14 Day Free Trial

Cautionary Tales

Birth, marriage and death certificates are expensive and it is tempting to cut corners where we can.
This can cause real problems with research; two examples from my own experience are here. One marriage certificate I didn’t get until two years later and one death certificate I almost didn’t get because I already knew the date of death from the gravestone.

Not getting a certificate:

I needed a marriage certificate for one branch of my husband’s family but funds were tight. I studied the census records for his great grandmother Hannah Rushton. I knew her name from her son’s birth certificate. There were two from the same small village in Staffordshire. I guessed, I assumed. Never again. My husband took the information I had from the census and searched parish registers at Stafford record office and we were really pleased with his findings. We went back 200 years with this Rushton family.

Two years later, finances were a little better. I decided to get the marriage certificate to tidy up the records. Horror! I had guessed the wrong Hannah. They weren’t even related. Their families came from a totally different area of Staffordshire, miles away. Those 200 years of research were useless.

All because I didn’t buy a certificate when I should have.

Getting a certificate I possibly didn’t need:

Mary Ann Newey is buried in the churchyard at St Peter and St Paul, Exton, Rutland with her husband Charles. There is a stone, I have seen it. The dates are on it; I didn’t need the death certificate.
Charles was born in India, his father Thomas was in the 17th Foot Leicestershire Regiment in India. Thomas had two wives and six children born in India. A 2nd cousin of mine had been to the India Office and done all of the research and sent me copies. Thomas Newey retired in 1818 in India. Where did he go after that? Who knows!
This was before all census records were available on Ancestry.

Back to Mary Ann, I decided I would get her death certificate to make up the set. First problem: Mary Ann was from Exton, which comes under Oakham district. The only death that fitted was in Stamford, Lincolnshire. I thought, well I’ll risk it.
When it arrived the information it gave was that Mary Ann Newey was the wife of Charles Newey, a tailor of Exton. Mary Ann died in hospital in Stamford. The problem was the informant:
William Newey, tailor of Stamford, brother in law.

Brother in law? Charles didn’t have a brother William.
Back to the census, William was indeed a tailor from Stamford. I tracked him backwards. He was born in Easton on the Hill, Northamptonshire. His father was Thomas Newey and his mother Anne nee Holmes (source the IGI).
Thomas and Ann had eleven children, the last one being born when Thomas was 73. I have checked this with original parish registers.
I found Thomas on the 1841 census in Easton on the Hill and in 1851 in Stamford. I then found his burial on the National Burial Index in 1853 and also purchased his death certificate. I discovered later that Thomas Newey had married a 3rd time after he came back from India.

All of this because I did buy a certificate when I very nearly didn’t.

Margaret in Burton