Brigid - not all Jews were able to marry in a synagogue in 19th century England. The archivist at Beth Din (Rabbinical Court) explained it thus:
To marry in a Orthodox Synagogue one needs the Chief Rabbi's permission (authorisation). To get that one must prove one is Jewish. One proves one is Jewish by presenting one's own parents' ketubah (marriage contract). This proves one is a result of a Jewish union. But therein lay the problem. If one had fled one's home country one might not have access to one's parents' ketubah. So, the Chief Rabbi would decline his authorisation. He was VERY strict about it, there was no arguing or having people vouch for you; without that ketubah you could forget it! So, without his authorisation no approved minister would perform a Jewish marriage. Some couples went to the registrar or even a parish church, but some thought that being married by any Rabbi (authorised or not) was what should happen. So, a clandestine marriage was performed. An unauthorised (though probably perfectly bona fide) Rabbi would perform the ceremony. In the eyes of God the couple were legally married, but in the eyes of the law, they were not. No records of these marriages were ever made. Years later the couple would sometimes have a second marriage for the sake of their children, either at the registry office or in a church. Others probably never bothered.
This phenomenon, known as stille chuppah - silent canopy, occurred as long as the Adlers (father, then son) were the Chief Rabbis, which was from 1844 to 1911.
Justin, this is fascinating; thank you.
I have the case of a woman who was married at the New Synagogue in London in 1855 -- but her mother might not have been Jewish (her father definitely was).
At the time of their marriage in 1855, this woman and her husband had already been together for over 10 years, and had started having children circa 1844.
I wondered why they would have waited so long to have gotten married (neither had been married before) and speculated that she might have had to convert in order to be married in a synagogue.
All I have is the civil record from the GRO; my cousin (their descendant) does not have a copy of their ketubah. The GRO record states that they were married at the New Synagogue by I.L. Lindenthal.
We'll probably never have the answer, but you've added some interesting context, so thanks again!
P.S. Modified to add that we don't know where the groom's parents were from (the groom was born in London). The bride's parents were both born in England.