marriage by license also meant you did not have to wait three weeks to marry. An application was made to the appropriate office (ecclesiastical or civil) and a bond (money) was paid with a declaration, usually by the father, parents or close friends that there was no just reason the couple should not be married. These people were usually the witnesses at the marriage as well.
For Roman Catholics, you could not marry outside the RC faith so you either left the church and got married by license in another church or by Justice of the Peace, or... in many cases the other person converted to Catholicism and so was baptized in the Catholic faith as an adult and then the couple was free to marry in the RC church. Most often you will see the adult baptism entry and the marriage entered immediately after in the register.