The Purveyors of Marriage Licenses

Purveyors of Marriage Licenses in Windsor and Sandwich in the Early 20th Century

In the mid to late nineteenth centuries, it was primarily the municipal clerks who issued marriage licenses. However, with the increased demand, more marriage license issuers were appointed and it became a lucrative side venture for a number of Windsor small businessmen. In the early twentieth century, most of the purveyors of marriage licenses were liberals, but this changed when the conservatives came to power in 1905. Not only did they receive a $2 fee for the license itself, but they were also in a good position to sell wedding related products and services, such as wedding rings. Some even offered rooms on their premises for the marriage ceremony itself. In later years, many could make a living just from the marriage license business. According to an article in the Detroit Free Press: “ the investment was small and the profits 900%” (1906: July 15, p. 16)



A selection of marriage license issuers:

Bartlett, Alexander          town clerk for Windsor; 20 Ferry Street

Copeland, George E.        books, stationery, agent for G.N.W. Tel. Co.;  3 Sandwich Street West

Davidson, Andrew W.      agent for Massey Harris; later just marriage licenses; 2 Ouellette Avenue

Drake, J. W.                       furniture and upholsterers;  11 Sandwich Street West

Holland, Richard A.          dry goods, clothing, footwear, real estate; 22-24 Devonshire Road (Walkerville)

Lawson, Edward               grocer;  71 McDougall Street

Learoyd, Alfred D.            merchant tailor/clothier;  27 Sandwich Street East

Marentette, Victor E.      books, stationery, postcards;  15 Ouellette Avenue

Neal, Frederick                 insurance, publisher, county constable, sexton of St. John’s Church; east side of Bedford Street, 6 buildings south of Mill Street (Sandwich)

Oliver, James                     real estate; money lender, insurance, conveyancer; 2 Ouellette Avenue

Robinson, Cecil H.            town clerk for Walkerville; 83 Sandwich Street East (Walkerville)

Templeton, James            barrister;  40 Ouellette Avenue (Curry Block)


Sources of information: Windsor city directories, newspaper articles, e.g. Evening Record: 1905: June 7, p.1, Vital Statistics reports for 1905 (p. 7) and 1908 (p. 8)



Prev Next