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29 May 2010

Truly certifiable

The price of birth, marriage and death certificates took a hike recently from £7.00 to £9.20.  So I decided it was time to donate a pot of gold to the government and buy a lot of certificates while they still cost less than a starter at the Ivy.

Of the thirty certificates I ordered I had problems with seven:
1) Joseph Carter born 1919 Hull turned out not to be the son of Minnie Hebbard but of Gertrude Hebbard.  This was carelessness
2) Robert Gray born 1924 Salisbury turned out not to be the son of Mary Annie Maidment but of another Miss Maidment.  This too was carelessness
3) Jane A Gibson died 1923 Kendal was not mine - I'd not combed the death indexes properly so mea culpa again
4) William McKee died 1927 in Liverpool turned out not to be mine - but it was tough to have known for sure, so I'll let myself off here
5) Irene Antony died 2002 - they sent me the wrong certificate (which they are going to replace, though it's taking two months, there's no rush)
6) Catharine Creed married 1871.  I mistakenly ordered the certificate under her married name of 'Bell', so this is another wasted buy - though they did refund me £3
7) Alice Dauncey married 1917 wasn't my Mabel Alice but another woman.  I couldn't have known for sure though, so I'm glad I got this document.

Two further death certificates gave me precious little information as the partner was still living, or the deceased person was living in a nursing home with no named heirs.

The remaining 21 certificates were all full of useful information.

The BIRTHS gave me address, father's occupation, child's date of birth
Child's date of birth ought to have been stunningly useful, to enable me to find their subsequent death using this search field and their first names.  But there were NO Ethels born 20 Aug 1908, Kathleen 14 Jan 1917 nor Patricia 8 May 1923.  Very unhelpful and mildly vexacious!

The DEATHS gave me cause of death, family unit reconstruction, address, brother (brother-in-law) and children's address, circumstances of death, occupation, maiden name and new family information

The MARRIAGES gave me the leads I needed to move confidently forward with researching my five relatives Tamar Barnett, Ada Bray, William Samuel Jones, Rita Smith and Mavis Wood.
I had already contacted Ada's grandson but now I knew for sure he was a relative.
I was able to find Mavis living in East Grinstead so despatched a letter to her.
I couldn't find Rita Smith, but I was able to work out details of her husband's parents and brother which will help track her down.
And Tamar married into the Thompson family of Ancliffe Hall, so more details are expected in time.

In preparing my (flawed) list of thirty certificates, I did rule out 5-10 other buys, which I figured I could avoid by pursuing other, cheaper, genealogical search angles.  Further, I wanted to wait a couple of years until GRO certificates pre 1900 will finally be free, or very nearly.

I will avoid hitting the 'make payment now' button for quite some time on the GRO website, which in any event was truly Cthulian in its labyrinthian ordering structure.

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