If you find that your ancestor is missing from the Civil Registration records what do you do next?
I was asked this question over the weekend by a family history researcher who had discovered that his ancestor appeared in a census as a very young child in the 1860s.
The problem was that the baby’s civil registration and baptism records was frustratingly missing. The census provided a date, 1860, and a place where the person had been born, but a search of all the subscription sites as well as FamilySearch and the General Register Office website drew a blank.
If you have a similar research problem then this is my advice:
- It is possible that the parents may have changed the child’s name in between registering it and the time of the census in 1861. Therefore think about searching for just the surname and the town of birth in the relevant year to see if you find a likely contender.
- Did the child miss being registered? It is thought that up to 15% of children were not registered at all. If your ancestor had siblings check to see if they were registered as this may point to whether the family were able to keep under the radar of the authorities. Registration was only made compulsory from 1875 and the onus was then on parents to go and inform the local registrar, before this date it was the registrar who collected the details.
- My best guess is that the civil registration actually did take place, but that the registrar simply got it wrong and recorded the name incorrectly. I always try to think of what alternative names could have been used. If you think your ancestor is a Josiah, look also for Joshua, John, Joseph, Isaiah etc.
- With regard to baptism, consider if the parents have had the child baptised in a nearby parish? (Look for a contiguous parish in Phillimore’s or use the mapping tool on FamilySearch.
- If it was different. perhaps they went to the Parish Church associated with the mother’s parish. Check where she had been from before she married.
- Another thing to consider was that the child was baptised by a nonconformist minister – they often held on to their own registers and when they moved from one chapel in one town to another they could have taken the register with them. This would mean that it may not be where you would expect it to be!
If you are interested in discovering more about where to research for your English or Welsh family history, then my course is a great way to learn more: www.FamilyHistoryResearcher.com/course