Tag Archives: GRO

Have I reached the end of the trail with Mercy TROWER?

13 Jan

The death certificate for Mercy STEADMAN (née TROWER) has arrived from the GRO and it has failed to provide the answer that I had hoped for. If anything it caused a bit of confusion, until I actually figured out what was going on.

The reason for ordering a copy of the certificate was to try and find the name of Mercy’s husband. Under the occupation heading it should have told me that she was a widow and given her ex-husband’s name.

Unfortunately the informant who registered the death didn’t know what her husband’s name was, so all I have is Widow of — Steadman Occupation unknown. Not very helpful to say the least.

It hadn’t occurred to me that because Mercy’s husband had died before 1891, there would be a good chance that whoever registered the death, possibly four decades later, probably never knew who Mercy’s husband was.

The confusion came from the place of death, 2 Upper Shoreham Road, Kingston-by-Sea. This wasn’t the same as her address that was also given on the death certificate (97 Wellington Road, Portslade-by-Sea).

The key to this puzzle is the Steyning Union Workhouse. It appears that the address of the workhouse was 2 Upper Shoreham Road, and the informant who registered the death was H[orace] W[alter] Cawcutt, the master of the Steyning Poor Law Institution.

I know that when Mercy died in 1929 her estate was valued at £404 12s 2d, so she wasn’t exactly a pauper, so my guess is that she was in the workhouse due to ill health (the workhouse would later become part of Southlands Hospital).

So I didn’t find out who Mercy’s husband was, but I haven’t quite given up hope of finding out his name. Records from the Steyning Union Workhouse are apparently held at the East Sussex Record Office, including admission and death registers, there may be a clue held within their pages.

GRO Death Index now complete on Ancestry.co.uk

1 Dec

This morning before work I spotted on their Recent Genealogy Databases page that Ancestry had updated the England & Wales, Death Index: 1984-2005. When I clicked on the link it took me to the search page for the 1984-2005 Death Index, but when I searched for the surname GASSON it came up with lots of entries, not just the 1984-2005 date range.

The search results pages shows that the index now covers 1916 to 2005. Like they have previously done with the births and marriages, Ancestry have now made the entire GRO Death Index searchable by name and linked to the page images (with the help of FreeBMD for the earlier ones). They just haven’t made it very obvious yet!

This is fantastic news for those of us with English and Welsh ancestry, what was previously a long search through the indexes, page by page, quarter by quarter, year by year, can now be done in a matter of seconds.

I didn’t have much time to try it out, but my first thought was try and find the death of Moses FARLOW, my great-grandmother’s second husband. This is quite a typical situation, you know a rough date (1940s or 50s) and you have an idea of the location (somewhere in the Chichester, Sussex area) where the event occurred.

Until now it would mean searching all the FARLOWs for a range of years until you find a match, so for an uncommon name like FARLOW that is four pages a year (one for each quarter) for however many years it takes. With the new index I was able to find his entry in a matter of seconds and easily check the image. For the record Moses died Q4 1946 in Chichester Registration District.

This early Christmas present from Ancestry is going to help me “kill off” a lot of people in my tree, for which I have not had the time to search for manually before now. My efforts to extract all GASSON and TROWER entries were put on hold last year, once it became obvious that Ancestry were going to index the whole lot and I only needed to wait a little bit longer.

If you have trouble finding the Death Index, just head for the 1984-2005 link and search from there. Despite what the pages may say, it will probably actually be the 1916-2005 index, alternatively just click here. I am sure Ancestry will get their titles sorted out in a couple of days. In the meantime get in there quick before everyone else realises!

Another certificate ordered in the search for the SHORNDEN/WRIGHT family

26 Oct

I have just ordered the marriage certificate for Henry SHORNDEN and Sarah LAY. I decided that it would be far easier and quicker to sit and wait for the certificate to come to me, than go out trying to find a copy of the entry in the parish register.

I am hoping that this certificate will confirm that the Henry SHORNDEN I found in the Ospringe, Kent baptism register, son of William and Ann SHORNDEN, is the same one that ended up in Alton, Hampshire.

More importantly I should give me the name of Sarah’s father, which may just be enough to enable me to find her baptism, and then both of her parents. I really have no idea where Sarah came from, as most census entries for her give a different place of birth.

Now I just need to sit back and wait, I can’t really do much more on that part of my tree without that certificate. I can’t help but wonder what further surprises it is going to turn up!

Have I found the marriage of Henry SHORNDEN and Sarah LAY?

25 Oct

Having just discovered the maiden name of Henry SHORNDEN’s wife, the next step was to use this information to try and find a marriage for Henry SHORNDEN and Sarah LAY.

It didn’t take long to find a likely marriage in the GRO BMD marriage index, the problem is that it shouldn’t have been in the marriage index.

Both Henry SHORNDEN and Sarah LAY were amongst those individuals married in Q4 1840 in the Gravesend Registration District. The International Genealogical Index has an entry for the marriage, which confirms that they were married to each other on the 25th December 1840 at Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Milton by Gravesend, Kent.

The problem is that according to the 1851 census there were two children born before the 25th December 1840, including my 2x great grandmother Harriet.

This raises several questions, such as it this the correct marriage? If it is then were the two children’s parents Henry and Sarah, or was one of them married previously? There are many possibilities, the two children may even be adopted.

The next step will be to check the marriage details, and see if I confirm that this is the correct marriage. Probably the easiest way to do this will be to order the marriage certificate, but I could also try and get hold of a copy of the marriage register entry.

Ordering two birth certificates for my Christmas Tree Project

8 Oct

Last night I ordered two birth certificates from the GRO as part of my Christmas Tree Project. Both were in an attempt to find the maiden names of two of my 4x great grandmothers.

The first was for William GEERING, my 3x great grandfather (who may or may not have married Ellen NICHOLLS). His birth was registered in the Lewes Registration District in Q3 1843. I am sure it is the right William GEERING because I have his baptism in Lewes around the same time.

The only problem with this one was reading the page reference, it looks like 383 to me, but that middle number is not clear. I am expecting that it will show his mother’s maiden name as RICHARDSON, as that is the closest match I can find for a marriage between Richard GEERING and Eliza.

The marriage took place in Brighton on the 7th June 1829. To be honest if the marriage was in Lewes, Sussex I would probably have accepted it, but Brighton is just that bit further away so I want to be certain.

The second certificate is for Alfred George MITCHELL, he was the younger brother of my 3x great grandmother Harriet MITCHELL. His birth was registered in the Cuckfield Registration District in Q1 1841.

I wouldn’t normally bother with getting the birth certificates for siblings of my ancestors, unless I was doing an in depth study of the family, but Harriet was born three or four years before the start of civil registration in 1837. Annoyingly I already have the birth date for Alfred George MITCHELL from his baptism record, but he was the easiest of Harriet’s brothers and sisters to locate in the indexes.

I am expecting this one to show that his mother’s maiden name was SMITH. My heart sank when I was searching for possible marriages and found the most likely one was between George MITCHELL and Mary SMITH in Cuckfield, Sussex on the 29th September 1828.

I suppose it inevitable that I would come across a SMITH in my direct ancestry eventually, I just hope there weren’t too many SMITHs in that part of Sussex at that time.

Another birth certificate arrives, but doesn’t really help

18 Sep

Great excitement usually accompanies the arrival of certificate from the GRO (well at least for me anyway) and today was no exception. The envelope contained the birth certificate for William GEERING my 2x great grandfather.

William was born in Lewes, Sussex in 1868 that much I knew already, more precisely it was on the 24th August 1868 in Sun Street, Lewes. Sun Street is an address I hadn’t come across before in my research, but apart from the exact date and place the reason I wanted this certificate was to find out his mother’s name/maiden name.

I had previously been unable to locate a marriage in the GRO Indexes for William’s parents, and with a name like GEERING it should have been easy. I hoped that having his mother’s maiden name would help in the search, but so far it hasn’t.

In the space for the mother’s name it says Ellen Geering formerly Nicholls. I am pretty certain it says NICHOLLS, it would take quite a stretch of the imagination to make it anything else. So this implies that William’s father (also William) had married Ellen NICHOLLS, but still no entry in the marriage index is forthcoming.

I switched to the census, perhaps I could find Ellen NICHOLLS in the 1861 census (her future husband was unmarried in 1861) but nothing obvious stands out. There is one possible hit in 1851, but that is not really in the right area.

I tried the GRO Birth Index, and again no Ellen NICHOLLS in the right place or time frame, this really is starting to look very mysterious. The 1871, 1881 and 1891 census all give her place of birth as Chiddingstone, Kent and her age is pretty consistent, giving her year of birth around 1848.

So what has gone wrong here? Why is Ellen causing me such a problem? At least I have a maiden name now, but it is a maiden name that I don’t feel I can trust, at least not until I see it in writing somewhere else.

So what next? I need to widen all my searches on both the census and the GRO Indexes, in case one of the pieces of information is wrong and try some different census indexes. I need to visit the East Sussex Record Office and search the parish registers for a marriage entry (maybe it missed the GRO Indexes) and also for any sign of banns for the husband because I am sure he would have been in Lewes.

Such a disappointment to not have all the pieces fit into place, this looks like it could be a major obstacle to finding all my 4x great grandparents. Then again I wouldn’t want things too easy, would I?

GRO marriage index now fully transcribed on ancestry.co.uk

3 Jul

I went on the ancestry.co.uk site last night to check the GRO index reference for the death certificate of Henry Herbert HEMSLEY (see my post about our mini-heatwave) and discovered that they have now transcribed all the GRO marriage index as well.

I wasn’t supposed to be doing any new research at the moment, just tidying up some of the stuff I have already done, but this is going to help answer some of my queries with tracing some of my more recent relations such as second and third cousins. I am just glad that the weekend is approaching fast.

Like they have previously done with the birth index, the marriage index is now in two separate sections, 1837-1915 (transcribed by FreeBMD) and 1916-2005 (transcribed by Ancestry), although previously 1984 to 2005 was already searchable by name.

In my opinion the GRO BMD indexes on ancestry.co.uk are proving to be one of the most valuable databases on the whole site. They provide a quick and easy (although not cheap at £7.00 a certificate) way to access information for a period (1915 to 2005) where there is virtually no other information readily available to the general public.

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