Arkansas Marriage Bond

+3 votes
I am looking at a family member from Arkansas who was married in the late nineteenth century. I have Google a bit but I am confused what a Marriage Bond is and why it says there is a penal fee of $100 to the Arkansas School Fund. Even more confusing is that the "surety" person is their son? How odd! Maybe it means they will be charged $100 if the marriage doesn't work out?

Anyone know anything about nineteenth-century Arkansas Marriage Bonds?
in Genealogy Help by Matthew LaMunion G2G1 (1.4k points)
recategorized by Jillaine Smith

1 Answer

+5 votes

Think of a marriage bond as an intention to marry – a reflection of an official “engagement.” A man who had proposed to a woman went to the courthouse with a bondsman (often the father or brother of the prospective bride), and posted a bond indicating his intention to marry the woman. The bond was an amount of money that the prospective groom would have to pay as a penalty if an impediment to the marriage was found. No money literally changed hands at the time of posting the bond. But if the groom was discovered, for instance, already to have a wife whom he had abandoned, the marriage could not go through and the man would have to pay (I’ve often seen bonds in the sum of 50 dollars or pounds, but the amount could be as high as $1,000).


by Eddie King G2G6 Pilot (627k points)
It was also an "school tax and abandonment" bond.  Several southern states had them, from $100 up to $1200. You'll see several couples crossing state lines to get married, it wasn't  actually eloping. its because they wouldn't have to pay the bond, as they weren't residents.

Some states even had professional bondsmen, kinda like your corner neighborhood bailbondsmen today.

It was usually the wife's family, generally brother, who would serve as bondsman, because they were ensuring they would care for the children and wife in case of death or desertion of the husband.

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