The indispensable guide for all family historians tracing the marriages of their English and Welsh ancestors between 1600 and the twentieth century. Based upon years of painstaking primary research, including new studies of thousands of couples, this book explains clearly and concisely why, how, when and where people in past centuries married. Family historians just starting out will find advice on where ‘missing’ marriages are most likely to be found, while those who are already well advanced in tracing their family tree will be able to interpret their discoveries to better understand their ancestors’ motivations. How, for example, should we interpret our ancestors’ decisions to marry in a particular form or place, or at a particular time? Did their choices make them exceptional or normal for their day? Might their marriages have been bigamous, clandestine, or void? Or might they have conscientiously followed the rules set down by Church and State? Professor Rebecca Probert explains the mistakes and confusion found in most genealogical guides, and thoroughly rewrites how family historians should understand their ancestors’ lives in this most personal and universal of areas.