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7 Nov 2016

Review of the new GRO index, November 2016

The all spangly new GRO index is hiding some gems.  Whilst the index page is reminiscent of the Dark Ages, even the Venerable Bede would be pleased at the motherlode this shy database is hiding.  Hereinafter this database shall be called the Index.  You do need a login to proceed there.

Something weird was afoot in Bakewell Registration District, where my ancestors enjoyed many an 'early bath' courtesy of the haphazard hygiene and filthy water available there.  A stonking 8.25% of births were registered without names, compared with just 2% in neighbouring Belper in the period being examined (1840s).  I had thought that my Aunt Esther Fox was struggling with her particulars when she registered Nathan as Male, Ellen as Female, Sarah Ann as Female and then Caroline as Female.  All these children survived so I am now blaming an overzealous parish council pushing people to get registering, even when names hadn't yet fallen fully into place.

I have confirmation now from the Index that the Fox children WERE registered, with mother's maiden name showing, but without a name, rather than not registered at all.

EmigrĂ©s.  Several relatives begin families in England before heading off overseas.  If they fail to 'clock in' at a census before they leave, we can easily miss folk.  The Index captures them before they go.

Fact-checking.  As a researcher I am full of reasons why things might have happened, and explanations which may or may not be correct.  The Index has told me sadly, that uncle Arthur Smith began his child-siring career age 20, and it was this urgency, rather than doting affection for his 28 year-old bride, that caused the wedding bells to ring.  He notched up 15 in the end according to the Index, and only wrapped it up as he needed to emigrate - by himself.  The hard work in establishing who were Rachel's kids (blog), is all confirmed, too.

More fact-checking.  I could see that the Whitehaven newspapers of 1869 were, as I predicted, wrong about the marital status of my Bridget Moon.  Various Davies births in Merthyr Tydfil were similarly accepted.  The crazy marital career of Eliza Creighton in Wellingborough is proven too - with many partners, varying locations and sons with the same name and vastly different futures, all needing untangling.  One of these became a Barnardo's boy in Canada.

Sort it out!  How embarrassing that I missed the death of my Ann Welch in Kent, 1862, out of the 92 available.  It's easier to home in on her given that the Index specifies her age (51), which is new information, and significantly narrows the field.  Ann's son-in-law survived until the 1940s when he was photographed with his great-granddaughter, who I yesterday informed of Ann's death.  Clearly Ann had gone from Somerset to Kent to help her niece with young babies.  The precise registration district and time-frames match.

Sort it out again!  Blundering through the Young births of north Newcastle, I thought that Cecilia Young would be our relative, as she's called that in the 1911 census.  Wrong!  Her name was Celia and the Cecilia was somebody else.  No wonder her great-niece put down the correspondence when I made this clanger.  Thank you Index for illuminating me.

Ha-ha, what 1837 cut-off?  I have no idea where my ancestral Barnett siblings married.  James (1799) is very much married by 1837, BUT has plenty of children after this time with the mother's maiden name usefully revealed (it was Taylor).  Agnes (1806) marries at about age twenty, and can we find where?  Luckily her youngest child arrives after 1837 so we confirm her maiden name of Barnett, and lock down the relationship.

That don't help me much!  My most puzzling Yorkshire rellie, Ann, born at Bedale in 1875 is confirmed with the mother's maiden name of Bagshaw.  Can someone tell me how this helps me find her (it don't)?  My great-grandmother's only cousin, Walter Gregory is born at Belper in the same year.  Apparently *no* mother's maiden name is given, which is certainly ringing my alarm bells.  Was he really who he said he was?

I see, sort of.  Eleanor Jenkins from Aberdare's three daughters are all born with different surnames:  Mary Monk in 1858, Gwenllian Thomas in 1865 and Elizabeth Jenkins in 1869.  Thank you, Index.  Mary Gwenllian Davies was definitely born in 1898 nearby.  Martha Reeve was the name of the lady who left the policeman (Roberts) in Manchester, danced around Northamptonshire before choosing my violent relative Hugh to shackle down with on the Derbyshire/Cheshire border.  She reverts to Mrs Roberts after his passing, but finally we spy her marriage - in Leeds - impossible without the Index.

I still see, sort of.  Ahhh, naughty cousin Charlotte is pinned down to sexy Fleet, Hampshire for the birth of her illegitimate daughter in 1910.  She fronted it out by deciding she was married.  The entire family dodge the 1911 census.  Arthur Sims born 1887 at Devonport is revealed as really being born at Shorncliffe Barracks.

Kiddies aren't us.  Lots of couples are proved as having no children whatsoever, at any point.

How are you spelling that?  Putting aside how the surnames were spelt, we seem to struggle with mother's maiden names.  Mary Charlotte had the excuse of being 17 when she got married which isn't very many years to learn how to spell Carline.  But this maiden name needed to be dusted down every year or so as the house filled with children (1880s Birkenhead).  Carlyle, Carlisle, Cartyre and occasionally... Carline.

Please turn over your page for the biggest bombshell of all, the Constantinople Connection.

Check out this potentially useful helper here at Greasy Fork.  Postscript: ordered six certificates with Greasy Fork's help.

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