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Reliability of Registrations and Certificates (E&W)

Posted: 08 Sep 2019 19:48
by davidf
I am trying to track down a possible child (now an adult) who was adopted out of a family. This is in England and Wales

Looking for the birth registration I expected to find a female child whose surname matched the mother's surname - usually a sign of an illegitimate birth; If that child was then adopted that name would disappear from official records (except in the very rare situation where a child kept their birth name on adoption). I could then request the birth certificate and if the child was adopted there would be a note in the right hand margin.

The few possibles could be quickly excluded because I found later records for the same person in their birth name (which they would have lost if they had been adopted).

I thought this might mean that I had hit a brick wall. Until that is I had a slightly surreal email exchange with a registrar.

Q.
... how easy would it have been in 1953/54 for a woman to give a false name when registering a birth?
A.
... It is only recently that documents such as birth and marriage certificates have been requested when registering a birth. in the 1950's parents would not be asked to bring any identification with them, the registrar would only record what names the parents gave.
Q.
... if in the 50's the registrar relied on what the registrant claimed, would a mother (wearing a wedding ring) be able to assert that she was married and register a birth of child (Surname X) and give her maiden name as Y?
My understanding is that fathers only had to be present if the parents were unmarried and he wished the child to be registered with his surname (declarations of fatherhood only coming later)?
A.
A mother could come in on her own and claim she was married (even if she wasn't) and give maiden name
This would seem to mean that any female registration in the possible time window could be the individual I am trying to trace!

For reasons that I will not go into (long story) I thought the name might be Jane Elaine Joyson. There is no one of that name registered in the relevant period, but there is an Eileen Joyson - and I cannot find any subsequent records for that name. I have applied for Eileen's birth certificate and GRO returned part of my fee saying:
We have been unable to process your application, please refer to the paragraph below.

There is no trace of the above mentioned person at the reference you quoted.
I am waiting for them to get back to me as to why this situation might occur. The application detail has been very carefully checked against the image of the registration index and adopted persons' birth certificates are not closed - the new name is not on the certificate - there is not even a reference to the court order.

Questions
  1. Have others come across potentially irregular registrations such as the registrar implied could happen?
  2. Have others come across GRO being unable to trace a registration to a certificate? What reasons have been given
Thanks

Re: Reliability of Registrations and Certificates (E&W)

Posted: 08 Sep 2019 20:17
by LornaCraig
In answer to your first question, yes. I have a well documented case, though it took quite a lot of work to find all the evidence and work it out.

It dates from the period 1913 to 1917. An unmarried woman whose surname was W gave birth to three illegitimate children. When she registered their births she claimed to be Mrs X, inventing a husband, and gave her own maiden name as Y. So in this case even the mother's maiden name as recorded on the birth certificates was wrong. In fact the father of the children was a married man whose surname was Z. She married him decades later, after he was widowed, and only then gave her true maiden name, W. The children continued to be known by the name under which they were registered, X.

So there were four different surnames involved!

Re: Reliability of Registrations and Certificates (E&W)

Posted: 08 Sep 2019 20:34
by tatewise
I was fairly sure that evidence of names was not requested when registering Births and Deaths until relatively recently.
So it is surprising that there are not many more such examples.

Re: Reliability of Registrations and Certificates (E&W)

Posted: 08 Sep 2019 21:57
by AdrianBruce
davidf wrote:
08 Sep 2019 19:48
...
  1. Have others come across GRO being unable to trace a registration to a certificate? What reasons have been given
...
Yes. See http://www.whodoyouthinkyouaremagazine. ... lit=%20ivy should you want full details, but in essence what appeared to happen was that the child was to be adopted from birth (informally - this was 1918). The adoptive mother registered the birth but (we assume afterwards) the birth mother also did so. According to all the rules of the game the adoptive mother had no right to register that birth so that registration must have been cancelled, leaving only the one from the birth mother. However, it looks like the adoptive mother's registration got through to the GRO and, at some time later, had a "cancelled" annotation added (I say "cancellation" but have no idea of the text - it might be a replacement pointing at the correct one). The original GRO indexers failed to notice the cancellation so indexed it. FreeBMD then computerised that (cancelled - not that they could know) index. To make it worse, when the new GRO digital index was created, they again failed to notice the cancellation, so it's on the GRO web-site index. Only when I sent for it did they notice and refuse to issue the cancelled certificate. Rightly refused by their rules.

The initial GRO response was:
We have been unable to process your application, please refer to the paragraph below.
There is an inconsistency in the indexes which occurred when the index was compiled; we are therefore unable to trace an entry with the details supplied.
A full refund of ...
An interesting point was that the LancashireBMD site - made from the local Registrars' indexes, only contains the birth mother's registration even though both GRO certificates would have started out from the Liverpool office. Obviously Liverpool cancelled its own entry but the GRO failed to read the cancellation notes until the day I asked for a copy.

Re: Reliability of Registrations and Certificates (E&W)

Posted: 08 Sep 2019 22:13
by AdrianBruce
davidf wrote:
08 Sep 2019 19:48
... Looking for the birth registration I expected to find a female child whose surname matched the mother's surname - usually a sign of an illegitimate birth; ...
Point of clarification (or maybe not!)

Before 1969 the child's surname does not appear on the birth certificate. The surname on the index is derived by convention and the derivations are different for the old paper GRO indexes (e.g. FreeBMD) and the new digital index on the GRO site. In the old paper indexes, if the parents are married, the child is indexed only under the father's surname. If only the mother's name is there, no surprise, the child is indexed under the mother's name only. If the parents are unmarried and both names are there, then the child is indexed twice - once under each surname.

In the new digital GRO index, the rules are the same except for the last case - the new rule is that if the parents are unmarried and both names are there, then the child is indexed only under the father's surname. This can make life very difficult if the only surname that you know is the mother's.

Another point - a child might be illegitimate but still have a surname different from the mother's maiden name. This happened with Ivy in my previous reply.
HARRIS, IVY DELAPHINE MANNING
Mother's maiden surname WHITE
Her father's entry is empty. Her mother is described as "Nellie Harris formerly White". ("Manning" is a given name).

So what we think of as the normal rules don't always apply.