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Birth certificates etc - do I need to shell out £7 each time or is there another way?

(16 Posts)
Catz Mon 07-Jul-08 21:42:55

Apologies as this is probably a very stupid beginner's question but I'm just getting started on tracing my family tree and it looks potentially extremely expensive...

I've signed up to the 14 day free trial on ancestry and found lots of census records and index entries for probable births, deaths and marriages. To go further I think I need the actual certificates to check I've got the right person and to find out the mother's maiden name etc. Is there any way of doing this aside from ordering the certificates from the GRO for £7 a time? That's quickly going to become very expensive, especially as all of my ancestors seemed intent on marrying people with really common surnames so there's quite a few records where there are 2 or 3 likely matches. Do I just have to shell out if I want to take it further or can I go and search for this information (especially mother's maiden name) elsewhere?

Thanks for any suggestions

Mercy Tue 08-Jul-08 13:16:07

Tbh I have spent very little money on certificates.

It's possible to find out maiden names by searching for marriage records or cross checking with other sites. I sometimes make a guess as to the marriage date.

Who have you started with and how far back are you?

(btw I also subscribe to Ancestry and am more than happy to search a couple of names for you and then explain how I did it)

throckenholt Tue 08-Jul-08 13:25:44

depends how far back you are really. And as you say how common the names are.

If you check the indexes for births after about 1912 they give you the mothers maiden name. (try freebmd)

If you know of any other siblings you can usually home in the likely marriage date and go for that rather than the baptism.

It really depends - sorry that doesn't help.

If you get back to 1901 then census records can give clues. Sometimes siblings have the mother's maiden name as a second name.

If you get back beyond 1900 then other sources often kick in too - you may be lucky and it will have been indexed in freereg, or the igi (familysearch).

Try rootschat to ask if others have any info. Try genesreunited - costs about £5 per year - but you may be lucky and find someone who is looking for the same family (and loads that aren't ).

Catz Tue 08-Jul-08 21:55:23

Many thanks for the replies.

I've only started a few days ago, So far I've taken family memory/stories (I've 3 living grandparents) and checked it through ancestry to get census records etc. I've got definite information for 7 of my 8 great-great grandparents on my mum's side so that's about the 1850s. I've also got possible matches going back to about 1800 but I'm not absolutely sure of those.

I'm having problems finding the maiden names of those born in the 1850s and going back further than that. How would you go about finding a woman's maiden name if you have e.g. her census entry from 1881 showing her husband, children, birthplace and age?

Thanks for any advice and thanks Mercy for the offer of help.

Mercy Wed 09-Jul-08 09:38:04

OK, as throckenholt says one way is to guess a date of marriage from the age of the oldest child. For example, say your ancestor was aged 30 in the 1881 census with a 5 year old child, I would search the marriage index for the husband's name within a range of 5 or even 10 years, and within the county that they were born or resided in at the time of the census. The wife's maiden is often (but not always) on the part that says 'click to see others on the page'

Once you have found the maiden name you should be able to trace backwards using the census returns (which officially go back to 1841 but there are others available for various places if you search hard enough)

Hope that makes sense! If you are signed up for CAT then feel free to get in touch - or I'll give you my email if not.

Catz Wed 09-Jul-08 10:34:39

Thanks Mercy that's great. I've tried that on one of my great great grandparents and I think I've got the maiden name (within about a minute!). Will have to check it but that's very helpful.

One of the ones I'm looking at may well have a good few years between the first child and then the (later) least if family rumour and half-stories are anything to go by....

eidsvold Thu 10-Jul-08 00:25:35

catz - another thing on ancestry - go to the community section and you can put in a name on the section entitled

'search for member connections'

this actually links you to other people and if they have a public tree - you may find some family information that way. I found a whole other branch on my fil's side and was able to get him together with a cousin. YOu can also then check your information against that tree. Helpful for me as most of my relies are in the UK and as I am in Aus - the internet only does so much.

throckenholt Thu 10-Jul-08 09:34:16

if you have got back to the 1850s and before then try the IGI/familysearch - it isn't comprehensive but useful none the less.

Also try FreeREG - you may be lucky and your bit has been done.

If you are lucky yours will be uncommon names in small places so you don't have many candidates. Or you can have my lot who all have the same name as their cousins and have a penchant for hopping over county borders.

toadstool Sat 12-Jul-08 22:11:00

Method 1: Try chasing up unmarried siblings you find on censuses. I've done so several times, and I've found another branch of the family, often living close by. OK, these are often a married sister, but not always - they can lead you to uncles or grandparents who have the maiden name you're looking for.

Method 2: If you follow a census trail backwards (i.e. 1881, 1871, 1861), you might stumble across a whole group of people with one surname living with, or next door to, the relative you're chasing. These are usually the family of his wife, so they'll give you her maiden name.


Catz Thu 17-Jul-08 21:06:06

Thanks for the further replies (I've only just seen them).

I've followed some of the advice here and have managed to follow quite a few lines back to around 1800 (9 GGGG grandparents and 16 GGG grandparents) using the census data, family stories and birth/death/marriage indexes. I now need to go back and look at them in more detail, follow the lines I've not looked at and extend them.

I suppose the problem is that you can never completely 'prove' something. Quite a lot of my matches are based on marriage entries which fit likely names/dates/places from the census data. I suppose the actual certificates give you more information to test the fit and make it more reliable. I don't know what the usual standard is for how much evidence people have to back up their trees...

ivykaty44 Sat 19-Jul-08 11:26:04

Can I just give a little warning on guessing marriages and date.....

I met a chap in a record office about three months ago, we got chatting and he showed me the work he had done and where he was stuck - we sat in the tea room. This chap then had me and another chap help him for about an hour.

Upshot was the last 6 months of his work was actually not his ancestors they were not even related to him and he had traced them for all this time, spent money online finding them only to find out they wern't his. The reason being he had seen a marriage on free bmd and as the ladys name was unusual he asumed it was his ggggrandmother - only it wasn't and me and this ither chap could prove through a couple of other documents it wasn't.

Fine to guess/or not bother to order certificates but you may go of and trace someone else family *not * yours and what is the point of that.

Going back to original chap - his ggg grandmother was actually far more interesting than his guessed one from free bmd. His real grandmother when we searched was a bigamist!! and weaved an interesting trail wink

So moral is double check your information and do not assume that an unusal name that unusual or that because it looks like the same people it is.

For marriages and baptisms use and then get a copy of the page from the register - far cheaper than certificates. A marriage is a marriage and a copy from the register will cost around £3-4 rather than £7. You will need the dates to obtain one from the record office. A baptism will not give you the mothers maiden name but will give useful info.

Catz Tue 22-Jul-08 10:27:17

Thanks ivykaty - that's what I'm concerned about (although at the moment I'm mainly in the19th C so I've also got census data that confirms things and grandparents' memories of people plus info from their graves - things get more tricky further back than this I guess). I suppose you can always end up getting the wrong marriage certificate and launching off on that...!

Familysearch is quite limited in what is covered isn't it? I can't find an exact list of what's available but it seems fantastic on some parishes and nothing on others.

Sorry to sound ignorant but how do you get a copy from the register? Does it depend on the individual county?

eidsvold Fri 25-Jul-08 02:16:05

ivykate - i did that - had all sorts of trouble with my father's mother's side - she is a strange one. Thought I had finally found her birth - managed to find her marriage - ordered the certificate before I went any further and once I got the certificate - found out it was not the right one I had been tracing at all!!!!!

shrinkingsagpuss Fri 25-Jul-08 12:07:57

If you have the GRO index information - i.e - name, place of registration ,year, volume and page (all of which is available on BMD indexes) then you can order a certificate from the GRO. You just follow the links on Ancestry, or log direct on to the GRO website.

shrinkingsagpuss Fri 25-Jul-08 12:10:17

I am linked to a chap on Genes renitd, who has listed my husbands family as part of his...... which it isn't. No matter how many times I tell him he has made a msitake he is hving none of it. I know I'm right coz I have the certs to prove it. There were 2 M.Marsdens living at the same time, with saem year of birth in the same village. Mine is M.W, his is M.H, but he's having none of it!

ivykaty44 Sun 24-Aug-08 17:02:19

Familysearch is not a complete index

Some counties are well covered and other counties are rather porr - this was due to the fact that vicars wouldn't hand over their registers to the mormon church as they didn't trust them and yet other vicars were happy to let the mormons see the registers. The reason the mormons transcribed the registers was to get the people inot their church, if you become a mormon then all your dead relatives do aswell if they are on the books!!

Look in the library part to see if they have the records of the particular parish you are interested in.

To get a copy of a marriage or baptism, burial entry is to go to the county archive and search their registers - telephone them first or look on line to check they have the relevant registers you require.

Most county archives will only have the relevatn parishes within their own county and will not do inter county loans - therefore you mut travel to each county to look at thier parishes.

If you do travel to a county archive either check their website or go on rootschat to find the info on how and what to take with you I.D is needed and pencils, (not pens) note books small change and parking info - just makes life easier if you know what to take before you go. smile

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