Friday, July 27, 2007

Compulsory civil registration, and new databases.

There was an interesting discussion on the Forum recently concerning civil registration and whether or not registration was compulsory for births prior to 1874 – it turns out that it was, but the onus was on the registrar to collect the information, rather than the parents to report it. This perhaps helps to explain the details on one of the certificates I bought some years ago – Albert Edward Parry, son of David and Jane Parry, was born on the 2nd July 1865, at 18 Neville St. Abergavenny, and christened on the 21st July 1865 in the Abergavenny Methodist Church (according to a transcript of the church records that I obtained after buying the birth certificate). However, his birth was registered on the 23rd December 1865 by Mary Yarnold, of Neville St, Abergavenny, who was present at the birth and who gave the date of birth as the 16th July. She also reported the mother to be Jane Parry (i.e. no maiden name) and gave no father’s name.

A search of the 1881 census, the only census easily available at the time, revealed Mary Yarnold to be a lodging house keeper.

I initially had difficulty in obtaining the certificate from the local registrar – because I had given the father’s name as David Parry and the mother as being either an Esther or a Jane. This was because, at that time, all I knew was that Esther, David’s first wife, had still been alive in 1861 but that, by 1871, he was married to a Jane. I was therefore trying to narrow down the likely timescale for the death and remarriage by identifying Albert’s mother. Since the certificate gave every appearance of Jane having been an unmarried mother, the staff at the Registry Office thought the details were too different for it to be the right certificate but, with a bit of persuasion, they did send it to me. Although I was convinced it was the correct one, I often wondered why the certificate was worded as it was. Finding the baptism seemed to put paid to my theory that David and Jane had been unmarried at the time and that Jane had perhaps taken herself off to a lodging house to have the baby “quietly”. Perhaps the explanation is actually just that the parents didn’t register the birth. Then, months later, either through general conversation or specifically checking likely places, the registrar found out about it and registered Albert with Mary supplying the details as she remembered them, just to ensure that a registration took place.

Later research traced the death of Esther on the 14 June 1861. The marriage of David and Jane still needs to be confirmed, since they don’t appear to have married until 1873, by which time they were probably expecting their third child.

I occasionally buy Parry related things from ebay – the most recent item was an auction catalogue for “The Parry collection”, a collecton of largely 18th century furniture made from either Welsh oak or of English walnut, which was sold at Christie’s in London in 1997. Little genealogical value to the catalogue, of course, but it’s interesting to have something which not only relates to a Parry family but also gives an insight into the items some Parrys may have been involved in making and others may have had in their homes.

There have been two databases mentioned on the Forum recently that are on the City of London site (although not that easy to find from their home page!) - the Diocese of London Consistory Court Wills Index, which has 19 Parry entries, as well as one Perry who is “otherwise Parry”, and the London Signatures Index of both Wills from the Archdeaconry Court of Middlesex and marriage bonds from the Commissary for the Archdeaconry of Surrey, which contains 12 Parry entries and 2 for the spelling Parrey. I still need to explore the information more thoroughly but there are a few familiar names so I know some of it will match to other information already held.

There’s also been a new index added to Ancestry - the Australian Convict Transportation Registers, which includes 55 Parry entries, and one with a middle name of Parry. Several of them were convicted in one of “my” three counties, so I shall have to try to find the records of their convictions as soon as possible. At least that should be fairly easy now I have conviction dates.

The marriage challenge at Blything has been completed with a 100% success record for Parrys, all 7 having been found. As if that wasn’t good enough, six of the marriages possibly relate to three generations of the same family, and their earliest ancestor found in the 1841 census, a John born abt 1780 outside of the county, was still alive in 1851 – from which it appears he was born in Hereford (one of my three main counties). And when I tracked down the couple from the 7th marriage in one of the censuses for London, it turns out that the groom was born in Breconshire, yet another of my main counties.

I’ve a bit of a backlog of emails at the moment - two new contacts on consecutive days at the beginning of July, and another two in the past four days, combined with the continuing correspondence with several others, means I currently have about 13 outstanding queries as well as the trees I said I’d check through for people. So, apologies if you’re waiting for a reply, I will get there eventually.

But I have just discovered that Ancestry now have the full British Army WWI Pension Records 1914-1920 online (rather than just the A and B surnames) so I think I just caught the “collecting bug” again!

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