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Motherless child in GRO birth records

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Motherless child in GRO birth records

Postby Gene-al » Tue Dec 13, 2016 8:54 pm

Recent comments about (-) in GRO birth record searches suggests the child's mother is unknown. What situation enables this to be the case? Perhaps the lady is married to someone else? Or died in childbirth?

Is it worth getting the certificate anyway in case of lack or bad transcription?

Are there any suggestions for finding the missing mother's name?

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Re: Motherless child in GRO birth records

Postby ermin79 » Tue Dec 13, 2016 9:18 pm

I could be wrong but as far as I am aware, when looking at the results from the new search facility for births on the GRO site a ' - ' in the mothers maiden name column means that the surname was the same as the child's, i.e.

SMITH, John .................... Mother's maiden name -

I read this as child is John Smith, mother's maiden name is Smith

This would mean that the mother would still be named, but she may be unmarried, hence the child has her surname, or I *think* she could be married if her maiden name was the same as her married surname.

I have a certificate for an illegitimate child and if I look up their entry in the new birth index it is in the format above, the mother is named on the certificate itself. I have never seen a certificate that is missing a mother's name, I would imagine this would only happen if the child was a foundling, although there are other forum members who have much more knowledge than I do about birth registrations.

I apologise if I am barking up completely the wrong tree!
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Re: Motherless child in GRO birth records

Postby JaneyH » Tue Dec 13, 2016 9:49 pm

I'd agree with ermin79, although I can only base this on one record where I have a certificate to cross reference against.

On the certificate the child's name is Thomas Henry Dyson, and the mother (who registered the birth) is shown as Harriet Dyson. The box for father's name is crossed through. On the new GRO index it has the child's name and shows "-" for mother's maiden name.

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Re: Motherless child in GRO birth records

Postby carobradford » Wed Dec 14, 2016 12:22 am

The - does not mean that the mother's name is unknown. It means that there is no *maiden name* for the mother shown on the certificate. The surname under which the birth is indexed is that of the mother, not the father. In 99.9% of cases, this means that the mother was unmarried and the child was illegitimate.
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Re: Motherless child in GRO birth records

Postby Mick Loney » Wed Dec 14, 2016 6:52 am

Following on from carobradford, where mother's maiden name is same as child, then this IS shown, so the premise that '-' means child and mothers have same surname is incorrect.

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Re: Motherless child in GRO birth records

Postby AntonyM » Wed Dec 14, 2016 8:51 am

All births should name the mother (other than a foundling entry).

Birth registrations don't give a surname for any child (until 1969), so how it is indexed is a matter of interpretation. If no father is shown then the entry is indexed under the mother's surname.

The "-" just indicates that no maiden name has been recorded during transcription. GRO's own help page says:

Why is Mother's Maiden Name shown in most, but not all birth indexes?
In some cases Mother's Maiden Name was not data captured, and will appear in the online index as a dash. However, where possible, we have enhanced the indexes to include Mothers Maiden Name where it has previously not been provided on the microfiche indexes.

In most cases this will be because the mother is unmarried and has no former name shown, but not always.

I was looking at some entries yesterday where a dash is shown on nearly all the entries in one district in the 1850s even though many of the mother's are clearly married, but it appears that the registrar used non-standard wording ( e.g. using Smith late Jones, instead of Smith formerly Jones) so the names have not been transcribed as maiden names in the new index.

As with all registration entries, using the index alone always involves some element of assumption to be made and you can only know exactly what is on the regsiter by ordering a copy of it.
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