Linn and Egle transcribed the marriage records of the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, publishing them in 1880. This publication was in two volumes, the first of which covered the period 1702 to 1746, and the second from 1760 to 1803 (not examined here). The fourteen year gap is probably related to the "New Side-Old Side" schism that resulted in the separation of the congregation into two factions, workshipping in separate churches. The two churches were reunited about 1760.
Linn and Egle transcribed over 1700 marriages for the 1702 to 1746 period, providing data on the DOM, the husbands name, and the wife name. In some instances additional information is included, such as where the parties were living prior to marriage, but this is uncommon. A good transcription of these data is available at USGenWeb Archives, and is not repeated here. This article makes use of the Linn and Egle data presented in the USGenWebArchives to assess a number of questions concerning the marriages that occurred at this church, and also concerning the accuracy of the Linn and Egle transcriptions.
Linn and Egle provide data on the day, month, and year of marriage for 1700+ marriages. These data have been examined to determine the distribution of marriages through the course of a year during the 40+ years span of records contained in volume 1. The following table summarizes these results. The adjacent graphic display of these data is based on the average per month.
Economically, harvest time of late summer-early fall is probably a period when people are the most hopeful, and their view of the future is the most positive. The crops were being brought in, and laid up for the winter, and you could tell then better than anytime what your prospects would be for the immediate future. All in all, in an agarian society, later summer and early fall would be a good time to marry.
For many, the promise of America was the opportunity to acquire land and become self sufficient. Children of earlier settlers, particularly the older children, would want to move on to take advantage of the available opportunities. New emigrants would need some time to get an understanding of what opportunities were available. In all cases, they had to solve a complex problem, weighing factors such as
To my way of thinking that last question has a lot of implications for what we see in the seasonal cycle of marriages. From a purely mechanical point of view, you probably wanted to
Those two considerations alone would give you a very narrow period of time between when you could leave, and when you needed to arrive. Basically, if you were moving on, the time to go was October. And for young folk looking to marry, their marrying needed to be done before they left. Parents wanted to see their children successfully established before they left home, children wanted to choose now, when their choices were much better. From this perspective, its not surprizing to see a peak in marriages in September and October.
A plot of the number of marriages recorded each year at the First Presbyterian Church shows a constant marriage rate over the first decade of the record. A typical year during this 1702-1714 period typically shows a half dozen marriages. This begins to change about 1717 when 16 marriages were performed. Thereafter, there is a steady increase in the marriage rate, until it peaks in 1745 at 140 marriages per year. While the overall trend is clearly upward, significant fluctuations can be noted in some years (marked in red). Drop-offs in marriages are particularly noteworthy in the years 1728, 1739, and 1746.
A portion of the weddings recorded at First Presbyterian during these years undoubtedly represent marriages between established members of the churches congregation. That is, some of the men and women being wed are probably the children of existing members of the congregation. However, the rapid increase after 1714 would probably reflect an influx of immigrants arriving in Philadelphia. In many cases it seems likely that these immigrants are preparing to move inland to take up newly available lands. Where they moved would depend greatly on when they arrived, and the lands available at the time they left the area. Thus, a couple wedding about 1716 might have to go no further than the outskirts of Philadelphia to find suitable land. Those arriving in the 1720's would have to go further afield, perhaps to the area that would become Lancaster County. Subsequent arrivals would have to travel successively further and further away from Philadelphia. It is hoped that eventually the data being collected on WeRelate can be used to evaluate where these couples eventually settled.
ForwardThese data were originally extracted from the First Presbyterian Church records by Linn and Egle and published about 1880. Their work was later transcribed by Optical Character Recognition software applied by Joe Patterson and proofread by Judy Banja. The resulting product was placed in th USGenWeb Archives.
The Patterson-Banja Transcriptions have been used for the current analysis. The original Linn and Egle transcriptions have not been directly examined. Their transcriptions used a double entry system common to transcriptions of marriage records. That is, they entered a complete set of marriage records first under the husbands surname, and second under the wife's surname. This facilitated "look-ups" in an era when electronic searching used to day was unknown. The net result of this approach was that each marriage record was entered twice, onece under the husband and once under the wife. A quick comparison of some of these records, looking at differences between entries for the husband and wife, suggested that Linn and Egle did NOT simply transcribe these records once, then reordered their initial transcription. Rather, they seem to have performed two entirely separate transcriptions, first for the husband, then for the wife. This approach allows us to make an assessment of the accuracy of their transcriptions. In theory, the entries under the husbands name should be identical to those under the wife's name, other than for the fact that the data sequence has been reordered.
Technically, since we are using the Patterson-Banja transcriptions of the original Linn and Egle Transcriptions, the end product includes both any errors made by Linn and Egle, and any subsequent errors made by Patterson-Banja. The resulting product presented in the USGenWebArchives undoubtedly contains a mixture of errors arising from both transcriptions. Nonetheless, the nature of the errors detected suggests that the Patterson-Banja transcription quite accurately reflects what was in the Linn-Egle transcription, and introduces very few errors on its own. To examine this point a side by side comparison of the two transcriptions would be needed. For the moment, we are assuming that any errors detected are most likely embedded in the original Linn-Egle Transcription.
Method This analysis was performed using a spread-sheet comparison of the records for husbands and wives contained in the Patterson-Banja Transcription. this involved several steps.
Results The results obtained from this analysis are presented below, first for a comparison of names, then for dates.