Why search and send off for a copy marriage certificate?

As we start to go back in time, through a few generations, it is easy to not be quite sure that we have the right individuals who we feel may be that missing great grandparent for example.  It can often be that we find 10 or even hundreds  of couples who married around the time our couple may have married, and in the same vicinity.  The only sure way to find out is to send off for a copy marriage certificate, which in the U.K. you can find records recorded on and after 1837, when formal civil registration became the law.

Firstly, you should try and find out the volume number and page number where the marriage is recorded, known as the Indexes. This information can be found out by doing a simple search on one of the on-line genealogy sites.  You can now go onto the GRO (General Register Office) web site.  This is the site where you order your certificates and is the cheapest method.  You will find a couple of simple forms to fill out and currently a charge of £9.45 at time of writing.  If for some reason the certificate cannot be found your payment is refunded.  Currently it is taking about 10 days to receive the ordered copy certificate.  It is exciting when the envelope arrives. I can help you do this by filling out the contact form here.

A marriage certificate will give you a lot of information and very importantly the maiden name of the bride, and of the couples fathers and their occupation.  The occupation of the bride and groom is also recorded which is a useful tool for cross referencing our couple on the census returns.   This can be a wonderful resource to help us to go back a further generation and be confident that we have the right people added to our line before we attempted to go back further.

The British Census, a beginner’s guide 1841

1841

The first British census, which covered England and Wales, was undertaken in 1841.  The census was carried out by literate persons who had to visit each and every household, institution and vessel on the xxxxx 1841.  We can view all the records on line at various sites, which you will have to pay for.  The 1841 census gives us the names, age, occupation, where they lived and whether born in the county where they were living.  This was noted as a simple y for yes, or for no.  An S was recorded for those born in Scotland and an I for those of Irish birth.  If a person was born abroad an was marked instead to note this, although it does not tell us in which country they were born. The 1841 census rarely gives us full addresses and never states the relationship of the people within one household.

Another important fact that you need to be aware of is that age was marked down to the nearest 5 years.  So if a person was 38 their age was recorded as 35!   Why would they do this, when it would have been just as easy to put the persons real, known age?  Well, some people did not know their exact age in 1841, and the government were really just interested in where people were living.  There had been a huge wave of migration in the early to mid 19th century as people moved off the land into the cities and towns to find work.  The Industrial Revolution had caused many families to move to find work in the new mills, coal mines and factories that were now covering large areas of the new urban regions.

So, in brief the 1841 census will tell us:

  • The persons first name and surname (last) name
  • Age of person
  • Gender
  • Occupation
  • Where born