Importance Value of various Birth Sources


David Potter
 

Hi Forum.

I'm looking for advice on how to 'weight' birth sources in degree of importance. Of course not all will/may exist in my list below, and some will contain lesser info that others. But I'm looking for a recommendation on how to Rank the following types of Sources that support the Birth of an Individual.

I have one order of importance in mind: Birth Certifcate (if exists), Baptism, Death Certicate (if exists), Burial, Census - 1939, Marriage Certificate (if exists)

Can I have your views please.

Thank you

David Potter


uhkh3tsccmz9@beconfidential.com
 

David

"Importance" can mean so many things!

In terms of reliability, the nearer a record of the birth / the closer the relative, the more reliable (less likely to being miss-remembered or deliberately manipulated) it is likely to be:

  • A mother will remember in detail the day after
  • The father may be a bit hazy (even the next day) as to exactly which side of midnight the birth actually took place
  • A bride giving her age/date of birth for her wedding certificate may have reason to up it a bit (if under age) or lower it a bit (if older than the groom)
  • A son recording a death may be unreliable as to birth date due to never really being sure, being upset, wanting to record a particular date
  • A care home manager doing the same might simply repeat what the person told them "I'm 92 you know!" (yeah sure!)

In terms of which record a court might take as truth:

  • The Birth certificate is the official document of record, so other evidence would have to be very persuasive to trump the birth certificate

In term of precision some records give to the day, others may only give to a year, some others (e.g.. UK Census) it would have to be calculated from a claimed age (so how old are you in years the day before your birthday?)

In terms of sorting your sources against a birth fact in FH, I would probably follow your suggestions - unless I was uncertain about the reliability of some of the later records

David


Mike Tate
 

Hi David,

Your list is quite rational although early Census records may be more contemporary than later Marriage, Death, or Burial records.

In the Sources For yellow citations panel use the black up/down arrows to move the Source records into the desired precedence order.

Also the Assessment for each Source Citation could say how reliable you believe the information to be.

That should be just for the Birth information in this case, and will partly depend on how contemporary the record is.

i.e. a Birth Certificate or Baptism record is most contemporary with the Birth event, but later records less so, with Death or Burial being least contemporary.

 

Regards, Mike Tate

 

From: family-historian@groups.io <family-historian@groups.io> On Behalf Of David.potter5 via Groups.Io
Sent: 03 February 2020 15:51
To: family-historian@groups.io
Subject: [family-historian] Importance Value of various Birth Sources

 

Hi Forum.

I'm looking for advice on how to 'weight' birth sources in degree of importance. Of course not all will/may exist in my list below, and some will contain lesser info that others. But I'm looking for a recommendation on how to Rank the following types of Sources that support the Birth of an Individual.

I have one order of importance in mind: Birth Certifcate (if exists), Baptism, Death Certicate (if exists), Burial, Census - 1939, Marriage Certificate (if exists)

Can I have your views please.

Thank you

David Potter


Victor Markham
 

I would say any marriage certificate would be before death certificate. These would be more important than census details which you can think of as being supplementary to the certification.

This is the first message I have received via the new system and would say it is better than the old one

Victor

On 3 Feb 2020, at 18:25, "David.potter5 via Groups.Io" <googlemail.com@groups.io target=_blank>david.potter5=googlemail.com@groups.io> wrote:
Hi Forum.

I'm looking for advice on how to 'weight' birth sources in degree of importance. Of course not all will/may exist in my list below, and some will contain lesser info that others. But I'm looking for a recommendation on how to Rank the following types of Sources that support the Birth of an Individual.

I have one order of importance in mind: Birth Certifcate (if exists), Baptism, Death Certicate (if exists), Burial, Census - 1939, Marriage Certificate (if exists)

Can I have your views please.

Thank you

David Potter


Mike Tate
 

Whether a Marriage or Death certificate gives better information depends on a number of factors.

The following refers to the UK.

Many early Marriage Certificates simply say of Full Age which only tells you they are older than 21.

Whereas a Death Certificate or Burial record gives a specific Age at death.

Later Marriage Certificates do give the spouse’s Ages but no Place of Birth.

Whereas a Death Certificate gives an actual Date and Place of Birth.

So in my opinion a Death Certificate is usually better than a Marriage Certificate.

Also a Census record for a child usually gives an accurate Age and Place of Birth.

Regards, Mike Tate

 

From: family-historian@groups.io <family-historian@groups.io> On Behalf Of Victor Markham
Sent: 03 February 2020 18:46
To: family-historian@groups.io
Subject: Re: [family-historian] Importance Value of various Birth Sources

 

I would say any marriage certificate would be before death certificate. These would be more important than census details which you can think of as being supplementary to the certification.

This is the first message I have received via the new system and would say it is better than the old one

Victor

On 3 Feb 2020, at 18:25, "David.potter5 via Groups.Io" <googlemail.com@groups.io target=_blank>david.potter5=googlemail.com@groups.io> wrote:

Hi Forum.

I'm looking for advice on how to 'weight' birth sources in degree of importance. Of course not all will/may exist in my list below, and some will contain lesser info that others. But I'm looking for a recommendation on how to Rank the following types of Sources that support the Birth of an Individual.

I have one order of importance in mind: Birth Certifcate (if exists), Baptism, Death Certicate (if exists), Burial, Census - 1939, Marriage Certificate (if exists)

Can I have your views please.

Thank you

David Potter


John Hanson
 

Whilst I will agree with Mike on the theory behind his list from having looked at so many certificates over the years there are pitfalls with all certificates

 

I remember helping at the FindMyPast stand at the last WDYTYA Live event and being asked by someone why her husbands entry in the 1939 register was not unlocked.
He had died in 1985 so there was no real reason that I could see other than the data from the certificate did not match the register
Then she suddenly said “Would it matter if I got his date of birth wrong on the death certifacte”!!
So I sent her to go and talk to the GRO about how to change it

I also remember when I went with my mum to register dad’s death in 2001 being asked about his place of birth
So I gave the address – was not what they wanted. They wanted the registration district
The one that it actually was did not appear on her list so had to talk the modern equivalent which could lead someone who didn’t know any better to the wrong person

 

Death certificate in fact often have more errors than most as the person who really knows the answers is the one who can’t answer them – the deceased

Regards
John Hanson - researching the Halstead/Holstead/Alstead names
Researcher, the Halsted Trust - https://www.halsted.org.uk
Research website - https://www.halstedresearch.org.uk

 

From: family-historian@groups.io <family-historian@groups.io> On Behalf Of Mike Tate
Sent: 03 February 2020 23:30
To: family-historian@groups.io
Subject: Re: [family-historian] Importance Value of various Birth Sources

 

Whether a Marriage or Death certificate gives better information depends on a number of factors.

The following refers to the UK.

Many early Marriage Certificates simply say of Full Age which only tells you they are older than 21.

Whereas a Death Certificate or Burial record gives a specific Age at death.

Later Marriage Certificates do give the spouse’s Ages but no Place of Birth.

Whereas a Death Certificate gives an actual Date and Place of Birth.

So in my opinion a Death Certificate is usually better than a Marriage Certificate.

Also a Census record for a child usually gives an accurate Age and Place of Birth.

Regards, Mike Tate

 

From: family-historian@groups.io <family-historian@groups.io> On Behalf Of Victor Markham
Sent: 03 February 2020 18:46
To: family-historian@groups.io
Subject: Re: [family-historian] Importance Value of various Birth Sources

 

I would say any marriage certificate would be before death certificate. These would be more important than census details which you can think of as being supplementary to the certification.

This is the first message I have received via the new system and would say it is better than the old one

Victor

On 3 Feb 2020, at 18:25, "David.potter5 via Groups.Io" <googlemail.com@groups.io target=_blank>david.potter5=googlemail.com@groups.io> wrote:

Hi Forum.

I'm looking for advice on how to 'weight' birth sources in degree of importance. Of course not all will/may exist in my list below, and some will contain lesser info that others. But I'm looking for a recommendation on how to Rank the following types of Sources that support the Birth of an Individual.

I have one order of importance in mind: Birth Certifcate (if exists), Baptism, Death Certicate (if exists), Burial, Census - 1939, Marriage Certificate (if exists)

Can I have your views please.

Thank you

David Potter


Victor Markham
 

Mike

Only the modern death certificates gave place of birth and date. Perhaps it started from the 1960's. I have just checked a 1969 certificate that gives date and place of birth

Those of the 1950's and earlier don't.

Marriage certificates are prone to errors. For example my fathers first marriage gave his father's Christian name as Thomas when it is George. His bride's father's name is Thomas

Like you say death certificate is more reliable than marriage certificate

I have come across census records as giving a different place of birth in different census years

Regards

Victor

On 03/02/2020 11:29 pm, Mike Tate wrote:

Whether a Marriage or Death certificate gives better information depends on a number of factors.

The following refers to the UK.

Many early Marriage Certificates simply say of Full Age which only tells you they are older than 21.

Whereas a Death Certificate or Burial record gives a specific Age at death.

Later Marriage Certificates do give the spouse’s Ages but no Place of Birth.

Whereas a Death Certificate gives an actual Date and Place of Birth.

So in my opinion a Death Certificate is usually better than a Marriage Certificate.

Also a Census record for a child usually gives an accurate Age and Place of Birth.

Regards, Mike Tate

 

From: family-historian@groups.io <family-historian@groups.io> On Behalf Of Victor Markham
Sent: 03 February 2020 18:46
To: family-historian@groups.io
Subject: Re: [family-historian] Importance Value of various Birth Sources

 

I would say any marriage certificate would be before death certificate. These would be more important than census details which you can think of as being supplementary to the certification.

This is the first message I have received via the new system and would say it is better than the old one

Victor

On 3 Feb 2020, at 18:25, "David.potter5 via Groups.Io" <googlemail.com@groups.io target=_blank>david.potter5=googlemail.com@groups.io> wrote:

Hi Forum.

I'm looking for advice on how to 'weight' birth sources in degree of importance. Of course not all will/may exist in my list below, and some will contain lesser info that others. But I'm looking for a recommendation on how to Rank the following types of Sources that support the Birth of an Individual.

I have one order of importance in mind: Birth Certifcate (if exists), Baptism, Death Certicate (if exists), Burial, Census - 1939, Marriage Certificate (if exists)

Can I have your views please.

Thank you

David Potter


ShaneB
 

I have a death certificate that shows how questionable the data on a certificate can be. This decreased is shown as having been widowed and having no kids. In fact, he was still married and had five children.

His wife, who also claimed to be widowed in the same year that he had been "widowed", had remarried.

On details on certificates: in Australia, they were issued by the colonies and subsequently by the States and Territories. Consequently, historically at least, they've all been a little different and of varying value. Early South Australian certificates have little more than a name and date!


ShaneB
 

On Tue, Feb 4, 2020 at 04:31 PM, ShaneB wrote:
This decreased is shown as having been widowed and having no kids. In fact, he was still married and had five children.
Argh!

"This decreased" should of course be "the deceased".

Auto spell checking isn't always helpful!


David De Maine
 

I also agree with John. The information on the certificate or printout is only as good as the information that was given to the informant. And that information may not have been right in the first place.

In the case of my paternal grandmother the information she gave to one of her sons prior to her dying about her previous marriages, date of birth and birth place were completely false.

Also her first marriage certificate was full of inconsistencies for both her and her husband. Mind you she had a lot to hide.

If you are able, you need to verify everything you can on all birth, marriage and death certificates from other sources.  However unfortunately this is not always practical.

Regards

David De Maine

On 04-Feb-20 8:39 PM, John Hanson wrote:

Whilst I will agree with Mike on the theory behind his list from having looked at so many certificates over the years there are pitfalls with all certificates

 

I remember helping at the FindMyPast stand at the last WDYTYA Live event and being asked by someone why her husbands entry in the 1939 register was not unlocked.
He had died in 1985 so there was no real reason that I could see other than the data from the certificate did not match the register
Then she suddenly said “Would it matter if I got his date of birth wrong on the death certifacte”!!
So I sent her to go and talk to the GRO about how to change it

I also remember when I went with my mum to register dad’s death in 2001 being asked about his place of birth
So I gave the address – was not what they wanted. They wanted the registration district
The one that it actually was did not appear on her list so had to talk the modern equivalent which could lead someone who didn’t know any better to the wrong person

 

Death certificate in fact often have more errors than most as the person who really knows the answers is the one who can’t answer them – the deceased

Regards
John Hanson - researching the Halstead/Holstead/Alstead names
Researcher, the Halsted Trust - https://www.halsted.org.uk
Research website - https://www.halstedresearch.org.uk

 

From: family-historian@groups.io <family-historian@groups.io> On Behalf Of Mike Tate
Sent: 03 February 2020 23:30
To: family-historian@groups.io
Subject: Re: [family-historian] Importance Value of various Birth Sources

 

Whether a Marriage or Death certificate gives better information depends on a number of factors.

The following refers to the UK.

Many early Marriage Certificates simply say of Full Age which only tells you they are older than 21.

Whereas a Death Certificate or Burial record gives a specific Age at death.

Later Marriage Certificates do give the spouse’s Ages but no Place of Birth.

Whereas a Death Certificate gives an actual Date and Place of Birth.

So in my opinion a Death Certificate is usually better than a Marriage Certificate.

Also a Census record for a child usually gives an accurate Age and Place of Birth.

Regards, Mike Tate

 

From: family-historian@groups.io <family-historian@groups.io> On Behalf Of Victor Markham
Sent: 03 February 2020 18:46
To: family-historian@groups.io
Subject: Re: [family-historian] Importance Value of various Birth Sources

 

I would say any marriage certificate would be before death certificate. These would be more important than census details which you can think of as being supplementary to the certification.

This is the first message I have received via the new system and would say it is better than the old one

Victor

On 3 Feb 2020, at 18:25, "David.potter5 via Groups.Io" <googlemail.com@groups.io target=_blank>david.potter5=googlemail.com@groups.io> wrote:

Hi Forum.

I'm looking for advice on how to 'weight' birth sources in degree of importance. Of course not all will/may exist in my list below, and some will contain lesser info that others. But I'm looking for a recommendation on how to Rank the following types of Sources that support the Birth of an Individual.

I have one order of importance in mind: Birth Certifcate (if exists), Baptism, Death Certicate (if exists), Burial, Census - 1939, Marriage Certificate (if exists)

Can I have your views please.

Thank you

David Potter


Pauline Parnell
 

I’ve got a couple of very dodgy certificates. The first is a death certificate where the lodger was the informant and was five years out with the age. That caused a brick wall which was finally resolved by a DNA test. The second is my great-grandfather’s birth certificate. Apparently he was rather proud of the fact that he had more birthdays than the king - his real one, the date on his baptism and the date given on his birth certificate, made up to avoid the fine for late registration.
I have an interesting family 😂


ninajenkins19@...
 

When I started family history over 30 years ago I was told to ideally confirm each piece of evidence from 3 sources before trusting it totally. I have always found that excellent advice


John Hanson
 

Pauline
One of the first things I look at when doing my advice sessions these days is the number of days between birth and registration – 42 is always a good indicator that the birth date might be wrong
Regards

John

 

From: family-historian@groups.io <family-historian@groups.io> On Behalf Of Pauline Parnell
Sent: 04 February 2020 09:03
To: family-historian@groups.io
Subject: Re: [family-historian] Importance Value of various Birth Sources

 

I’ve got a couple of very dodgy certificates. The first is a death certificate where the lodger was the informant and was five years out with the age. That caused a brick wall which was finally resolved by a DNA test. The second is my great-grandfather’s birth certificate. Apparently he was rather proud of the fact that he had more birthdays than the king - his real one, the date on his baptism and the date given on his birth certificate, made up to avoid the fine for late registration.

I have an interesting family 😂


Mike Tate
 

John,

My list was not meant to be definitive, but simply that each Source document must be judged on its merit.

That is often governed by how contemporary the details are with respect to the event they describe.

To say that a Death certificate often has more errors than most other types only applies to the birth or age details.

The other details such as name, date & place of death, and the informant are contemporary with the death and so quite reliable.

 

Regards, Mike Tate

 

From: family-historian@groups.io <family-historian@groups.io> On Behalf Of John Hanson
Sent: 04 February 2020 07:39
To: family-historian@groups.io
Subject: Re: [family-historian] Importance Value of various Birth Sources

 

Whilst I will agree with Mike on the theory behind his list from having looked at so many certificates over the years there are pitfalls with all certificates

 

I remember helping at the FindMyPast stand at the last WDYTYA Live event and being asked by someone why her husbands entry in the 1939 register was not unlocked.
He had died in 1985 so there was no real reason that I could see other than the data from the certificate did not match the register
Then she suddenly said “Would it matter if I got his date of birth wrong on the death certifacte”!!
So I sent her to go and talk to the GRO about how to change it

I also remember when I went with my mum to register dad’s death in 2001 being asked about his place of birth
So I gave the address – was not what they wanted. They wanted the registration district
The one that it actually was did not appear on her list so had to talk the modern equivalent which could lead someone who didn’t know any better to the wrong person

 

Death certificate in fact often have more errors than most as the person who really knows the answers is the one who can’t answer them – the deceased

Regards
John Hanson - researching the Halstead/Holstead/Alstead names
Researcher, the Halsted Trust - https://www.halsted.org.uk
Research website - https://www.halstedresearch.org.uk

 

From: family-historian@groups.io <family-historian@groups.io> On Behalf Of Mike Tate
Sent: 03 February 2020 23:30
To: family-historian@groups.io
Subject: Re: [family-historian] Importance Value of various Birth Sources

 

Whether a Marriage or Death certificate gives better information depends on a number of factors.

The following refers to the UK.

Many early Marriage Certificates simply say of Full Age which only tells you they are older than 21.

Whereas a Death Certificate or Burial record gives a specific Age at death.

Later Marriage Certificates do give the spouse’s Ages but no Place of Birth.

Whereas a Death Certificate gives an actual Date and Place of Birth.

So in my opinion a Death Certificate is usually better than a Marriage Certificate.

Also a Census record for a child usually gives an accurate Age and Place of Birth.

Regards, Mike Tate

 

From: family-historian@groups.io <family-historian@groups.io> On Behalf Of Victor Markham
Sent: 03 February 2020 18:46
To: family-historian@groups.io
Subject: Re: [family-historian] Importance Value of various Birth Sources

 

I would say any marriage certificate would be before death certificate. These would be more important than census details which you can think of as being supplementary to the certification.

This is the first message I have received via the new system and would say it is better than the old one

Victor

On 3 Feb 2020, at 18:25, "David.potter5 via Groups.Io" <googlemail.com@groups.io target=_blank>david.potter5=googlemail.com@groups.io> wrote:

Hi Forum.

I'm looking for advice on how to 'weight' birth sources in degree of importance. Of course not all will/may exist in my list below, and some will contain lesser info that others. But I'm looking for a recommendation on how to Rank the following types of Sources that support the Birth of an Individual.

I have one order of importance in mind: Birth Certifcate (if exists), Baptism, Death Certicate (if exists), Burial, Census - 1939, Marriage Certificate (if exists)

Can I have your views please.

Thank you

David Potter

_._,_._,_


Mike Tate
 

Victor,

Yes, date & place of birth on UK Death Certificates only started in 1969.

Yes, census records and all certificates are prone to errors.

But the younger the person the more likely the details will be accurate.

My list is not meant to be definitive, but simply that each Source document must be judged on its merit.

That is often governed by how contemporary the details are with respect to the event they describe.

So for example date & place of birth on a Death certificate may be erroneous (except for children) whereas the death details should be accurate.

Regards, Mike Tate

 

From: family-historian@groups.io <family-historian@groups.io> On Behalf Of Victor Markham
Sent: 04 February 2020 08:22
To: family-historian@groups.io
Subject: Re: [family-historian] Importance Value of various Birth Sources

 

Mike

Only the modern death certificates gave place of birth and date. Perhaps it started from the 1960's. I have just checked a 1969 certificate that gives date and place of birth

Those of the 1950's and earlier don't.

Marriage certificates are prone to errors. For example my fathers first marriage gave his father's Christian name as Thomas when it is George. His bride's father's name is Thomas

Like you say death certificate is more reliable than marriage certificate

I have come across census records as giving a different place of birth in different census years

Regards

Victor

On 03/02/2020 11:29 pm, Mike Tate wrote:

Whether a Marriage or Death certificate gives better information depends on a number of factors.

The following refers to the UK.

Many early Marriage Certificates simply say of Full Age which only tells you they are older than 21.

Whereas a Death Certificate or Burial record gives a specific Age at death.

Later Marriage Certificates do give the spouse’s Ages but no Place of Birth.

Whereas a Death Certificate gives an actual Date and Place of Birth.

So in my opinion a Death Certificate is usually better than a Marriage Certificate.

Also a Census record for a child usually gives an accurate Age and Place of Birth.

Regards, Mike Tate

 

From: family-historian@groups.io <family-historian@groups.io> On Behalf Of Victor Markham
Sent: 03 February 2020 18:46
To: family-historian@groups.io
Subject: Re: [family-historian] Importance Value of various Birth Sources

 

I would say any marriage certificate would be before death certificate. These would be more important than census details which you can think of as being supplementary to the certification.

This is the first message I have received via the new system and would say it is better than the old one

Victor

On 3 Feb 2020, at 18:25, "David.potter5 via Groups.Io" <googlemail.com@groups.io target=_blank>david.potter5=googlemail.com@groups.io> wrote:

Hi Forum.

I'm looking for advice on how to 'weight' birth sources in degree of importance. Of course not all will/may exist in my list below, and some will contain lesser info that others. But I'm looking for a recommendation on how to Rank the following types of Sources that support the Birth of an Individual.

I have one order of importance in mind: Birth Certifcate (if exists), Baptism, Death Certicate (if exists), Burial, Census - 1939, Marriage Certificate (if exists)

Can I have your views please.

Thank you

David Potter

_._,_._,_


Mike Tate
 

John forgot to explain the significance of 42 days.

The law said Births had to be registered within 6 weeks (6 x 7 = 42 days).

Regards, Mike Tate

 

From: family-historian@groups.io <family-historian@groups.io> On Behalf Of John Hanson
Sent: 04 February 2020 09:56
To: family-historian@groups.io
Subject: Re: [family-historian] Importance Value of various Birth Sources

 

Pauline
One of the first things I look at when doing my advice sessions these days is the number of days between birth and registration – 42 is always a good indicator that the birth date might be wrong
Regards

John

 

From: family-historian@groups.io <family-historian@groups.io> On Behalf Of Pauline Parnell
Sent: 04 February 2020 09:03
To: family-historian@groups.io
Subject: Re: [family-historian] Importance Value of various Birth Sources

 

I’ve got a couple of very dodgy certificates. The first is a death certificate where the lodger was the informant and was five years out with the age. That caused a brick wall which was finally resolved by a DNA test. The second is my great-grandfather’s birth certificate. Apparently he was rather proud of the fact that he had more birthdays than the king - his real one, the date on his baptism and the date given on his birth certificate, made up to avoid the fine for late registration.

I have an interesting family 😂

_._,_._,_


Jon
 

Hi

If I may add to the conversation, in my 30 years experience of BMD certificates I would say that any details contained therein will still need checking as in each type of certificate there can be anomalies. I have a birth certificate with the wrong mothers name given (by a midwife presumably who registered the birth, for whatever reason). A couple of death certificates where the age is out by nearly 10 years. A marriage certificate that is so fabricated it was obviously subterfuge on behalf of the couple. Whatever is recorded is only as true as the information supplied by the person(s) at the time. That being said, most records are generally accurate, but don't always believe what is 'officially' recorded.
Regards
Jon


John Hanson
 

My best is my paternal Great Great Grandfather Henry NOYCE born in 1843 and his birth certificate from the GRO says that he is a “Girl”
I tried once to get an answer from the registration district but like most London ones refers you to the GRO!!!

Regards

John

 

From: family-historian@groups.io <family-historian@groups.io> On Behalf Of Jon
Sent: 04 February 2020 10:31
To: family-historian@groups.io
Subject: Re: [family-historian] Importance Value of various Birth Sources

 

Hi

If I may add to the conversation, in my 30 years experience of BMD certificates I would say that any details contained therein will still need checking as in each type of certificate there can be anomalies. I have a birth certificate with the wrong mothers name given (by a midwife presumably who registered the birth, for whatever reason). A couple of death certificates where the age is out by nearly 10 years. A marriage certificate that is so fabricated it was obviously subterfuge on behalf of the couple. Whatever is recorded is only as true as the information supplied by the person(s) at the time. That being said, most records are generally accurate, but don't always believe what is 'officially' recorded.
Regards
Jon


Adrian Bruce
 

On Tue, Feb 4, 2020, 09:40 Nina Jenkins <... ideally confirm each piece of evidence from 3 sources before trusting it totally. 

Even there, we have to be sensible about it - it does say, "ideally" after all. 

I'd hope that no-one would regard 3 Ancestry trees as satisfying the required level of trust - especially not if they all copied the same original.

And once you're well back before civil registration and censuses, there may be no other evidence of birth date other than the baptism - no age on marriage or burial or anything else - so many people will have only one source for their birth date.

The Genealogical Proof Standard is not the answer to everything but it has good advice here when it requires "a reasonably exhaustive search" (I think that's the phrase). Get what you can and when you've exhausted what it is reasonable to look for, don't worry about it any more.

Adrian


Robert Flood
 

I must admit to being old & cynical and take the attitude that information in records is probably wrong until proved otherwise.

Birth certificates and christening records should be fine but ... It has already been pointed out that the date of birth may be falsified if the registration is late & christening records may be more accurate. However what do you do if a child is registered as Fred Swale and christened as Frederick Swales (he used the latter throughout his life) or worse registered as Ada Annie Swales but christened as Ada Annie Davy, she was born before her parents were married, they could fool the registrar but not the local clergyman.

I have one child christened in two different churches about twenty miles apart on the same day. As far as we can make out both churches were on the clergyman's circuit and he had mixed up the scraps of paper on which he had noted information for services on two different days, when he came to copy the information into the registers he couldn't remember which was which so entered all the records into both church registers.

Sometimes the clergyman can be really helpful, having searched fruitlessly for a Mortlock marriage across quite a few Norfolk parishes when all was revealed by the parish register entry for the christening of one of their children which contained a snippy remark from the clergyman "This couple live as man & wife but they are not married". Census returns & death records recorded them as married.

Marriage certificates, well their names are probably right but age, place of residence, father, occpations? Age may be the best they know but not right or may be deliberately wrong if one is under age or if there is a significant difference between their ages. Residence, if one or both do not live in the parish then rent a room for a month while the banns are being read, shove a suitcase in the room, never stay there but give it as your residence - it is surprising how often that happened. Occupation, big it up a bit to look more impressive. Father, if you were illegitimate or there had been a family breakup then put down your grandfather or your brother, or even invent someone.

Census returns, in a lot of cases best guess rather than accurate information even for children. Now was little Johnny born while we were it Lower Piddley or just after we moved to Upper Snodbury in the next county, it was around that time? I have someone who was born in Berkshire but whose parents invariably gave her place of birth as a town in Hertfordshire where they had moved not long after her birth. Age, best remembered figure, they could tell you the date but not necessarily year. Also the birth date effect, if little Johnny was born in October 1869, at the 1871 census on 2 April was he one (& a bit) or two? Most parents seem to have gone for the latter.

1939 Register should be accurate but again it depends on the information people gave and how accurate are their memories. I have several cases where the date is right but the year is wrong, usually one or two out ( or they were registered & christened a couple of years before they were born.

Death certificate, date, place & cause of death should be pretty accurate but until very recent times age/date of birth are no more that someone's best guess and can be way out.

The real fun is collecting all the information and collating it to try to work out what really happened.

Robert