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Anthony Adolph, professional genealogistWelcome to the Genes Reunited web chat, where you can get help and advice from our resident genealogist and expert family historian, Anthony Adolph. To find out more about Anthony click here.

Thanks again to Anthony and everyone who joined in on the sessions so far.

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Name Date
Jan Gilham (nee Howe) 02/09/2003 21:21:05

My gt grandfather Charles Howes' marriage certificate gave his age, and his father as Isaac Howe. I can only find one Charles Howe/Isaac Howe combination for the correct period, how safe is it to assume that this is the right one? I have no idea where Charles was born, but the Charles/Isaac combination come from a few miles from where Charles' wife was born in Cambridgeshire, even though they married and had their children in London.

You are sensible to ask this question and be cautious- always be cautious. The best way of telling whether the two Isaac Howes are one and the same is if their occupations match up. If in further doubt, seek more co-ordinates from census returns.

George Sales 02/09/2003 21:23:30

Hi I have a lead on my lost Little's, I found the full bap details of a child Thomas b 1811. The details of his parents Walter & Ann fit but after fathers name it said not of this parish and that his fathers occupation was militiaman. My Walter was definitely born in the same parish (Alston) as his. If he had been living in a different town temporarily would it say that? and can you advise of militiaman records from very early 1800's?

muster rolls for the militia can be sought using the National Archives also holds records WO 13 (1780-1878). If your Walter was stationed elsewhere when he married, this may account for the 'not of this parish', although I agree it's a bit confusing. See if you can find his age at death and see if that ties in with the baptism you have found in Alston.

George Sales 02/09/2003 21:26:44

Hi Have discovered that an ancestor Joseph Little owned 5 properties in or around Alston in the early 1900's. I have the details of one house but how do I find the other properties without writing to everyone in Alston asking them to check their house deeds.

You can try the records of the Land Registry and also the local rate books, but land in this country is not so systematically recorded as to make this an automatically solvable question. You could try his will, though, and see if he stated where his properties were.

Jan Gilham (nee Howe) 02/09/2003 21:32:44

You kindly answered my question about my gt grandparents' naturalisation to British Citizenship. Is it possible to get information by internet or post, as I am not able to travel to London, and can't afford a researcher?

The only 'free' way is by looking yourself. Otherwise, the National Archives refer enquiriers to a list of independent searchers (including me), who you can pay to look the record up for you. A single search for a naturalisation record, though, should not be too costly.

Jean Addison 02/09/2003 21:33:25

Hi Antony my great grandmothr was born in France c1859 as a British subject, how would I find birth cert for her. thank you

Hopefully your great grandmother's parents would have registered the birth with one of the British consuls, whose records are now indexed at the Family Records Centre in the indexes to Consular Births.

Ellen Jones 02/09/2003 21:34:32

Catherine Taylor married John Whittall on 1.11.1862 at the Roman Catholic Chapel in Wellington Shropshire. Catherine was aged 19 years and her father was William Taylor a carpenter. They had two children, Lucy Whittall b. 21.4.1865 in Wellington, Shropshire; and John b. 23.7.1866 in Wellington. On the 1881 census Lucy and John are down as living/visiting with their gradnfather, William Taylor in Angel Place, Worcester. I have searched the 1871 census for Catherine and John. there is a Catherine Whittal but I am not sure that she is the correct person. There is no mention of her on the 1881 census or the 1901 census. I have looked for deaths of John Whittall and can't find any. I have also looked for a marriage of Catherine Whittall, but there is none. I have tried to find where she was born and her connection with William Taylor, but there again drew a blank. I think that William and his wife, Ester, moved to the Bilston area of Staffordshire. I just can't find Catherine's birth anywhere. Help please!!!

There are several questions here. I would suggest,a s a first step, seeking Catherine in the 1861 census return for the address given on her marriage certificate, and perhaps also have a look at the Catholic baptism records for Wellington.

~~ Yvette Elliff 02/09/2003 21:34:48

Anthony Thanks for your help so far, my g-grandfathers parents were not engineers, they were greengrocers, so thats why i thought Chile as his place of birth a bit odd, they were not particularly well off either so i agree it was unlikely they were on holiday. As for my grandmother, unfortunately she is deceased, but told me she never had a birth certificate, and i have been unable to find one through the usual channels. I am now awaiting her marriage certificate in the hope it gives some clues. If not any ideas on where else i could look?

Consular births could be the answer (see below). if a greengrocer, perhaps he was sent out there to buy unusual produce (like chilies, which originally came from chile), or perhaps he had a brief go at setting up his own plantation. I think this is something which would need some pretty careful examination- let's see first what that marriage certificate has to say.

Lesley Carr 02/09/2003 21:36:01

Hello Anthony. What was the likelihood of two children being born three years apart with the same christian name? I have Thomas Morley baptised 1813 in Nutfield, parents Michael and Sarah Morley. Found a record for Michael Morley and Sarah Peat married in 1812. Another member has another Thomas Morley baptised 1810 Nutfield parents Michael and Sarah Morley. There are no other marriages for Michael Morley and a Sarah within 10 years? Could the two Thomas's really be brothers or is 10 years not really far enough back? Thanks for any help. Lesley

it is possible. If Thomas was an important family name, and the first Thomas was thought to be dying when the second was named, they may have chosen Thomas again, only to be pleasantly surprised when the first child survived. These circumstances certainly dod happen. However, be cautious before accepting that the two boys really had the same parents. Did thr occupation of the two Michaels match up, for example?

Annie J 02/09/2003 21:36:12

Hello Anthony I am searching for my grandmother who was born in Church Stretton on May 9th 1897. We cannot find any record of her birth but have her marriage and death certs.Her mother was unmarried when she was born but we cannot trace them on any census. Could they have not registered the birth? When her mother married, her husband adopted my grandmother. Would there be an adoption certificate?

Formal adoption did not start until later, so the act of adoption would have been informal. The birth may not have been registered- but remember that unmarried mothers often gave birth to their children a long, long way from home. Have you used the national indexes to births to look far afield for possibilities?

Ann Sherman 02/09/2003 21:36:40

Hello Anthony, My family name is Sherman, from visiting this website I have seen al ot of Shermans are Jewish, how can I find out if any ancestors are from Jewish descent. Thankyou Ann Killian

Work back as normal in General Registration records. if your ancestors were Jewish, you will find that their General Registration marriages were taking place in synagogues and this will then lead you back to the appropriate synagogue records.

Steven Arman 02/09/2003 21:38:17

Anthony, I have been trying to track down where my surname comes from - ARMAN - How can I do this effectively and how can I be fairly certain where it has derived from. I have a hunch that it may have originated from France or Spain. My researched tree goes back to 1540's where the name is - ARMON -. Any suggestions or advice? Steve Arman

The name could mean 'son of Armand' or 'son of Herman'. To be sure you will simply have to keep tracing back. You could check early naturalisation records to see if any Armans had been anturalised having come here from abroad. Well done for getting back so far in any case.

Stephen Pankhurst 02/09/2003 21:39:51


Good night everyone, and thanks for some very stimulating questions!

Fergus Hyslop 02/09/2003 22:33:59

Hi Anthony, I'm trying to find relatives of mine who went to New Zealand. They were cousins of my great grandfather, and their surname was Morrison. I'm not sure when all this happened, but to give you a rough idea, I'm 22 (and probably the youngest genealogist here!)

A good way to start looking for relatives in New Zealand is to see how many Morrisons there are in the New Zealand telephone directories and, if there are not too many, contact them and see if they are descended from your migrant relative. The other way, if that did not work, would be to use New Zealand general registration records. New Zealand. Civil registration started in 1848, first for whites only, but Maoris soon started to use the system voluntarily, until it became compulsory for them in 1911 (for marriages, and 1913 for births and deaths). Copies of the indexes to 1920 are at the Society of Genealogists in London. From 1876, birth entries give the names, places of birth and marriage dates and places for parents (and from 1916 they record other children born to the same couple) and death entries state place of burial, place of birth, how long they had been in the country, full names of both parents, name and age of spouse, place of marriage and details of children. From 1867, details of subsequent divorce are included and, from 1881, you will also learn each party’s place of birth, parents’ full names and witnesses’ addresses.

Mark Poxon 02/09/2003 22:37:00

I am looking for an Edward Roberts, a miner born in Shropshire around 1834. Given the high number of Roberts I'm trying to limit my search to the more likely places in Shropshire. Coalbrookdale and the surrounding is one obvious place but are there other areas? Are there any resources for tracing miners prior to 1837? E.g. employee records? Edward married a Sarah Bullock from Bilston and then moved to Walsall.

Sadly, miners seldom got recorded as such unless they died in accidents, and even then the papers did not always see fit to print their names. However, they appear in all the normal records we use for family trees, including parish registers (which should list his baptism) and censuses- the 1851, 61, 71 or 1881 (etc) censuses should state the parish in which he was born and hence the one in which he was most likely baptised.

Ann Conner 23/09/2003 20:55:04

Hello Anthony, Is it possible to order a Birth Certificate with just the name and date of birth? My uncle, Henry Oates was born Jan 24, 1878 probably in the Houndsditch area of London, but I have never been able to find him in the Vital Records of Births. I have tried different variations of Oates (Cates, Dates, Bates, Cater etc) with no luck. I also had the people at Research UK do a search for me, but no success. I have some of his Army Records and the above date of birth seems to fit. He was killed in action on Sept. 17, 1914 in France - at that time he was a Sgt. in the Royal West Surrey Regiment. I am really stumped as to what to do next, as I was hoping his Birth Certificate would give me some clues to his parent's marriage. Any suggestions?? Thanks, Ann

You can order 'short' birth certificates with just the name and date of birth, but if you want details of your ancestor's parents' names (in order to seek their marriage) you should order the long version, for £7. You sound as if you're stuck finding the birth. Have you tried the indexed 1881 census on this should give you an extra pointer.

Fi aka Wheelie Spice and Lilly 23/09/2003 20:55:31

Hi Anthony, thanks for your email today.

No problem- I hope it was helpful!

James Higgs 23/09/2003 20:58:46

My grandmother Elsie Marquis was born in 1889 but there is no father named on her birth cert or her baptismal record. She was put with foster parents shortly afterwards and her mother returned to her hometown and remarried a Frederick Hunt in 1892. Five months before the second marriage she had another daughter and again the fathers name was not given, although this time she kept the child and on the 1901 census the child Elizabeth V M had taken the name of Hunt and I can only assume he was her father. Was it common practice not to put the fathers name on the birth certificate at the whim of the person registering the birth, or perhaps because the child was born out of wedlock, and are registrars obliged to put any pressure on someone who refuses to name a parent or claims they don’t know whom the father is?

Essentially, mothers could decide what information to offer the registrar, but equally I think a lot of middle class registrars could pressure working class mothers to comply. One thing to bear in mind here, with regard to the second child, is that the child of a married woman was LEGALLY her husband's, regardless of who the father really was. The fact that the father was not named on Elizabeth's birth is therefore very odd and would certainly need further investigation.

Ann Conner 23/09/2003 20:59:44

Hello again, A follow-up to the previous question! Where can I get a copy of the death certificate of Henry Oates, killed in action, Sept. 17, 1914 in France? The nice people at tell me they don't have that information. As I live in Oregon USA it's a little difficult to chase down some of these records! Ann

The death certificate will be in the dpecial files of WW1 Armed forces deaths. The indexes are at the Family Records Centre in London. You can also look your ancestor up on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, and see if he is named on grave stone or war memorial.

Jill Thurston 23/09/2003 21:01:18

Hello Anthony, I have a problem finding the birth entry for my Gt Grandmother. She was called BESSIE CROSS from St Austell and according to a family birthday book her birthday was 4th Oct 1871. She married JOHN JONES in 1897. Early research went well. I found the JONES family in 1901 living in Wrexham Barracks (BESSIE is aged 28, born Gorran, St Austell), and in 1881 she is aged 11 from St Austell, living with mother Elizabeth Cross and sister Minnie Cross, born 1880. Father is Edwin Cross, a sailor in RN and is on board the Northumberland. Edwin Cross married Elizabeth Toms in 1879 (so Bessie pre-dates the marriage by some 9 or 10 years - things are not looking so good!) Big Problem: the marriage certificate for BESSIE CROSS and JOHN JONES in 1897 shows her father as JAMES FISHER, a Blacksmith. This got me thinking perhaps I had the wrong 1901 family or the wrong marriage but, lo and behold, getting a copy of grandmothers birth certificate (1901) shows her mother as BESSIE JONES, nee FISHER, as do certificates for at least 2 or her siblings (born after 1901). So, on the face of it, she is not the daughter of Edwin Cross at all, and is either illegitimate or from a previous marriage. I cannot find a birth entry for her, and I can't find anything to do with JAMES FISHER. Mother assures me all the family knew her as Cross. This is confirmed with backs of photos, 1881/1901 census, since we can find the rest of the family (Auntie Minnie etc) and match up to established knowns (living in the Barracks in 1901 etc) Interestingly in 1881 census for Gorran, St Austell there is indeed a family FISHER occupation Blacksmith, but alas no JAMES. I don't think her mother married previously as she is ELIZABETH TOMS on the 1879 marriage certificate (father WILLIAM TOMS) so that puts BESSIE as illegitimate. Why call her BESSIE FISHER? Why not BESSIE TOMS? And after 1879 she was clearly known to all as BESSIE CROSS. Why has she used the name FISHER on marriage certificate and childrens birth certificates? Any ideas what I should try next? Jill

I admire your enthusiasm but this is a wee bit too long for a live web-session. Regarding finding birth entries for 'Bessie, I'd consider the possibility that this could just have been a nickname and her real christian name could have been anything. Why not try the parish register of St Austel as a means of getting further clues?

Rita Bonney 23/09/2003 21:01:43

I have tried for months now to find my Grandfather and grandmother's marraige date but all I get is that there are no KNIGHTS LISTED . I know both of there names and how old they would be and when they where born and the dates that they died but I am getting so frustrated after months of searching the internet as I feel that I cannot get started without this information

I'd be interested to know where it was that there were no Knights listed. The basic answer here is tha, if it's not on the Internet, go to the original records- either General Registration from 1837 or parish registers pre 1837 where it is most likely they will appear.