Published 16 April 2018
“Chasing Paper Skeletons” was the subject of April’s talk given by Marion Armstrong a genealogist and former registrar for North Staffordshire.
Marion introduced us to the basics of beginning the search for our ancestors. Most people know the names of their parents and possibly their grandparents but very little besides. Marion explained the importance of birth and marriage certificates as the starting point for any search. Birth certificates provide not only a child’s name and date of birth but the name of the father, his occupation and the mother’s maiden name. Marriage certificates – in addition to the names of the couple being married – provide their ages, date and place of the marriage, their address and the names and occupations of both fathers. The birth certificate of your father will therefore provide your paternal grandfather’s name and occupation and your paternal grandmother’s maiden name. The marriage certificate of your grandparents will then provide the names and occupations of both great grandfathers and so on. Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths began in 1837 for earlier dates parish registers are required. Once you have the necessary information – name, date of birth and area in which your ancestor lived it is possible to search the census returns. The census is taken every 10 years and returns are available from 1841 – 1911. There is a one hundred years rule on the disclosure of census information and the next census – the census of 1921 – will be available in 2021. The census return provides names, ages, marital status and occupation of everyone within a particular household on the date of the census. Marion provided some humorous examples from the 1911 census – the first to be completed by the actual householder. The father who gave his 3-year-old year son’s occupation as – “running about” while another gave the name of the family servant as “Peter Tabby” occupation “Mouser” and a farmer who under the section headed “Infirmity” added “short of cash.” Additional sources of information providing an insight into the lives of our ancestors include newspaper archives, wills, passenger lists and prison records many of which are available online.
To conclude her talk Marion shared with us the weird and wonderful names children have been given over the centuries. It seems that this is not just a modern trend! Examples included: A girl born in 1892 surname Waters – Christian name Mineral. A girl born in 1883 with 25 Christian names one for each letter of the alphabet apart from P – her surname was Pepper. Boys fared no better. One boy “Timeof” was named after his father and grandfather before him – their surname – Day. Most unfortunate of all perhaps was young master Goldstone whose parents gave him the name “Onetoomany” Goldstone. Poor child!
Our next meeting will be on Wednesday May 2nd when we will be visiting Matlock Bath.