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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
Andrea * 28/09/2004 21:04:00

Hello, I want to trace a grt grt grandmother that was born in Bordeaux, France. I have found her listed on the 1891 and 1901 census records and it says on there that she was born in France, but in brackets it says British Subject. I want to find her birth certificate, so where is the best place to look? Thanks, Andrea

Consular Births are those births of British people registered with British Consuls abroad. They exist in a special set of indexes at the Family Records Centre. Some births were registered locally, and not with the british consul, for which you could try the local archives in Bordeaux. Your family may have had links with the wine trade, which would be fascinating to explore.

Tricia * 15/07/2003 21:59:03

hi can you tell me how I can find siblings for relatives prior to 1837. other than igi.bmd and census Tricia

Wills. you'll probably find me suggesting wills a lot on this q. and a. site, simply because they're so useful. The other thing to say is that the family may not be in the IGI simply because the Mormons haven't got round to indexing the relevant registers yet- so have you tried looking in the original parish registers?

Tricia * 15/07/2003 22:00:54

Hi Can you tell me how I can find siblings for relatives prior to 1837. Other than IGI, BMD and census. Thanks Tricia

Wills. you'll probably find me suggesting wills a lot on this q. and a. site, simply because they're so useful. The other thing to say is that the family may not be in the IGI simply because the Mormons haven't got round to indexing the relevant registers yet- so have you tried looking in the original parish registers?

Tricia * 21/10/2003 21:00:22

Hello Anthony Please can you tell me, what the chance is, of the name of the groom's father being entered incorrectly on the marriage certificate. Did they have to give the correct name of their parent. Thanks Tricia

They were supposed to give the correct name, but in practise could say whatever came into their heads. However, you would want to have very good evidence before believing that the name of a parent on a marriage record was wrong: there are so many reasons why you might not have found the right birth record yet. Try using census returns to create extra co-ordinates to be absolutely sure you have found the right one.

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.

CelticShiv * 20/01/2004 21:02:06

My Great grandmother gave birth to my Grandfather and his twin in 1924. On both birth certificates my Great Grandmother has taken the fathers name and one of the twins is also clearly named after the father. So I am presuming they were married. I have searched the indexes and cannot find a ref to a marriage anywhere. The father was a stage manager and a member of the theatrical society. I have contacted the theatre museum, but nothing could be found. I have easily managed to trace my grandfather's mother, by luck of an Electoral Register lookup. But my grandfather's father is proving difficult. Any tips?

If your great grandmother is down as 'Anne Bloggs formerly Smith' then it means she was married to Mr Bloggs. Many theatrical types assumed stage names, which makes tracing them very difficult, but lets assume that was not the case here. Try looking further back for the marriage- a twenty year search would not be unreasonable at that period. Also, as theatre peple, they would have been used to touring about, so why not look in Scotland, Ireland, the Channel Islands- or even further afield in India?

CelticShiv * 20/01/2004 21:02:53

Apparently my grandfather was put into a home (no idea which home) when he was aged 2, something to do with a court order. As for his twin, we do not know, and my family are quite positive my grandfather never knew he was a twin.This was something I discovered when searching for the reference to my grandfathers birth. As he passed away in 1977, I cannot ask him for any more information. I really need some help on how to locate the mystery father.

My earlier answer really applies to this and also to the foregoing question- you need to start looking over a wider area and then the mystery may resolve itself. Concerning the twin, he may, sadly, have died (as many did). You could seek a death record- and this might, incidentally, provide a further clue on the parents' whereabouts and identities.

CelticShiv * 17/02/2004 21:00:09

Hi Anthony. How would I go about finding which home my grandfather was put into in 1926. All I know is that it was in London/Middlesex area and was because of a court order. Also is there anyway of getting hold of the court order to find out the reason he was placed in a home. Thanks

There is no easy short-cut into this area. You may simply have to find out what homes there were in the area and track down their records. Similarly, to find a court order you would need to guess which court it mught have been- and not all records in either category survive. You could use a contemporary street/commercial directory to see what homes were in a particular area- there are good collections at Guildhall Library and the Society of Genealogists. Perhaps, however, there is another way altogether of getting round your problem, which is presumably to find out where someone came from. If so, let me know more details.

Andrea * 26/10/2004 20:56:58

Good evening – I have grt grt grandparents that were born in Ireland. I confirmed this information by finding them on the 1881 and 1891 census forms. By the looks of things they came over to England just before or after they got married, as all their children (about 11 of them!!) were born in this country. There are 2 problems:- One is that I only know that they were born in Ireland and Two is that they have the popular surname of BUTLER! How do I find out exactly where they were born? Their names are Michael (b.C1839) & Mary BUTLER (b. C1842). I also know that they were Catholics. Any suggestions or ideas greatly appreciated. Thanks, Andrea.

The first thing in any event is to seek their marriage in the English or Irish systems of General Registration. That will give you the fathers' names. Then (and this may be a log slog) you can look the fathers up as tenants in Griffith's Valuation. Griffith’s primary valuation was overseen by Sir Richard Griffith, a civil engineer served as Commissioner of Valuation in Ireland from 1828-1868, whose work created a resource of immense value to family historians. Griffith’s task was to record all those liable to pay the poor rate and assess how much they should pay. To this end, his team worked through the Irish counties from 1847 to 1865, recording the landlords and occupiers of all buildings and land, noting the nature of the holding, with precise size and rateable value within each poor law union. The original records are at the National Archives, Dublin, with some copies at locations such as the Society of Genealogists, and full, indexed copies on CD-Rom, produced by Heritage World and the Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc. It is also searchable on-line at and more recently at

CelticShiv * 26/10/2004 21:00:44

Hi there Antony,My grandfather was born in 1924 in birmingham to a singer Irene Littlejohns and Dramatic Actor Grosvenor Ashford Clarke, he was born a twin but his twin died age 15 days. In 1926 he was put into care somewhere in London, apparently due to a court order. I have recently discovered he also has a sister and brother, they were looked after by relatives and eventually Irene got them back and they were adopted by her second husband, but she never went and got back my grandfather. The reason for this I do not know. Is there anywhere I can find out about the court order and how do I find out what home he was put into? Thanks, Siobhan

There's absolutely no easy answer to this, I'm afraid. You may simply have to contact any homes into which your grandfather may have been placed, and see if he appears in their records. For court orders, you could try the local courts or local newspapers, but it wil be hard going without better details. There are no short-cuts you're missing out on, though.

CelticShiv * 26/10/2004 21:11:44

Hi Anthony, What would be the best way to find out about my ancestors careers, on my grandfathers side, there were singers, actors and artists. One of which was called Harold E Mansfield, he designed unique furniture with hidden compartments, he was also a watercolour artist and had some work exhibition at a exhibition at the Tate gallery in the 1930s the tate gallery had no record of him. Harolds sister was Elizabeth Ada Mansfield, stage name Vida Varrel and apparently she performed in some early silent movies. But again I can find nothing on either of them. Any advice would be appreciated. Regards, Siobhan

The Theatre Museum (1E Tavistock Street. London WC2E 7PR, 0207 943 4700, has a vast collection of playbills and programs. For performers since 1912 you can consult Who’s who in the theatre. Which includes some dates of birth and parents’ names (and of course the parents could themselves have been on the stage). There were a number of 19th century journals, starting with The Era, which was founded in 1838, and also vast archives of playbills and programs, the best of which can be searched at the Theatre Museum, 1a Tavistock Street, London, WC2 0207 836 7891, but the task can be difficult because the profession was such a mobile and transitory one.

CelticShiv * 18/01/2005 20:55:44

Hi Anthony, I have been searching for over a year now for my great grandparents marriage with no success. The had one child born in 1922 in London and twins in 1924 in Birmingham one of which died. I have recently discovered they had another child born 1921 in Falkirk, so am rather excited. As I know Scottish birth certs give date and place of marriage. Which I awaiting delivery of. My problem is that the marriage is nowhere to be found in the GRO index, as I have searched every variation. So once I get the date and place of the marriage what are my option on actually finding the marriage to get more information. Hope this makes sense.

I agree with what you say here. The Scottish birth record should give you a massive pointer - and of course the couple may have married in Scotland, which is why you have not found the marriage in English and Welsh General Registration.

CelticShiv * 18/01/2005 21:04:25

Hi Anthony, One more quick question (I am cheeky after all). There is a rumour that my great grandmother advertised one of her children for sale in the paper. This would of been in the 1920s, what is the likelyhood of this. Surely she wouldn't of got away with something like that (or would she). Although nothing shocks me with her now.

The service is here for everyone to use, so please don't feel shy of using it as much as you want! It's a pretty unlikely story, but if you want to get to the truth of what really happened you could look through the local papers either in the local library (ask and they will tell you where the lcoal collections are) or at the British Library Newspaper Library, Colindale Avenue, Colindale, London NW9 5HE, 0207 412 7353, British Library Newspaper Library

CelticShiv * 18/01/2005 21:10:52

Hi Anthony, They definately didn't marry in scotland as Falkirk records office stated it was Burnley Lancashire, they were kind enough to check the image for me, although I have to wait for the cert to get the date. So if they married in Burnley and it is nowhere to be found in the gro index, what options to I have off actually getting some kind of record of this marriage.

Well, you probably will be able to find the marriage once you have the date. If not, the date may be stated wrongly, so look a few years either side.

Joan * 22/02/2005 21:35:13

Hi Anthony. I have managed to trace my ancestry back to 1780's for the PUTNAM family, but have come to a dead end as the parish records for the 1780's show the baptisms as the child's name followed by the parents names which appear as "son of Joseph & Ann VERE alias PUTNAM" (or sometimes appears as PUTTNAM)I have been unable to find anything before that for Putnam. Does this mean Their name was originally Vere & should I be looking for Joseph Vere prior to that? Why would they change their name? Any help/tips how to proceed? Thanks, Joanne.

The 'alias' means that Joseph could have married and been baptised under either surname - he may have been illegitimate. Seek him under both surnames.

Borobabs * 17/05/2005 21:03:17

How do you find someone who you cannot trace? my g.grandmother Jemima Sarah Braddy was Married on 17/8/1878 but cannot find any details of birth for her/death, as on 1881 census her husband Stephen Murton was with someone else !!!!

If your great grandmother cannot be found in the 1881 census this suggests she may have died between April 1881 and August 1878. You could therefore seek her death in General Registration. This and her marriage certificate should give her age, so you can seek her birth. You’ll probably find the surname Braddy spelled in different ways as you go back, so look under Brady, Bradey and so on as well as Braddy.

Borobabs * 17/05/2005 21:17:41

Its that Boro pest again my grandfather William Henry Steer Johnson ,I have his wedding Cert. but I bought his B/C or so I thought and I dont think its him, there are so many william Henrys out there at the same time they cannot expect you to buy all the B/C how do you differenctiate(spelt wrong) if there is no S. after the Name????

You don’t have to buy all possibilities – you can have possibilities checked for the right father’s name, or other identifying features (such as a date of birth, if you know it, though in this case I imagine not). If the checking point is not found you are refunded £4. You could also consider illegitimacy and look for births under Steer instead. The correct spelling, as you ask, is differentiate.

CelticShiv * 18/03/2008 21:03:18

Hi Anthony I really need your advice as I have been stuck on this now for over 4 years. The elusive person is my great grandfather Grosvenor Ashford Clarke, he fathered 4 children with my great grandmother from 1921 to 1924, a daughter born 1921 in Falkirk, Scotland, a son born 1922 in London and then lastly twins born 1924 in Birmingham. Shortly after the birth of the twins around 1926, he must of disappeared as it was this time my grandfather one of the twins was placed into care, the other twin died at 13 days old of premature birth. The two older children were adopted by my great grandmother's second husband, but my grandfather remained in care. I can find no records of which home my grandfather was in, despite contacting several organisations, but I do have the name and address for the couple who fostered him. Grosvenor my great grandfather was an actor, I have found some mentions of him in the stage magazine, he played in a 1921 production of a Chinese Honeymoon and also a few other productions, which all seem to be comedy musicals he also co wrote "A peep into fairyland". The strange thing is, he only appears in the stage magazine from about 1920 to 1925 and then disappears again and all of his appearances are as Ashford Clarke, not Grosvenor Ashford Clarke. There is a mention of him in some Actor's association elections in the stage magazine in which he is referred to as Major Ashford Clarke, so going by the dates of his appearances I would assume he was in the first world war, but unfortunately I have been unable to find any records/mention of him. I am also unable to locate a birth, marriage or death for him. It is becoming rather frustrating as you can imagine. The only place I have found anything of him, is on his childrens birth certificates and the few mentions in the stage magazine. I have contacted various theatre archives, looked at passenger records, overseas records and I can find nothing, so I am really stuck on where to look next, I just wish I could find out who he was and where he came from. As he is an important ancestor in my tree, as he is the one who carries down my surname. I am aware that it is possible Grosvenor Ashford Clarke or Ashford Clarke could well of been a stage name, but if it was, how on earth do I go about finding his real name. Any advice you could offer, would be grately appreciated. I think I have outlined enough of the main facts about him. Thanks, from a very frustrated Genes Reunited member, Siobhan

I'm afraid you've answered your own question here - this actor was very probably using a stage name (it is clearly not a proper one), and as he never gave his original name you may never find it out. If pressed, I suppose you you could look for Clarke families in Ashford (Kent and Middlesex), and a lot of people tok their mother's maiden names, so you could try very broad searches and see if any likely candidates could be found. A Y-chromosome DNA test on a male-line descendant of this man could be entered into a comparative site such as Y-Search and you could see if the Y-chromosome DNA profile matched lots of other Clarkes (proving that that was his real name), or lots of men with another surname (thus indicating your man's original surname),

Twinklestar ** 22/08/2006 21:01:19

hello please can you tell me i have a uk marriage certificate with only one witness in 1867 i thought there always had to be 2 witnesses many thanks Tracy

Yes, there did. You have either found an exception, or else the clerk who filled the certificate in simply lost concentration and missed the other one off. Look at the local registrar's version and see if that actually has two witnesses, not one.

Ellen *** 12/12/2006 21:39:30

ref Alice Anderson Thank you

I hope it helps. Good luck!