Tag Archives: marriage certificate

Why should I be bothered about those two strangers at my great-grandmother’s wedding?

28 Jan

The widowed Kate Allison had returned to Uckfield Registration District sometime between the death of her husband Robert Cecil Allison in 1914 and the birth (and death) of an illegitimate daughter Georgina in 1916.

This pretty much confirmed that she was my 2x great-aunt, but the final confirmation came when I looked back at the marriage certificate of my great-grandmother Minnie Driver. Four years after the death of her first husband (my great-grandfather Henry Herbert Hemsley) Minnie re-married Robert Farlow in High Hurstwood, Sussex.

Just under four years ago I ordered a copy of their marriage certificate to confirm some details and make sure that I had the right husband (Moses Farlow). When I looked again at the certificate I realised that I had undeniable proof that Kate Allison was my 2x great-aunt.

Until I had started on this search for my grandmother’s “adopted” sister the two witnesses were unknown to me, and to be honest they weren’t that important to me. I mean why should I be bothered about those two strangers at my great-grandmother’s wedding?

Actually that is not strictly true, I knew I should try to find out who they were, but they were a low priority. Four years ago there were plenty more important people to work on and fewer records online, so they never really got the attention they deserved.

Of course the importance of the two witnesses should not be measured by the importance they have to me (are they my relations?) but by the importance that they had to my relatives.

I am sure you can guess where I am going with this, one of the witnesses on the marriage certificate was Kate’s daughter, Minnie Gladys Allison the adopted “sister” I had been searching for along.

Her name had been sitting in my records all along, it felt like I had gone full circle, but without making that journey I probably wouldn’t have realised the significance of the name on the marriage certificate.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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The marriage certificate of Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER

1 Apr

The marriage certificate of Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER arrived last Saturday whilst I was enjoying myself at Haywards Heath and to be honest I was a little disappointed by the result.

Most of what I knew was correct, the date was the 21st March 1840 not the 15th as I had expected, but that was really the important bit.  The important information was the name of the bride and groom’s fathers.

From the census I already knew Martha’s father was George DRAPPER (the certificate confirmed this) but it was Thomas’ father I was most interested in. He was named as James NICHOLLS, a labourer. This was a bit of a set back because I was hoping it was going to be Joshua. I had found a very likely looking baptism for Thomas (and several other siblings) in Blean, Kent but his parents were Joshua and Mary NICHOLLS.

Of course it is always possible that the marriage certificate was wrong, possible but unlikely. Unfortunately this little project is not working out quite as nicely as I had hoped.

I really need to find out a more exact birth date for Thomas. All I have at the moment is the 1841 census where he is recorded as 20 years old, but this may or may not have been rounded down correctly. The marriage certificate just gives both bride and groom as being of full age.

The next step is to investigate Thomas’ death, to pinpoint the date of his death and how old he was when he died and if I am “lucky” there might also be an interesting cause of death to follow-up.

Australia Day 2011: The marriage certificate of William Joseph Henry BATEMAN and a mystery solved

26 Jan

To celebrate Australia Day Shelley from the Twigs of Yore blog has issued a challenge to write about an Australian ancestor or relative, you can read the full details here.

As I have no Australian ancestors and to my knowledge only one of my direct ancestors ever set foot on Australian soil (and that was only for about week in the 1920s), it meant that my earliest relation with an Australian connection was William Joseph Henry BATEMAN (my 2x great-uncle). I have already written much about his life and my research, but I haven’t really discussed the earliest record I have for him in Australia, which would be his marriage certificate from the 22nd April 1905.

It took me a while to find this record, I knew that William had ended up in Australia (having been born in Brighton, Sussex, England in 1882) and had a family there, but had not been able to find a record of him actually travelling to Australia and didn’t even know when he had arrived in Australia, except if was after 1891 because he was still at home in the census that year. The marriage certificate not only gave me details of his wife and the marriage itself, but also solved the mystery of his arrival in Australia.

I downloaded the certificate from The Victorian Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages website, having used the Electoral Rolls on Ancestry.com.au to narrow down the state and discover his wife’s christian name. I must admit I found the process of searching for the marriage to be somewhat awkward and clunky, and the end result was rather disappointing as the quality of the downloaded image left a lot to be desired, but at least I had a copy.

Eventually I was able to work out all the details (and there was more detail than on an English marriage certificate), confirm that this was the right man and solve the mystery of his arrival in Australia. His occupation was seaman and his residence was H.M.S. Katoomba, a Royal Navy vessel. His naval record confirmed that William had served in the navy and when his service came to an end he was in Australia. No wonder I couldn’t find him on any passenger lists.

But back to the marriage itself. It took place in Geelong, Victoria at the Parsonage, in Yarra Street. The ceremony was conducted by William Williams a Methodist Minister according to the rites of the Methodist Church. At the time of their marriage William was a 23 year old bachelor and his wife Annie Clark BALL was a 24 year old widow with one child from her previous marriage, living in Moorabool Street, Geelong.

Although the certificate was not much to look at it did this solve one mystery and provided plenty of avenues for future research (most of which I haven’t pursued yet) in their married life, Annie’s previous marriage and William’s naval service. Perhaps one day I get to visit Australia and will find myself wandering around the streets of Geelong.

Ordering two BATEMAN certificates

9 Aug

Last night I ordered two certificates for my BATEMAN research, this is the first time since the price increase that I have ordered any, not really because of the price increase but because there weren’t any that I needed, now I have settled on two that I feel will help my research.

Birth certificate of William Joseph Henry BATEMAN

Although I have no doubts about who his parents were or where he was born, I would like to find out exactly where William was born. I know it was Brighton, Sussex, but even back in the 1880s that covered a wide area and several parishes.

If I can find the address, which was almost certainly his parent’s home then I should be able to find which parish they were living in, which should lead to a baptism record. If I can find William’s baptism then I will probably be able to find those of his two siblings who died as infants (and possibly their burials), thus saving me the cost of more certificates (or the possibility of ordering the wrong ones).

Marriage certificate of Henry BATEMAN and Dorothy Isabella KINGHORN

I already know roughly when my 2x great-grandparents married, it was Q4 1881, and I know it was in the Brighton Registration District, but once again I would like to find out some exact details. Once I know the parish I can look for baptisms of their children, because it might not be the same as that of William’s baptism.

There shouldn’t be any surprises with this certificate and the only new piece of information should be their address or addresses. I suspect they were probably already living together having both moved from Spratton in Northamptonshire, presumably when Dorothy became pregnant.

Both certificates should give me somewhere else to visit in Brighton and photograph. I already have one address in Preston (on the outskirts of Brighton) for them, 19 Yardley Street, so it will be good to be able expand my knowledge of their time in Brighton a little bit more.

GRO certificate price rise

2 Mar

I suppose it had to happen, I have always thought that £7 a certificate was remarkable value, in fact too good to true.

As has already been noted by various bloggers and on mailing lists, the GRO have announced a restructuring of their charges. This has simplified the range of price options, but also means a price increase in most cases.

Instead of spending £7 per certificate it will now cost me £9.25 and I suppose that is still quite good value, but no one likes having to pay more for the same service, myself included.

I can’t help wondering if we are going to be paying for the failure of the digitisation project, and I wonder whether if the project had been completed on time and within budget, this increase might not have been necessary.

I have to be realistic though and accept that as the press release says "GRO certificate services are self-financing and costs must be recovered to ensure taxpayers do not subsidise them". As a taxpayer I feel that I am certainly getting my money’s worth by making use of libraries and archives.

So, what will this mean to me?

I don’t think I will be rushing to get any extra orders in before the 6th April 2010. What will probably happen however is that instead of limiting myself to three certificates a month, I shall probably limit myself to two certificates a month after April.

I am in the fortunate situation that at the moment that I don’t think there are any certificates I actually need. Recently the certificates I have been ordering have been solving specific problems with relations rather than direct ancestors.

Also I am fortunate that I don’t feel the need to find exact birth, marriage and death dates for all my ancestors. I know that before 1837 I am probably not going to get an exact date anyway.

What effect will this price rise have on your research? Will you try and get your orders in before the 6th April? Will you order fewer certificates or carry on as normal?

Ernest John TROWER’s marriage certificate

19 Feb

Of the three certificates I ordered this month this was the most eagerly anticipated and ultimately the most disappointing.

I wanted the certificate for two reasons, the primary reason being to see if Ernest’s father’s name was given. The secondary reason was to try and find out a few more details about his wife.

The disappointment comes from the fact that Ernest’s father was not named (nor was there an occupation for him). It felt like another door had been slammed in my face.

Ernest John TROWER married Emma Phyllis WILDING on the 8th March 1913 at the parish church in West Grinstead, Sussex (see my post about church postcards for an image of the church).

Ernest was a farm labourer from Sands Farm, West Grinstead and Emma was from Patcham, Sussex (just outside Brighton). Her father George was a cab proprietor.

At least I can probably fill in some details on Emma now, but I still have no idea who Ernest’s father was, and more importantly who might have married Mercy TROWER.

I really am running out of options for finding Ernest’s father. I don’t think there are any surviving descendants of Ernest and Emma that I can ask. I need to check again for a baptism record, possibly a WW1 service record (although I have already looked once), the only other record I can think of that might mention his father is a school admission record.

February GRO certificate order

3 Feb

Birth, marriage and death certificates are one of the key sources in English family history, but are also one of the most expensive as well. At £7 a certificate, a genealogist on a budget (like me) can’t afford as many as they would like.

I try and ration myself to just three certificates a month, so I need to make sure they are not only the correct ones (my relations, not someone else’s), but also that they are going to benefit my research more than just providing an exact date of birth or cause of death.

After some careful thought this month’s lucky winners have been selected:

  • BIRTH – Walter Henry BOXALL (Q2 1897)

Walter Henry BOXALL is one of the orphans in my database, he is described in the 1901 census as the grandson of my 2x great-grandparents James and Caroline BOXALL, but there is no indication of his parents.

Tragically his life was cut short by the First World War. Interestingly his birth was registered in Wales, not Sussex, where I would have expected it. I really would like to be able to correctly place him in my family tree and try to piece together the reason why he was in born in Wales.

  • MARRIAGE – Ernest John TROWER and Emma P WILDING (Q1 1913)

Ernest John TROWER was the son of Mercy TROWER, who should need no introduction by now. I am hoping that the marriage certificate will identify his father, whose identity has so far remained a mystery. This may give me a clue to the identity of Mercy’s husband.

Interestingly I cannot find any details of Emma WILDING. I was hoping I could find out where she came from so that I might find a record of their marriage locally, but so far she has remained elusive.

  • DEATH – Jane K TROWER (Q4 1922)

Jane TROWER is another daughter of Henry and Jane TROWER, making her the sister of Mercy TROWER, she was my 3x great-aunt. There is a large gap in my knowledge of her life between the 1881 census and her death in 1922 and burial in Henfield, Sussex.

I am hoping that her death certificate will give me a few clues, at least it should tell me where she was living, and the identity of the informant might give me another clue. Even the cause of death may help me identify where she had been hiding.

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