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Hungarian Genealogy: Research Tip #8

The theme of today's tip is: In-Depth Analysis of Hungarian Marriage Records

Today, I'm going to teach you how to decipher every part of a Hungarian marriage record, and share with you what each piece of information can tell you. I am going to put each piece of the marriage record we're analyzing, into red boxes for ease of use for you, the reader. We will work through this marriage record, step-by-step. For easier viewing, you can click on each image for larger views. Let's begin!

For reference, this is an 1830's marriage record from the Reformed parish of Taktaszada, Zemplén county, Hungary.

The beginning of the record (after the entry number [#6] and the date of marriage [December 17]), states the place of residence of the groom. It states "Dadáról helységünkbe". This states that the groom was a resident of the town of Dada (shortened form of Tiszadada). This tells you that his baptism record may be found in the Reformed parish records of Tiszadada, and that there may actually be another reference to this marriage in the parish records of Tiszadada. It's worth checking both parishes of the groom and bride, to check for two marriage records (one would be a reference to the original marriage), in hopes of the additional marriage record providing additional information not stated on the previous record.

This second box states the name of the groom's parents. Not every marriage record will provide the names of the groom and bride, so you've gotten lucky when it provides their names! This entry states the father and mother are "Hajdú András" (s. f. = és feleség; and wife) "Fónzó Erzsébet". You now have the groom's parents, and information to use to find the groom's baptismal record. You must also take note that since the groom was NOT from the parish in which the marriage is occurring, a name may mistakenly be listed incorrectly. (An example would be: the mother's name was actually Juliánna, but was written as Johanna.) Because the groom was not from the parish in which the marriage was occurring, the parish priest performing (and recording) the marriage didn't have the baptismal records to refer to, to find the groom's baptism and parent's names. The information had to be provided by word-of-mouth, and although rare as it may be, it was occasionally misheard and incorrectly written. Much more reason to check for the additional marriage record in the groom's parish!

This box is easy enough to decipher. It's the groom's name: "Ferencz". This given name is in Hungarian, although it's very common for given names in Hungarian records to be in Latin, and sometimes also in German. Depending on the area your family is from, it could be written in Slovak and Ruthenian, also. I created an excellent guide to Hungarian given names, which includes their English and Latin variations. You can find that here

The next box describes the place of residence of the bride and her family. It states" Baái lakos", which means they were a resident of Baái (correctly written as Báj). As I stated above with the groom's place of residence, it would absolutely be worth your time to check the Reformed parish record of Báj, in hopes of finding another additional marriage record. This marriage record is a unique one, as the bride isn't being wed in her home parish; the bride was almost always married in her home parish. Knowing the place of residence of the bride and her family, you now have a good guess as to where she may have been baptized!

Following the place of residence of the bride's family, is listed the names of the bride's parents. They're names are as follows: "Szentpéteri Mihály" and "Szalai Juliánna". With the place of residence (Báj) and now the name of the bride's parents, you have an even better shot at finding the bride's baptismal record. As I stated above, when the individual "was not from the parish in which the marriage was occurring, the parish priest performing (and recording) the marriage didn't have the baptismal records to refer to, to find the bride's baptism and parent's names. The information had to be provided by word-of-mouth, and although rare as it may be, it was occasionally misheard and incorrectly written. Much more reason to check for the additional marriage record in the bride's parish!" Now all we need is the bride's name.

And finally, we have the bride's name: Rebeka! With her given name, the name of her parent's and her place of origin/residence, you should be able to accurately find her baptismal record! As I stated above, it can sometimes depend on the geographical area in which your family was from, for what language the given name was written in. The obvious choices are Hungarian, German and Latin; but if your family was from northern Hungary, it could very well appear in Ruthenian (a cyrillic script and completely different alphabet than we English speakers use) or Slovak. If your family was from western Hungary, parts of the Banat or other large Germanic settlement areas, the names could appear in German. Moving farther south, you begin to come across Croatian and Serbian names. Far to the north-east you run into Ukrainian and Ruthenian (again), and finally east and south-east you come across Romanian. As I mentioned above, I created a Hungarian given names list with variations in English and Latin; you can find that list here.

This marriage record didn't appear to list any witnesses to the marriage, which leads me to believe that this is actually the testimonial recorded entry of the real marriage record. I suspect that the real FULL marriage record will be found in either Tiszadada or Báj, but likely Báj as it's the bride's parish.

Within this marriage record, it appears that both parents of the groom and bride were living. Occasionally, you will come across a marriage where some of the parents are deceased. I'm going to give you an example of this with an additional marriage record, from the same page as the above marriage. In this record's highlighted boxes, you will find the names of the groom's parents: "néhai Szadai Mihály" and "néhai Nyakas Judit". The word "néhai" is Hungarian for "late" or "deceased". This means that each of the parents are deceased. You will sometimes see "néhai" written shortened as "néh." There's also the Latin variations: condam and quondam. You can find genealogical word lists for the following languages here: Hungarian and Latin.


  1. In your observation, how often did people tend to switch religions in early modern Hungary? To use this record as an example, if you looked in the Tiszadada Reformed baptismal records for the decades before this wedding to find Ferencz's baptism but didn't find it, would you next prioritize looking in the Reformed records in the surrounding towns or would you next look in the Evangelical (or other religion) records in Tiszadada?

  2. Laura: Most people didn't so much switch/convert religions. It was very common for there to be mixed-religious marriages; a very common example were Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic. There were some cases where the couple would decide in what religion to raise their children, but more often than not the religion for the children were decided upon their gender: males were baptized in the father's church, females baptized in the mother's church.

    As for Ferencz' baptism, if it were not to be found in the Reformed parish of Tiszadada, you would continue to check the surrounding Reformed parishes; you wouldn't move onto a different religion, such as Evangelical. It would state on the marriage record, if the groom/bride was of a different religion other than the specific church they were being married in. Evangelical was a completely different religion than Reformed in Hungary, so the groom or bride would have been noted as such. It was ALWAYS mentioned if they were of a different religion; that was very important back then.

  3. Very interesting. Thank you!

  4. Is there online access to check Hungarian Marriage records? Where would I look?

    1. There isn't any definite source for marriage records yet, although my website Hungary Exchange has been indexing marriages and are seeking volunteers. MACSE also has marriages indexed, but they're only civil registration (post 1895).

  5. Nick, your blog and site both have a wealth of information! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge!!


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