25 March 2007

Extra information in 20th century civil registration indexes.

Genealogists who work a lot with pre-20th century data for England and Wales sometimes forget that in the early 20th century extra information is included in the civil registration indexes of births, marriages and deaths. I did. Then I rediscovered it yesterday when trying to trace back a sister-in-law's family. I had her father's name, born in 1915, but nothing earlier and was getting nowhere. There is a family story that they are from the same family as a prominent academic, but I couldn't see any connection.

I was ready to order the birth certificate, but in looking up the reference number found the mother's previous surname. Knowing that made it easy to find the marriage in the marriage index, and so the parents first names. With that, and the indexed census on ancestry.co.uk, in only a few minutes I had the family back another century. There was no connection to the prominent academic, at least after 1800.

The indexes start in July 1837 and retain the same information until 1866 when age at death was added. The mother's previous surname was added for birth registrations starting in the third quarter of 1911. In 1912 the marriage indexes started recording the spouses last name. But it's not a total good news story. From the third quarter of 1910 the second and subsequent given names were dropped in favour of initials in all the indexes. The full name was reinstated in the indexes from 1966.

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