Research Tip of the Week

Civil Registration

Civil registration is a double edged sword. We are always delighted when our searches fall in to the time when we might find a birth, marriage or death for our ancestors. These records can often lead us to new learnings about our ancestors.

Finding the correct civil record for ‘our’ ancestors can often be a frustrating, time consuming, costly but, ultimately, worthwhile experience. We might confirm our ancestor’s occupation as say, a soldier, at a given point in time. If we find a birth, say in the early 1900s, and the father’s occupation is other than a soldier, we might know that our ancestor may only have enlisted after that time.

If we have ‘clustering ‘of families of the same name in the one area, then identifying the likely record from online indexes can present considerable challenges. Until the mother’s maiden name appears on the General Register Office indexes, we cannot know if a particular birth is the one we seek. This may involve purchasing multiple records at the General Register Office, making our pursuit an expensive one.

Finding marriages is less of a roll of the dice, as we have two parties to match up, in the same time and place, increasing our chances of getting the correct record. Using the marriage matcher on findmypast, we should see the two known parties to the marriage before we purchase. It can happen that the two parties on an index did not in fact marry each other, and we have to rethink our search. This can lead us down very interesting byways, leading us to consider the possibility that our ancestors did not in fact marry each other. Which gives us an entirely different perspective on our family’s history.

Expert Research

Carmel Gilbride

carmel gilbride


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