Monday, March 30, 2009

Tuesday Teachings - Two Essentials for English Research

One of the most important things you need to know when researching English and Welsh ancestors is the parish and the registration district in which they were born, married and died, especially before 1974. Knowing this information will save you some money and a whole lot of aggravation when ordering birth, marriage and death registration certificates from the General Register Office.

For example, my ancestor Joseph George was born in Wales. From information on the 1861 Wales Census (RG 9, Piece 4170, Folio 106, Page 4, Schedule 16) it states he was born in St. Dogwells, Pembrokeshire. Funny, I thought he was born in the parish of St. Dogmells. Perhaps there is a spelling error. Which registration district is this parish located?

The Phillimore Atlas & Index of Parish Registers, 3rd Edition, edited by Cecil R. Humphery-Smith is an essential resource. A search in the Index reveals St. Dogwell's and St. Dogmael's are two different parishes. St. Dogwell's is in Haverfordwest registration district. St. Dogmael's is in the registration district of Cardigan. The cost of this book may be prohibitive to some researchers as it is quite pricey at £50.00. Check your local library or Family History Centre (FHC) to see if they have a copy you can use.

A far more affordable option is a book titled Parishes & Registration Districts in England & Wales... by Dr. Penelope Christensen. It costs $18.00 at the Click on Heritage Books from the left side menu, then "The England Series" link. You will find the book listed there.

I have a copy of both books on my shelf. I use them both when researching my English and Welsh ancestors.

Now that I know the registration district for St. Dogwell's and St. Dogmael's, I can search for my ancestor, Joseph George on FreeBMD to find the information I need to order the birth registration certificate. I don't necessarily need the registration district in order to do a search, but it certainly helps to narrower the search results. This especially true if your ancestor had a common name like David Davies. Again, from the census records I know Joseph George was born about 1855.

A search for Joseph George born between March 1854 and December 1856 in Cardigan registration district resulted in no matches. The same search in Haverfordwest registration district yielded the result below.

With this information I can order the birth registration certificate for Joseph.

In next week's edition of Tuesday Teachings I will discuss how to order birth, marriage and death certificates from the General Register Office in England.