View Full Version : Where to go? Help required.
30-12-2004, 1:22 PM
I'm just embarking on tracing my family tree, after discovering a few marriage and birth certificates in the loft. The earliest ones I have are birth certificate for my grandparents in 1920 and 1921, which gives the names of my great grandparents, which is what I want to start looking up. I think they were all born in London, but of course can't be sure, so I thought I'd start out trying to find marriage certificates.
I can get to the Family Records Centre in London if needs be at evenings and weekends, but am I better to do it another way, ie doing online searches? Do I also understand correctly that if I find a record there it's just a transcript, and that I could get a proper copy of the original register entry by going to the appropriate Register Office?
Finally, if I then am looking for someone's birthdate, are there any fiches I can look through to check they are the right person? Or do I simply have to cough up the money and hope it's the right person? I know that my own birth wasn't registered until months later, for example, and people would probably order the wrong certificate before realising!
Sorry if they all sound like really stupid questions, but as I said this is all new! Thanks, in anticipation of your replies.
As you know the names of your great grandparents you can look them up in 1901 census, that way you will have parent's christian names for any certufucates that you order. The 1901 census is online at http://www.1901census.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ on a pay-per-view basis or you can post enquiries giving as much detail as you can for someone to do an Ancestry lookup
30-12-2004, 1:53 PM
I think if I was you I'd look for the marriage certificates first. You may be lucky and find them by looking on http://freebmd.rootsweb.com but this is still being transcribed and I think the emphasis may be on 19th century records first. You could also try 1837 online which holds all the indexes but could prove expensive as you pay to view each page (it does however have good free information pages). It might be worth checking whether your local library has a copy of the indexes - you could check there instead if it is easier to get to rather than the Family Records Centre.
If you are looking for someone's birthdate the only indicators would be whether the registration district looks like it is the correct one. It is annoying but the chances are you will pick up a few incorrect certificates along the way.
When I started looking at my family history I found www.genuki.org.uk very useful. The BBC also have a good website too.
30-12-2004, 2:32 PM
Thanks! I've had a brief search through the 1901 census. I know that my maternal ggp's weren't born until 1905 and 1906, so that's no use, and there are far too many entries for my paternal ones!
I don't think my local library will have anything, they're (a) very small and (b) miles away from where I'll be looking up the information. Otherwise I'll just spend an evening next week in Islington. I feel a bit cheeky asking other people to use their subscriptions to find information for me!
30-12-2004, 2:43 PM
Part 1 of 3.......
[I'm just embarking on tracing my family tree, after discovering a few marriage and birth certificates in the loft. The earliest ones I have are birth certificate for my grandparents in 1920 and 1921, which gives the names of my great grandparents, which is what I want to start looking up.]
Welcome to an interesting but rather obssessive hobby. You've already been given the online sources that are available for the General Register Office (GRO) indexes - so a few simple tips
1) Keep organized - the amount of information that comes in can get out of control very quickly.
2) Buy an A4 exercise book in which to make notes. Speak to all members of your family and try to glean what you can from them. Note down where you got information and when.
3) Do background research first to narrow search periods down. For example, you want to locate your gt-grandparents marriage. If they have died, do you know when and their ages? - search the GRO index to deaths to find this out. Using age at death, you can work out roughly when they were born and so have started to narrow down when they married.
30-12-2004, 2:43 PM
part 2 of 3.....
If they were born in say 1890, they may well have had children before your grandparents. Search the GRO index of births, back from 1921. From 1916/17, maiden surnames of mothers are included in the index, so it is fairly eay to pick out which are relevant.
If gt-grandparents were born c.1900, then your grandparents may well have been first children and again you only have to check a short period of time.
[Do I also understand correctly that if I find a record there it's just a transcript, and that I could get a proper copy of the original register entry by going to the appropriate Register Office?]
The Family Records Centre (FRC) and the online sources, just hold indexes. These indexes have references which you can use to apply for copies of certificates. The index just contains basic information, year, quarter, name, registration district, volume, page (depending on teh idex you use, there may be a couple of other bits of information).
The certificates from the GRO are photocopies of copies. Those from Registrars are originals, but the certificates you obtain from Registrars are usually handwritten copies rather than photocopies of originals.
30-12-2004, 2:45 PM
part 3 of 3...
[Finally, if I then am looking for someone's birthdate, are there any fiches I can look through to check they are the right person?]
A lot depends on the surname(s) that you are looking for. Commonly occurring surnames can be a nightmare. Gain as much information as possible from others sources to make sure that the certificate you apply for is the one you want.
For example, suppose you want to find your gt-grandfather's birth certificate. From what you have said, he is likely to have been alive in 1901. Check the 1901 census to find an age and birthplace (he may also have still been at home with family), Obtain his marriage certificate to get an estimated year of birth, the marriage certificate should also record his father's name and occupation. The mar.cert and census should tally. So you have a narrow period of time to search the GRO index of births. His birthplace from the census gives you an idea as to the registration district in which he was born.
If in doubt about anything.......just ask :)
30-12-2004, 2:52 PM
I can see exactly what you mean by writing everything down. I'd not taken into account that my gran born in 1921 was actually the youngest of several children. So where I'd been thinking great gran was born around the turn of the century, she was in all probability born nearer 1890... Argh!
I can see this is going to be taking up a lot of my time. Thanks for the tips!
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