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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
George Trigg 21/10/2003 21:04:32

One of my ancestors is named Emma Bellows. At the baptism of one of her children, in the Paddington Street Church "of the Independent denomination," her father is named as Joseph. I have found a record of the marriage of a Joseph Bellows to Emma Lachoine in the Queen's Chapel of the Savoy; the principals are described as "of this parish." No other records of anyone named Bellows appear in the records. I would like to connect this couple with my ggg-grandmother, and to find out about any siblings. I am inclined to suspect that they may have been dissenters, possibly Huguenots. How should I proceed from here?

I agree that your ancestors may have been Huguenot, though bear in mind that the Independents were a distinct denomination of English, not French, origin. How do you connect the two entries? I would be inclined to see if Joseph left a will which would name enough people to connect the two enevts you describe. The best place to start, assuming this was before 1858, would be in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, now delightfully well indexed at Also, there is the Huguenot Society of Great Britain, who may have material on these families.

Stella Blair 21/10/2003 21:05:15

I have the marriage cert. for my gg grandfather, it is an OPR and does not show any detail only his name and his wife and that they were of the same parish, how do I find his birth if it was recorded? all my family lived & died in Scotland.

OPR stands for Old Parochial Register, the name given to parish registers in Scotland. Like their English counterpart, they do not give very much information- that's your lot! I'd certainly suggest searching fopr possible baptisms in the same parish and, failing that, in neighbouring parishes or along likely communication routes. As Scots tended to use pretty rigid naming patterns, you can anticipate what his parents are likely to have been called from the names he gave his children. In Scottish Presbyterian families, they usually named the eldest son after his paternal grandfather, the second son after the maternal grandfather and the third after the father, and the eldest daughter after the maternal grandmother the second daughter after the paternal grandmother and the third after the mother. If you have a complete list of a couple’s children, therefore, you can make a pretty good guess at what the couples’ parents were called. and therefore work out if likely baptisms you have found for the parents are correct or not.

Anthony Graham 21/10/2003 21:05:17

Hi Anthony my G/G/Grandfather was a sergeant in the 78th Highlanders he came to Ireland from Nova Scotia with the Highlanders 1871 he married Catherine Dillon if he married her on the ship were can I find there marriage certifcate Thank you Tony

There may be a reference to the marriage in your ancestor's army service papers, which you can (and certainly should) seek at the National Archives. However, the best place for the marriage are the army chaplain's returns which you can find at the Family Records Centre.

Deborah Thorne 21/10/2003 21:15:03

hi anthony,im desperatly trying to do my dads family tree,his father never gave out imformation,ive just found his 2 half brothers on the cwgc but he has a half sister also killed in ww2,as of yet havnt been able to find her,not found alot really any hints or help on where to go next would be greatly be at the point of giving it all up,but only keep going as i found francis and john thanks alot debbie

cwgc is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission- their website is indeed a fantastic source for finding out about those who died in the wars. As the half sister does not appear, this suggests she may not have died in active service, but Second World War forces deaths have a special index of their own at the Family Records Centre. Otherwise, look for her in normal General Registration deaths. Just because your grandfather never said very much does not mean you cannot learn about your family past- the records available to us in Britain really are fantastic and will unlock many secrets.

Tricia * 21/10/2003 21:15:07

Hi again I have Frederick James Edridge.occupation glass bottle blower. married in 1903.shows fathers name as George, on the 1881 Frederick is shown as the son of Joseph Edridge and one of his brothers is a glass bottle maker. Also the family memories tie Frederick into the name of Joseph's wife, as his mother.The name of the girl he married also ties up with other bits of information. The only thing that does not fit is the fathers name on the cert. Tricia

interesting follow up here- there cannot have been many Edridges making glass bottles, I'll grant you. However, within the Edridge glass bottle making family there may have been several cousins with similar names, so you can't be too sure. As i said, try for some extra co-ordinates. Why not see if you can find your James in the 1901 census (fully indexed) and see if his age and place of birth as given there ties in with the 1881 census entry. And of course seek a birth certificate. Use the national indexes and see if you can find more than one possibility. if not, then you are one step closer to proving that your initial theory was right.

Ellen Murphy 21/10/2003 21:17:18

Hi Anthony I was wondering if you can help I'm trying to find out information on my mother and hersecond husband. Name was Pamela Bruce she maaried my day and it changed to Pamela Murphy in 1969 then my father died in 1978 his name was dennis murphy. she then married again but i can't find out when her named changed to Jane Devlin she married Paul Edward Devlin. My mother died back in Aug 2001. Thats all the inof i have can you help? I have never done a family tree before and dont know where to start? Kind regards Ellen

Do you mean that she changed from Pamela Murphy to Jane Devlin? That would be somewhat unusual. I would suggest seeking a marriage certificate for the second wedding. If in England and Wales, this would be at the Family Records Centre. Civil registration for Protestant marriages started on 1 April 1845 and on 1 January 1864 for all births, marriages and deaths. The records and registration districts were organised as in England. The records are kept by the Registrar General at Joyce House, 8-11 Lombard Street, Dublin 2, code 00 353 1635 40000, Certificates cost E6.98 but simple copies of the entries only cost E2.25. There are small fees if you want to search the indexes: E1.90 for a five year search, or E15.24 for up to five hours searching for births and marriages or up to six days searching for marriages. Civil records for Northern Ireland from 1922 are kept by the Registrar General of Northern Ireland at Oxford House, 49-55 Chichester Street, Belfast BT1 4HL (0232 235221), which also has fiche copies of the Irish birth indexes from 1864. You would want to look for a marriage between Pamela Murphy and Paul Devlin.

Kathy Casey 21/10/2003 21:31:15

I have found my gggrandmother and children on the original handwritten 1891 census where she states she is Married but my gggrandfather is nowhere to be found. In 1901 she is Widowed. If he were in hospital in 1891 would a census have been taken there, or could it be he was already dead and the enumerator mistakenly wrote Married instead of Widowed.

There are errors in the census returns, but the more likely error would be to find a woman living alone and put her down as widowed rather than married with the husband absent. Why not use a stree/trade directory to find out where the local hospital and look for hubby in the census returns there: or, if he died- and he obviously died sometime before 1901- look for the death record in General Registration.

Katie Lawrence 21/10/2003 21:32:26

Thank you for your help ANthony. I will look through the Wills and I know that Gabriel McKay was a Chief Gunner in the RN and RMA, but his son Walter was a Painter and then A domestic it is possible that Gabriel died in service, though not his son. It seems as though Military and Naval careers were popular with my ancestors so please could you tell me how and where to trace ancestors with Royal Navy and RMA careers? Is there any way I can search the Armed forces records without going to London? Another g-g-g-grandfather was a Gunner in 1867, a Ships Corporal in 1881 and a (deceased) Master-At-Arms in the RMA by 1903. Other than his name and approximate age I do not know anything else about him (ie: Birthplace) would this make him impossible to trace? His name was John Lambert Burns (I know common names make it harder). Sorry to trouble you again.

Anyone who finds ancestors in the armed forces (and, lets face it, most of us have) is onto a good thing. I've actually written an article on armed forces ancestry for the next edition of Your Family Tree: the records are almost all at the National Archives, Kew, Surrey. If you do not want to go yourself, the NA provide a list of record agents and genealogists- myself included- who can make the searches for you.

Tim Morgan 21/10/2003 21:37:06

i have found my g/grandparents in the 1901 census and they have been married over 24 years and as far as I know they have always lived in the aberdare area. but i cant find them in the 1881 cencuswhere else can i look to find them.also on the 1837online website before 1912 when your looking up a birth they do not give the maiden name of the can i cross ref the name to make sue i have the correct person. ie the right john morgan. regards tim morgan

The 1837online website merely reproduces what is in the General Registration indexes and, yes, before September, the mother's maiden name is not given in the birth indexes. You simply have to list possibilities from the indexes and have the entries checked for the right parents' names. If you cannot find your ancestors listed in the 1881 census indexes, try looking under variant spellings or search through the original returns for Aberdare (at the Family Records Centre).

George Trigg 21/10/2003 21:37:11

This is a slight modification of my earlier question, the addition of a date. My ggg-grandmother was named Emma Bellows, born in 1792. At the baptism of one of her children, in the Paddington Street Church "of the Independent denomination," her father is named as Joseph. I have found a record of the marriage of a Joseph Bellows to Emma Lachoine in the Queen's Chapel of the Savoy; the principals are described as "of this parish." No other records of anyone named Bellows appear in the records. I would like to connect this couple with my ggg-grandmother, and to find out about any siblings. I am inclined to suspect that they may have been dissenters, possibly Huguenots. How should I proceed from here?

The date is around what I expected. I would certainly suggest seeking a will for Joseph using the website I suggested.

Sharron Walker 21/10/2003 21:38:20

Hi it's me again. I've just been on the online1837 and order my g.grandmothers birth cert',she was entered as Florence Walker Ridley 28 july 1895 Penrith, but on my grandmother and her sister birth certs' Florence has put mother-Florence Ida Walker??? I have also tried different ages for Florence on the 1901 census and the same person from Lumplugh keeps coming up. Florence was 7 with her parents Robert Ridley 39 and Fanny Ridley 31. I guess Fanny may have been called Walker and kept her maiden name. Robert and Fanny also appear on the 1891 census but without child. This family tree stuff is very confussing ha. Thank you for your help

Well done- research going on live! I think that's a first. I am afraid I don't quite follow your second and third lines- are we dealing with just one Florence here? If you have just ordered Florence's birth record then you will soon have the certificate and know if the mother Fanny was born a Walker and I hope that will lead to some clarity. Do send me copies of the documents (by post), if you want, and I'll have a good look at them and see if I can say anything more intelligent.

George Trigg 21/10/2003 21:43:35

This is an answer to your query arising from my first question. First, the dates are reasonably connected, since the marriage was in 1784. Second, I know that my ggg-grandmother was born in Westminster. Finally, the identity of the names of Emma for both the bride and my ancestor is highly suggestive. As for the suggestion of Huguenot, the Paddington Street Church was apparantly related to the Reformed Church, as are the Huguenots.

I agree that everything points to you having foudn the right marriage entry. The will, as I said, would be the best way of proving the case. Do let me know if you pursue this line of enquiry and whether it works. By the 1790's, most Huguenots had been absorbed int the Church of England, so I'd be careful about making too many assumptions here. However, a good point to remember, and which is entirely in your favour, is that almost all surviving nonconformist records, such as those of the Independents, are indexed in the IGI (

Pauline Bennett 21/10/2003 21:48:03

Hi Anthony, My husband's great grandfather was James McCarroll from Ireland, but we have no idea which part. He was married to a Kate ?, and I have found then in 1881 and 1901 census. I also know that he died in 1902. He was born c1848, and the first child, Annie was born in Lancashire in 1880. No idea when they came to UK.His wife Kate was also born in Ireland c1865, and may have even been under 16 when Annie was born. Any ideas how to trace these individuals births? Tips greatly appreciated. Regards Pauline Pickup

Finding the origins of Irish ancestors can be difficult because the records often do not say where they came from except for just 'Ireland'. Gowever, McCarroll is a good, unusual name which you will hopefully be able to localise in Ireland using Griffith's Valuation and you may even find the family using www.familysearch.rog, which indexes some of the surviving Irish parish registers. There are searchable versions of Griffith on and

Katie Lawrence 18/11/2003 20:57:08

(apologies for the length of this - it is rather complicated) Dear Mr Adolph, I was wondering how to verify an ancestral link in Scotland where there may have been a surname change. My problem is this... My great great grandfather is Walter Gabriel McKay born c1860. I have his marriage certificate and two childrens birth certificates. It appears that his birth was never registered. I have the name of his father from the marriage certificate dated 1889. It says his father was Gabriel McKay, a Gunner in the RMA. The marriage and the children are all centered in Southsea or Portsmouth, Hampshire. On the 1881 census there is a Gabriel McKay, a retired Gunner. He is living in Sothsea (where the 1901 census says Walter was born). This appears to be my great great grandfather, but his son Walter is nowhere on the 1881 census or 1891 census (his wife is not on this one either). I have the marriage certificate for Gabriel McKay and Eliza Williams in 1847, and this is definately the couple on the 1881 census who I am assuming are my ancestors, as all the evidence suggets it. Gabriel McKay's father is listed as Thrift McKay. I wrote to the Scottish Records Office and asked them to locate Gabriel McKay's birth certificate as I could not find it on scotlandspeople's website. I also asked for Thrift McKay's death certificate if there was one. The results came back negative - no matches for either request. I have since found a birth record on the Latter-Day Saints website that MIGHT be a match. (My ancestor was Gabriel McKay born 1826 or 1827. Son of Thrift McKay) *IGI record* *Name: Gabriel Miller Keay* *DOB: 22 Feb 1826* *in: Inverarity and Methy, Angus, Scotland.* *Father: THRIFT KEAY* *Mother Margaret Nicholson* There is also a marriage cert for that persons parents with another surname variation: *Date: 10 Dec 1825* *Place: Inverarity And Methy, Angus, Scotland* *Groom: Thrift Key* *Bride: Margaret Nicholson* I do not know how I would verify whether this Gabriel Miller Keay is my Gabriel McKay without the birth certificate for his son Walter Gabriel. Any advice you could give me will be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time, I know you have lots of questions to get through tonight and I am very grateful for your assistance! Yours Sincerely, -Kat Lawrence

With the best will in the world, this is too long for this session- though you're welcome to send questions of this length to me at my normal e-mail address ( It would be great in the live sessions if people could just ask one question. The general answer to your question, though, is that you have come so far in obtaining records relating to your ancestor Gabriel MacKay: in order to determine whether all the records actually relate to the same person, you will need to obtain further co-ordinates on Gabriel himself. As he was a gunner in the RMA, why not explore what is held on him at the national Archives in Kew.

Bridget Earls 18/11/2003 21:01:57

Hi I am going to visit Rotherham in January (I have been invited to a wedding in Sheffield in 31 Jan) so I am making the most of the time by going up on the Thursday to stay in Rotherham in order to continue with the search of my family Wilkes that are from West Brom originally and then Rotherham/Sheffield. I am trying to trace my gt grandad's and gt gt grandad's grave. They both died in Rotherham in 1892 and 1914. I did phone Rotherhamm B C and they confirmed the records were held at the local crem. I also want to know how can I see information held on the electoral rolls for certain years as I have a few addresses to check etc. Are these available to the public and if so how? Is there anyway I could find out where they are buried before I go? Also it will be the first time I have been to Yorkshire! Cant wait to visit my roots! Any help much appreciated. Bridgette

Good luck with your trip to Rotherham. It's a fascinating area, as far as I remember, part ex-industrial and surrounded by lovely countryside. Aside from the partially complete National Burial index, you can see if the local Family History Society has produced any burial indexes- you can locate (and preferably join) the local FHS through Failing that, you may simply need to search through the local burial registers. Electoral registers are usually held either by the local archives or a local library. A quick call to Rotherham Archives should enable you to find this out.

Iris Cunliffe 18/11/2003 21:05:04

Dear Anthony, I have been trying to find the birth of my great grandfather Henry Cunliffe, I have found his marriage in 1870 also is death in 1905 from his age at marrige and death it gives me a birth year of 1837. I have found him on three census 1881 1891 and 1901 birth place Oldham Lancs. Have paid a researcher to look at all Oldham parish records with no results, also can not find him on any earlier census records. Iris Costello nee Cunliffe

You have found god co-ordinates confirming when (1837) and where Henry was born, so you could try the General Registration indexes which started on 1 July 1837. Of course, he may have been born before 1 July: in that case you will need to seek a baptism, but birth places and baptism places are not always the same. Try searching a wider area, or consider the many types of non-conformist churches and chapels which would have been in the area. Catholicism was fairly strong in the area as well- to search Catholic registers you may need to contact the local churches, where most registers still are.

Christine Sadler 18/11/2003 21:05:28

Hi Antony, I am searching for my paternal great grandfather. I think he was from the Brighton area. I have traced a James Sadler in the 1881 census who was at Colchester Barracks and listed as a militiaman. this ties in with the info I have as apparently a black sheep in the family and put into the army at a young age. The problem I have is that apparently he went to Crosshaven Southern Ireland serving in the British Army met my great grandmother then went to India where he had several children. They did return to Ireland where he settled. How can I trace his army records at that time to try and confirm that the James Sadler I found on the 1881 census is one and the same. Any tips would be great. I have spent around 12 months on this mission getting nowhere. Regards, Christine Sadler

the British Library's India Office collections, now at Euston Road, should provide further references to James. You should be able to find the baptisms of the children of his who were born in India there, and these baptism records should also state his regiment. you could also seek the children in the Regimental Returns of births at the Family Records Centre. The army records you want will be at the National Archives.

Eveline Williams 18/11/2003 21:11:25

Hi Anthony, my query is about my grandmother's birth date. As far as we know and the death certificate shows she was born on 27.4.1896. However her marriage certificate of 9/12/1912 shows she gave her age as 24 years. I know this to be incorrect as she told me she lied as she was under the age of consent and her stepfather (natural father had died) would not give consent. So she married out of the area. She gives her natural father as Jonathan Nuttall. There is no record of him at all either birth, marriage or death or in the 1881 or 1901 census. I wonder if she altered the name as well. There is also no record of her birth for the date given. However there is a record for Margaret Nuttall for the date we believed was her birth giving a different father, and this is also recorded in the 1901 census. Do you think this could be the one? Many thanks. Lyn

We often hear about people who must have altered their ages, or the theory that many people did, but it is very interesting to read an example here of someone who told you they had done so! So, the age at marriage is inaccurate- and beware dates of birth given on death certificates for the deceased- they may often be inaccurate because, self evidently, the only person who would have known for sure was deceased. Margaret may have lied about her real father's name, but you should be terribly careful before accepting the birth record you have found as hers. Try widening the period searched for her birth, and try to marry off or kill off the person whose birth you have found. If you cannot, it will increase the likelihood that you have found the right person. But proceed with caution.

Susan Bromley 18/11/2003 21:16:13

Hi Anthony,I too am trying to find info on my great grandfather John William Bromley I do know he was born in 1883 Grimsby and he had a son in 1913 he died in 1916 his wife was called Alice Macey Crowson but I cannot find their marriage or where they were married have you any suggestions please. Sue

Grimsby fishermen were a pretty mobile bunch, so I wonder if the marriage you want may be in Scotland. If so, it would be on record at New Register House in Edinburgh. You could seek the family of John and Alice in the 1901 census ( and see where Alice said she was born. Whereever that was, it should give you a helpful clue, as marriages often took place in the bride's home town.

Katie Lawrence 18/11/2003 21:16:54

Thanks Anthony - I just have no idea how I would know if he changed his name or not - there seems to be no way of finding that out as he only came from Scotland. I'll contact Kew again, when I tried before they had no record of him. Many Thanks. -Kat

Here you raise the issue of whether MacKay was the same as Keay. Certainly, names like this in Scotland and also Ireland could be recorded by clerks without the initial Mac (or O' in Ireland). This was not a questio of someone changing their name- but merely how it got written down at a certain time. As I said, seek more information about Gabriel's life and career- there are many places, such as service papers and muster rolls and pay books, where he may appear, and it may only take one reference to provide the extra piece of information you need.