Showing posts with label Free BMD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Free BMD. Show all posts

January 26, 2011

Who's Your Daddy?!!

A few days ago I found out that I might have followed the wrong ancestral line on my Mother's English ancestry. I was contacted by another researcher who has different parents for my 3rd great-grandmother Betsey Norman born circa 1822 in Devon England. Does that mean she's right and I'm wrong? Not necessarily but....

My new-found contact has well-documented sources for Betsey and her family (spouse and children). So do I. We agree on our findings in Devon England census records from 1851 on. But I've never found Betsey in 1841. New-found contact has found a Betsey Norman in 1841 who could be my Betsey. Problem is that 1841 Betsey is with a different father than I have for her. And my new-found contact doesn't have any other proof of parents. So who is correct?

One other tiny piece of circumstantial evidence weighing in on the side of my new-found contact is that Betsey did name a son Nicholas which is the name of the father in that 1841 census record. Her other son was named after William's father so that's something to consider.

I opened my FTM program to look at what I have for Betsey and her parents. I haven't looked at this line in over 15 years so had to refresh my memory. Where did I obtain her parents' names? Ah, I see. About 20 years ago I searched through the Brixham Parish Records (Brixham being the place of birth Betsey gave in all the census records I found for her) In those records I found a Betsey born at the right time and assumed this was my Betsey. Perhaps it was but I never did try to find other proof!

Hmm. How did I make that very basic error of assuming without having more proof that the church Betsey was MY Betsey? Well - in my defense it was over 20 years ago. I wasn't as careful back then to not leap to conclusions without more proof, and I wasn't as experienced a researcher as I am now. It also was not very easy to obtain those English records as I can't easily order into a Family History Library. Okay enough excuses! I may have goofed.

Then I spotted something else of interest in my Family Tree Maker genealogy program. Betsey married her husband William Henry Williams around 1847. But I don't have their marriage record! Wow, I actually forgot that I didn't have it. Twenty years ago, obtaining a birth, death or marriage from England was difficult. You had to get the filmed indexes (remember I don't have a nearby FHL to order film), then find your ancestor's name and then find someone living in England to obtain the full record for you.

The FHL in Salt Lake City had a retrieval system for a few years where you could pay for one of their volunteers to obtain the actual record after you found what you needed in the microfilmed indexes. Unfortunately I didn't find out about that until a few years before that service ended.  I am guessing that I simply forgot I didn't have Betsey and William's marriage record.

Now we are fortunate to have FreeBMD to search the transcribed indexes and the ability to order the actual certificates online from GRO (General Register Office)  for England & Wales. What a boon! Even though it is a bit expensive to order a certificate now (GRO recently raised their prices from 7 L to 9.50L which converts to about $15.00 Canadian) it is well worth it if you are searching your UK ancestry.

And of course that 1847 marriage will seal it once and for all as to who Betsey's father is. Was I right to assume the birth in the Brixham church records was my Betsey? I'll let you know once the certificate arrives! I ordered it on Monday.

You'd think I'd be upset that the research I did on the parents I had for my Betsey might prove to be wrong. But I'm not. I'm actually kind of excited thinking that maybe I've got brand new lines to research! What fun! And I've reminded myself of an important lesson or two:

1. Don't assume, find more proof to substantiate what you find in one source.

2. Review your research a few times a year! I'd completely forgotten that I didn't have that 1847 marriage and could have obtained it a few years ago had I remembered.

Lesson learned and now to wait anxiously for that marriage record.

December 24, 2010

12 Months of Finding Ancestors: Free BMD Postems

Mike of Genealogy Gazette mentioned a little known and under-used resource for genealogists on his Twitter feed. I checked it out and realized he's right - it's a gold mine for genealogists that is overlooked for the most part!

Those of us with English ancestry no doubt know of Free BMD. This is the volunteer based website where you can search indexes to find the GRO reference for birth, marriage and death certificates. It's invaluable. I use it frequently. But I never realized there is a little feature called Postems.

Postems allow visitors to add information to an index entry once found. So a genealogist could find an entry for an ancestor, send for the certificate and then enter some of the details on the Postem for that index entry. Mike pointed out that if more genealogists filled these out we could all benefit.

Of course we have to avoid posting copyright material so I personally would not copy and submit the actual certificate word for word. But there's no reason a summary could not be submitted - for a birth registration you could simply submit the parents' names.

After reading Mike's tip, I immediately went to Free BMD and started adding my Postems for ancestors whose certificates I have, and who are found in the index on that site. I simply added one or two sentences such as this one for the marriage index entry for my ancestor Charles Simpson

"Charles Simpson married Sally Page. I have photos. Contact me at"
Now anyone looking for Charles will hopefully see that Postem and can contact me!

Further exploration of the FreeBMD website revealed that visitors can search all Postems! So I searched for "SIMPSON" I was amazed to get 220 hits! These are all Postems, that is, user-added notes and details. I'm not about to slog through all 220 so I simply began adding more targeted keywords to find the Simpson entries I would be interested in.

What a great resource. I hope all my readers with English ancestry will give it a try and start adding their own Postems. My New Year's Resolution is to add *ALL* of my English ancestors' certificate details to the FreeBMD Postems in the year 2011. Why  not join me?

May 20, 2009

Ordering English Certificates of Birth, Marriage or Death online

Recently I searched for the marriage record of my great great grandfather Charles Fuller who married Georgiana Golding in or near Lenham, Kent England. I was hoping to find out who Georgiana's father was since she is recorded in the Lenham Church Registers as being the daughter of "the widow Hannah Golding" Since I knew from previous research that Hannah Golding's husband had died 4 years before Georgiana's birth he was not the father! But who was?

In the census years after her birth Georgiana was always recorded with the surname Golding so her marriage registration was my last (slim) hope of finding out who her father was. Perhaps it was a dead end, perhaps Georgiana never knew her father's name but I had to turn that stone to find out!

The General Register Office for England and Wales website has an online form where you can order Birth, Death and Marriage Registrations.

The first time you use the site you must register but it is free and easy. After that you do not need to register each time, you just log in using your email address and password.

After logging in (or registering) you will see a screen with choices as to what certificate you wish to order

There are 10 - the first 6 for events registered in England or Wales. They are Birth, Marriage, Civil Partnership, Death, Adoption and Commenorative Marriage Certificate

The last 4 choices are for overseas events that were registered with British authorities. The choices are Birth, Marriage, Death or Civil Partnership Certificate

Next you are asked if you know the General Register office index and the year when the event was registered. NOTE: You must have the GRO index for England & Wales Birth, Marriage, Death before 1900. So you need to go to FreeBMD website or Free BMD index. This is where you will, with any luck, find your ancestor and the details you need to order the certificate.

FreeBMD is being indexed by volunteers from 1837-1983 and this index is then passed on to where it is also available for free.

Once you check the radio button for knowing the GRO index, you are taken to a screen where you fill out your delivery address details. If you have registered previously, this information is already there next time you log in! A very nice feature.

The next screen is where you fill out your information, including the details you found on the Free Bmd website (GRO index reference information)

You also get to choose what kind of delivery service you want either Standard or Priority (higher priced)

The GRO Reference Information that is required is

District name
Volume Number
Page Number

All of this is obtainable from the FreeBMD website or website free BMD index (if you find your ancestor there).

Searching the marriages on Free BMD I had a hit!
Marriages Dec 1858
Surname First name(s) District Vol Page

Fuller Charles Hollingbourne 2a 788

Clicking on "788" (the page) brings up a list of all brides and grooms on that page, usually only 4 names. So you can easily see if this is the correct index entry for your ancestors (providing you know both parties names, or at least one full name and one first name for the second party)

Clicking showed me Georgiania's name along with Charles so I now knew the GRO index details needed to order their marriage registration. This is what I needed:
Year 1858
Quarter Dec. 1858
District Hollingbourne
Vol 2a
Page 788

After logging in to GRO website I filled out my required information and sat back to wait. Within 3 weeks the marriage registration arrived in the mail. I was quite excited to open the envelope and see what it said, but reminded myself I should not get my hopes up.

It seemed most likely that Georgiana never knew her father and so that part of the certificate would be blank. Or, as I have seen on other marriage registrations I've ordered when the individual is an illegitimate birth, the father's first name would be given, but no surname!

To my surprise and delight, Georgiana's father was named in full. His occupation was also given. I now had enough information to start my quest for her father. But that is another blog post.....