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TIP OF THE DAY...Finding ancestors post 1911

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Jonesey Report 4 Jul 2011 21:35

Tips for where to look when trying to trace your ancestors between 1911 and the present.

Birth registrations: An important and very helpful change was made in the September Quarter of 1911. From then onwards the mothers maiden name appeared alongside the child's name in the index. This can help considerably when trying to discover who the childs parents may have been. E.G. Child: Bill Bloggs mmn Smith, look for likely Bloggs/Smith marriages. Another change made at the same time unfortunately may possibly hinder you for from the same quarter second forenames were replaced with just the initial. E.G. John Frederick Smith became just John F Smith in the index. Another thing to be aware of that if the mother had been previously married then her maiden name would in most cases not have been the name that her 2nd or later marriage was recorded under. During and after both world wars the number of young widows marrying increased.

Marriage Registrations: These are always a good place to look when trying to find your ancestors. The more uncommon their name the easier they may be to identify. Traditionally most women get married in the area that their families live in and I understand that that is still most common. For that reason start your search for the marriage of your female ancestors in that area. Men were less predictable and service in the forces or their occupations often means that they may possibly have married well outside the area of their birth. The legal age for marriage in the UK is 16 so when I personally try to find someones marriage I base my search at 26 years after the persons birth with a 10 years span either side thus covering marriage between the age of 16~36. When looking for possible children from a marriage I usually search the birth index basing my search starting at 10 years after the year of marriage with a 10 year span either side as most children are born within the 20 years following their parents marriage.

Death registrations: Age at death is shown in the index but it must be remembered that this is only as accurate as the person who registered the death knew it to be. Always allow a little latitude just in case. Another thing to remember is that deaths are registered where they occur which may not be where the deceased lived. A useful change to the index occurred in the late 1960's, a person's first 2 forenames were shown in full on the index. This can help your search in 2 ways. It can assist in providing a name were previously you only knew an initial. In the case of a woman it can also help to confirm the possibility that the Felicity Annie Bloggs who died aged 68 in 1985 was the Felicity A Smith born 1917 who married Joe Bloggs in 1940.

It should be stressed however that whatever you discover from the BDM index the only real way to prove 100% that what you have found is indeed your ancestor is to purchase copies of the relevant certificates.

So what other sources are useful?

Electoral Registers: Of limited value unless you know the address where your ancestor lived. Almost no online access (Birmingham being an exception) 1911~2002 but copies of old ER's usually available at main public libraries or Archives in the area the ER covered. No ER's were produced during the latter half of WW1 and all of WW2. Since 2002 copies of ER's have been sold to commercial organisations such as who charge for the information contained. The good news however is that these are now indexed by name as well as address.

Shipping records: During the 1950's a great number of UK citizens left the UK to start a new life elsewhere. A particularly popular destination was Australia. If you suddenly lose the trail of a ancestor during this period it might be worth checking the outgoing passenger lists at

War deaths: Unfortunately a great number of people, civilians as well as members of the armed forces perished during WW1 and WW2. If you suspect that some of your ancestors may be amongst them it is worth checking the records of this site:

This is only a hastily prepared list made in response to a specific request. If anyone wishes to add their own suggestions please feel free to do so.


littlelegs Report 4 Jul 2011 21:41



Jonesey Report 30 Nov 2011 16:00

:-D :-D :-D


Chrissie2394 Report 18 Jan 2012 12:18

Thank you Jonesey.



Jacqueline Report 19 Jan 2012 13:07

Many thanks.


Alan Report 19 Jan 2012 16:51

......and what about this fella Jones who lives in Wales ? :-(


SueCar Report 29 Apr 2012 19:56



Joy Report 22 Oct 2012 12:46



DazedConfused Report 11 Jun 2014 15:01

Aw, one of Jonesy's great tips.

Maybe we should petition GR to get all his great tips on one thread in his memory... <3


Kense Report 12 Jun 2014 07:38

That's not a bad idea DC although many of those threads do have useful additional information from other members.

In the meantime I'll nudge them up one-by-one, without swamping the board.


MarieCeleste Report 12 Jun 2014 09:55

Personally, I think Jonesey's tip should have their own board.


Kense Report 1 Nov 2014 08:22