Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Banns, a publication or edict whereby something is commanded to be done or forbidden. It is more particularly applicable to notices of intended marriages. By the statute 4 Geo. IV. c. 76 they are to be published in an audible manner in the parish church, or in some public chapel of or belonging to such parish, wherein the persons about to be married shall dwell - according to the form prescribed by the rubric prefixed to the "Office of Matrimony" in the Book of Common Prayer - upon three Sundays preceding the solemnisation of the marriage, during the time of morning service - or of evening service if there shall be no morning service in such church or chapel upon the Sunday upon which such banns shall be so published - immediately after the reading of the second lesson. But by a licence from the spiritual judge, or a registered certificate, the above formalities may be dispensed with. If persons be married without either publication of banns or licence, the marriage will be void and the officiating minister liable to penal servitude. If the marriage does not take place within three months after publication of the banns, the marriage shall not take place until the banns shall have been republished on three several Sundays, unless it be a marriage by licence or certificate, which two latter alternatives, however, must be acted upon within the three months. A clergyman refusing, without adequate cause, to perform the ceremony is liable to an action. In Scotland the law is different as to the effect of non-publication of banns. Marriage in Scotland without publication of banns is valid. In the United States banns have been almost entirely superseded by the marriage licence; in some States even this is not necessary. Each State has entire authority and jurisdiction over its own citizens on the subject of marriage.