The study is based on an analysis of marriage licences that were drawn up among the rural population on the estate of Trebon in the late 18th and early the 19th century. One of the main aims of the study was to test the use of this source in historical research and also to acquire an idea of the influence of the family and rural society on a person's choice of marriage partner. The marriage licenses analysed in the study, like wills, convey something of the collective mentality that was characteristic of the society under observation and reveal the everyday life of specific individuals. In previous centuries the entire family had engaged in choosing a person's marriage partner and even other members of the village community indirectly influenced this choice. An important role was played by 'friends', that is, people from the immediate surroundings, who served as a form of social control, and through their 'friendship' legitimised the position of the marrying partners. If a person chose an inappropriate partner they risked losing their 'friends', and future life in the village would be considerably more difficult and circumscribed.