In this blog post, you will learn how to locate your Mexican ancestor’s marriage dispensation using the same resources that I myself use.
Before we go more in-depth let me tell you what a Marriage Dispensation is. In short, it is permission from the bishop granting the couple the license to wed by the priest. There are several reasons that permission was granted but these are the most common ones.
Reasons for a Marriage Dispensation
- The couple is related by blood. An example, they are cousins.
- The couple is related by marriage. For example, he is marrying his deceased wife’s sister or cousin.
- One of the persons is an Ultramarino, meaning that the person was not born in Mexico or la Nueva España.
There are other reasons but these are the most common ones.
Before a marriage dispensation could be granted an investigation was done where witnesses were questioned about the couple intending to get married. These records can run from a few pages to almost a hundred pages.
They contain a great deal of genealogical information and in some cases even a window into the lives of our ancestors.
Now that you got a super to the point crash course of what a Marriage Dispensation is let’s talk about my interest in them.
How I Became Interested in Mexican Dispensations
I was doing some research the other day and came across the marriage record for my wife’s sixth great-grandparents dated 7-28-1732 and the record indicated that they had a dispensation in the 3rd degree.
They married in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. This piqued my interest as to how they were related and especially since I was missing their grandparent’s names I became excited at the possibility of finding them.
The first thing I did was open up the book “Index to the Marriage Investigations of the Diocese of Guadalajara 1653 – 1750” and looked for their names in the index of names located on the back of the book.
I knew that they had to be there and sure enough entree 42-6 was theirs. It indicated that the dispensation took place in Monterrey back on May 2, 1732, and best of all it showed exactly how they were related.
That’s it, I could have stopped here but no, I decided that I wanted to get a copy of the original document.
At the top of the page in the book, it indicated that it came from microfilm #0168116 and the entry indicated that the dispensation was number 48.
I also happened to know that Monterrey was under the diocese of Guadalajara up until 1779.
Armed with this information and knowledge I quickly headed to FamilySearch’s online records for Guadalajara and located the Marriages for 1731 – 1732, I made sure I had the correct film number and which contained 456 available images.
I started to look for number 48. Unfortunately, they were not in order, and after five minutes on page 217, I found it. Five images containing 10 pages of handwritten writing. Now I have to find the time to transcribe it but for now, I have just added it to my database.
As I have shown it is not that hard to locate a marriage dispensation. I just hope that this example has provided you with some ideas on how to locate your own ancestor’s dispensations.
Books to Help You Locate Your Mexican Ancestor’s Marriage Dispensation Prior to 1770
The below books are essential and necessary to help you find these Marriage dispensations faster. Prior to 1770 copies of marriage dispensations were sent to the diocese of Guadalajara which had control over most of Mexicos Catholic Territory during the Spanish period.
If your ancestors lived in What is nowadays Texas, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, or Tamaulipas the go-to books are:
- Index to the marriage investigations of the Diocese of Guadalajara pertaining to the former provinces of Coahuila, Nuevo León, Nuevo Santander, and Téxas – Volume i
- Index to the marriage investigations of the Diocese of Guadalajara pertaining to the former provinces of Coahuila, Nuevo León, Nuevo Santander, and Téxas – Volume II
These two books cover the time period of 1653 to 1770. They were compiled and edited by Raúl J. Guerra, Jr., Nadine M. Vásquez, and Baldomero Vela, Jr.
If your ancestors are from any other region of Mexico then this book is the one that you need:
- Sagrada mitra de Guadalajara, antiguo obispado de la Nueva Galicia : expedientes de la serie de matrimonios extractos siglos XVII-XVIII
This book was compiled by Maria de la Luz Montejano Hilton. It is close to 1000 pages and it contains a wealth of marriage dispensations for all of Mexico.
The above books are very rare and can no longer be bought anywhere. Your best chances of getting to search them will be to look at worldcat.org and see if a local library near you may have a copy.
Websites to Help You Locate Your Mexican Ancestor’s Marriage Dispensation
Now if you can not find the books then I recommend you try and find your ancestors corresponding film number and dispensation number at:
Guadalajara Dispensas – Looks like the project has been discontinued and no new indexes are being uploaded.
Guadalajara Dispensas Tumbler – Took over where Guadalajara Dispensas left.
Valladolid Dipensas – This website has indexes for Sagrada Mitra de Valladolid, Antiguo Obispado de Michoacan
Familysearch.org – Of course, that is after you find the film and image number. This is where you find the dispensation manually since they have not been indexed.
How to Locate Your Mexican Ancestor’s Marriage Dispensation After 1770
Another thing to keep in mind is that you have to do some research about the church you are trying to find the dispensations for. You have to find it’s history and figure out if it ever was under the diocese of Guadalajara. Second, you have to find out at what point it changed to another diocese or when its current diocese was created.
For example, all the marriage dispensations for Nuevo Leon prior to 1770 were sent to Guadalajara. Then around the 1770s, the Diocese of Linares gets created and Monterrey is under it. At this point, we no longer find records in Guadalajara.
Unfortunately for us we no longer find records for Nuevo Leon anywhere.
The good news is that while browsing through individual church records some dispensas have survived but they are scattered within the marriage records of particular churches. Don’t ask me which ones since I can’t remember all the ones that I have seen, that is up to you to research.
You can learn about a particular diocese or church try searching on Google or read a book about your particular church. A good example of this was that I could not locate one for one of my ancestors in the dispensas of Guadalajara. It turned out that for my particular town they were next to the marriage records labeled as Informacion Matrimonial and for whatever reason they were not sent to Guadalajara.
Let me know about your finds in the comments or any questions and suggestions that you may have.
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