Protestants wishing to obtain a marriage license without having banns read in the parish church were required to place a bond with the bishop of their diocese. The original licenses and bonds were destroyed in 1922, but the indexes survived.
People listed in the bonds usually were moneyed Protestants and some Catholics. Depending on the cost of the bond, other classes of Protestants may be included.
The Marriage Bonds Indexes are very straightforward. They are divided by diocese and list only the name of the groom and the bride, along with the year. Remember that diocese boundaries frequently crossed county boundaries. To use these indexes, maps such as those from Brian Mitchell’s A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland (2002) are essential tools, as they show the boundaries of the dioceses. Some of the diocesan indexes have been indexed online or published.
The records are at the National Archives of Ireland and on microfilm at the Family History Library. The FHL numbers are as follows:
Armagh (1727-1845) 100859-60
Cashel & Emily (1664-1857) 100860
Clogher (1709-1866) 100862
Cloyne (1630-1866) 100863
Cork & Ross (1623-1750) 100864-66
Down, Connor, Dromore (1721-1845) 100867
Dublin (1672-1845) 100867
Kildare (1790-1865) 100868
Elphin (1709-1845) 100868
Anchonry & Killala (1787-1842) 100868
Killaloe (1718-1845) 100869
Clonfert (1739, 1815-1844) 100869
Limerick (1827, 1833, 1844 100869
Kilmore & Ardagh (1697-1844) 100869
Meath (1655, 1702-1845) 100869
Ossory, Ferns and Leighlin (1691-1845) 100870-71
Raphoe (1710-55, 1817-30) 100871
Tuam (1769-1845) 100871
Waterford & Lismore (1649-1845) 100872
Lismore Peculiar Jurisdiction (1779-1802) 100872
If you find your ancestor in these indexes, then you have an indication of their social status. Perhaps most important is that if you didn’t know where in Ireland they were from, then now you at least know a diocese. This opens up other records to continue your search.