First BC Marriage Licence

Date:
August 1871
Record:
MS-0086
Materials:
paper

On August 14, 1871, the newly minted province of British Columbia issued its first marriage licence since entering Confederation on July 20 of that year. One hundred years later, the certificate was donated to the BC archives by descendants of Bruno Mellado and Mary Ann Thompson, whose August 22 marriage it recorded. They had eloped (he was 27, she was 16) “in a canoe paddled by four Indians from Nanaimo to Victoria,” taking two days to get to their destination.

Previous marriage licences had been signed by the Governor of the Crown colony. Marriage Licence No. 1 was signed by the province’s Lieutenant-Governor Joseph Trutch, as one of his first official acts. He was sworn into office the same day the licence was issued.

This was the first licence for a handful of marriages that took place after BC became a province, but before the civil registration of births, marriages and deaths took effect in September 1872. Those marriages are therefore not part of the records of the BC Vital Statistics Agency.

The document is not only significant in its own right, but the Mellados are considered one of BC’s pioneer families and have many descendants in BC and elsewhere.

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