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Value of certs and other docs

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CupCakes Report 4 Jun 2013 11:13

I find it so exciting when the postman drops certs or wills though the letter box - I'm almost childlike.

Being very methodical in my research I collect/download every scap of paper I can find about a person.So many times people give me incorrect information which doesn't add up. I just wait until more records come on line then hay presso mysteries get solved - some 15 years down the line. It is like being a plodding detective.

Gradually over the years I have collected every BDM cert/will & probate for all my direct family lines. Anybody I also help in my family no matter how distant I do the same.

Apart from they being so interesting the information on them is invaluable

Yes I know it costs money and because my pension doesn't go far, I have to limit it to 2 or 3 a month. I also do loads of swops with other people. I always ask and hardly ever get refused.

Just solved the mystery of my grandmother after all these years - my sis has sent me money so I could get all the docs quickly to prove my research. It was all through a chance search on GR Genealogy Chat when I noticed an enquiry about a possible 3rd hubby for a lady I suspected was her sister. Yes they both ran away to Manchester and slightly changed their names.

The Manchester & Rochdale offices have been so helpful in looking up the addresses to see who was living at the addresses I found on the various certs and docs.

I know some people are going to argue with me but that's my way and now family all over the world respect some of the amazing/weired/horrific results I suddenly pop up with.

Rambling Rose

Rambling Rose Report 4 Jun 2013 11:28

It is very exciting when one finds out some unknown snippets...witnesses that are family members for instance.

But it's not possible for everyone to purchase certs, nor do I think it's actually 'essential' in many instances, interesting of course.

That is why the LMA records have proved invaluable to me as the images are there , to have bought all the certs would have cost me many times the subscription so I just wouldn't be able to have done so. And many of the baptism and marriages pre date 1837.

The most 'important' cert I have bought was my grandfather's marriage, he used a different first name, but knowing the unusual name of my grandmother I was able to confirm it was him.

All trees I have come across including the one which was a one name study going back nearly 500 years, have missed that marriage ( they couldn't know unless they were a descendant of my grandparents from that marriage) so a whole direct line might have been 'lost'.


jax Report 4 Jun 2013 12:15

I have only bought two at the start of my search...grandfathers birth and marriage as he lied about his age

I only started this to find out about his ww1 activities...but they were destroyed so that was that....I dont need loads of bits of paper to clutter up my house, to then be thrown out when I pop my clogs

My gran was a collector so I have seen the origanal marriage certs for my gt grandparents on dads side from the 1880s and 1890s....but they are also on ancestry so would'nt have had to buy them anyway


TootyFruity Report 4 Jun 2013 12:52

I don't buy every cert for everyone in my tree or the many I've done for friends. I only buy the pivotal ones to get through brick walls where parish records are unavailable.

I don't print every scrap of information, I download and store on an external hard drive and index. I prefer to search the computer hard drive rather than a filing cabinet.


Porkie_Pie Report 4 Jun 2013 12:57

Certs and other documentary evidence is vital by way of proof but not always necessary for every individual or every generation,

I already new who my siblings, parents and grand parents were and also my Gr grandparents, I also new all my cousins and aunts and uncles were plus DOB and marriages so I only needed to confirm those events using the BMD index and Census info, None of mine lied about their age or had "skeletons in the cupboard" to hide, So I probably inherited my moral compass from them,

Once I had gone back to before my great grandparents then I found I needed to start buying certs in order to prove the correct line and census info, mostly just one cert per generation as a minimum requirement, I have found that with cross referencing and careful analysis of the info found beyond that time is a must plus Probate and Wills are a great source of info as are parish records, Electoral rolls are OK but of limited use, I still find that although their are more records online these days i still need to visit local studies libraries on occasion.



Jonesey Report 4 Jun 2013 14:04

Thanks to my maternal grandmother who lived with us whilst I was growing up I knew quite a lot about my maternal ancestors. In contrast I knew virtually nothing about my paternal ones because my father had left the area of his birth, Yorkshire, seeking work, married and settled in the Midlands. By the mid 1950's both my paternal grandparents had died and I did not even know their first names when I started to trace my family history.

The first certificate I obtained was my father's birth certificate which gave me his parents names and of course his mother's maiden name. Next came their marriage certificate which named their fathers. Each successive certificate obtained broadened my knowledge of their ancestors and confirmed some of the leaps of faith that I had taken. Contrary to what I had believed at the beginning of my research, that my Jones roots were firmly planted in Yorkshire, I discovered that only 2 generations had been born there. Their ancestors had arrived there from Suffolk via Middlesex and Lincolnshire.

Wills have always fascinated me and can be a wonderful source of family information. To me the most helpful were those of my 3x Gt Grandparents, both found at the National Archives as both had died pre 1858. The wills listed in great detail, their children, the names of the men their daughters had married and their grandchildren. An absolute gold mine of information which helped me discover 100's of their descendants right up to the present day when they are scattered all round the world.

There is no doubt that if you can afford them, BMD certificates and copies of peoples wills are a must buy. In lots of cases essential to ensure that your research results are accurate,


TootyFruity Report 4 Jun 2013 14:30

I should say all the trees I have done are proved but mainly with parish records census, newspaper reports, obituaries, Wills etc... and a few BMD's where parish records are not available.

I'm trying to find a birth for an ancestor of a friend. I think I've found the correct baptism in 1874 however cannot find a corresponding birth in the indexes. It is hindered by the fact her surname is Brown. Until I find collaborating evidence the baptism will not be entered into the tree.


SueMaid Report 4 Jun 2013 22:41

I have bought quite a few certificates over the years only to now find them on Ancestry. I don't mind because the experience of finding the envelope in the post box is so exciting - like a child on Christmas morning. I've only ordered the wrong certificate twice. One marriage certificate proved that I had been following the wrong family so I'm thankful that I decided to get that one. I did miss the other family for awhile though as I had got to know them well :-D


SueMaid Report 4 Jun 2013 22:45

Meant to mention that I have a copy of a very old will for my OH's 5 x great grandfather who was quite wealthy. It is written in old English which I have read with the help of a tutorial. It is rather an unpleasant will in that he made it very clear why some were going to benefit and not others but it brings to life the people involved and that is invaluable.


Persephone Report 4 Jun 2013 23:03

Someone steered me in the wrong direction too SueMaid and I made contact with a descendant and she got all excited but then I did my own research and found all was not what it seemed and also delved in the other family's history for them..

That person and I are still in contact it started with e-mails and now with FB. She is a sweetie so was happy that I did contact her.

And I should have listened to my father when he said that family could be distantly related but don't know how far away.

My OH's aunt's will was a right one with all the clauses but not only that she had a mile long codicil with who got which tea set, ornament, painting et.. took OH (executor) forever to trek around and give everyone their inherited bits and pieces.



lancashireAnn Report 4 Jun 2013 23:08

Wills are a great source. I have one which named all the people in the small area in which he lived and also made my relative more real by calling him Duke when all official forms I had named him as Marmaduke which sounded so starchy. Also listed brother & brother-in-laws who I did not know about as the surname was common to many different families in the area.

I too have bought certificates which I can now see on ancestry and a couple of birth ones which I thought were wrong at the time but one of which if I could find it may have been right as I was looking for the wrong mother's name (John Jones in Liverpool /west derby!)

It is always exciting opening that envelope from the GRO or the York Probate office though.


LadyKira Report 4 Jun 2013 23:49

It is the extras like wills and newspaper cuttings that really bring it to lfe, Several lines of my family end up in small villages with lots of inter marrying. Several of the villages have books written about them with details about the families that lived their. I have visited the villages and traipsed through the graveyards.
Just recently I visited one of those villages again and got some lovely photos in Evenlode and Broadwell. And wills are amazing.