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Registration of birth

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Registration of birth

Postby pollymac » Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:04 pm

Martha Timms gave birth to a daughter called May in the month of May 1869 in Kensington. On the child's birth certificate it states her father, Charles Timms, is deceased.
Charles Timms's death certificate says he died the previous year in September 1868, approximately eight months before May's birth.

Martha then had another child, Frederick, in 1871 and claimed that her husband Charles was the father. He is not recorded as deceased on this child's birth record.
The child Frederick died in 1873. His death record states he was the son of Charles Timms.

Martha was the informant for the births of both of the children and the deaths of her husband and son.

I presume no proof of parentage was required when a person registered a birth and this allowed Martha to conceal the fact that her second child was illegitimate.
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Re: Registration of birth

Postby AntonyM » Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:28 pm

Registration is informant led, and largely done on trust, even today. No proof (not sure what she could show) is required.

For the first registration is is possible that Charles was the father, but the fact he is shown as deceased confirms that she told the registrar he had died before the birth.

For the other child - she obviously pretended to still be married, for whatever reason ...
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Re: Registration of birth

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon Oct 30, 2017 4:56 pm

AntonyM wrote:... not sure what she could show ...


I always think that's an important point of view. If you are tempted to ask, "Didn't they have to prove X?", ask yourself, "How could they prove X?" Especially when it's early in the 1800s and someone was born before civil registration and might not have been baptised. Also, not everyone had a full birth certificate post-1837 (1855 in Scotland, etc). My father's sort-of-BC is one of those documents that acknowledge that he was registered but are not the full BC.

There are instances where proof was required - FindMyPast has a collection called "British Civil Service Evidence Of Age", but even there, the evidence may be nothing more than sworn statements.

Basically, the UK tends to trust people until proven otherwise....
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Re: Registration of birth

Postby pollymac » Mon Oct 30, 2017 5:04 pm

Thanks for the replies.
It does make me wonder....we base our research on documents such as birth and death certificates but how truthful are they?
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Re: Registration of birth

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon Oct 30, 2017 5:23 pm

The $64,000 question!

It is actually a serious question but one that is capable of causing despair...

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Re: Registration of birth

Postby woodchal » Mon Oct 30, 2017 5:46 pm

Baptisms would be another avenue to explore. If births are local to a parish then the vicar is likely to know the situation with the father being dead or alive at the time of conception.

Having said that I have a set of relations that were baptised as a "job lot" with a whole range of ages. The younger ones were definitely conceived after the death of the father, who is quoted as being the father on the baptism. In this case I think the passing of time (and maybe new vicar) allowed for the wool to be pulled over the churches eyes.
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Re: Registration of birth

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon Oct 30, 2017 6:12 pm

And indeed the parish priest may have deliberately chose to ignore any issues.... I am reminded, for instance, of a man marrying his deceased brother's widow in the local church at a time when this was not permitted by Church rules.

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Re: Registration of birth

Postby pollymac » Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:09 am

There is a baptism record for one of the children mentioned in my original post. The daughter, May, was baptised in 1871 with what appears to be her brother.

1871 May Marian & Charles James Timms.png
1871 May Marian & Charles James Timms.png (168.12 KiB) Viewed 1085 times


However, according to his birth certificate, this Charles James was born 8th June 1865 in Paddington workhouse. His mother was Alice Timms, no father's name recorded.
Alice was May's aunt, sister to Charles James senior.

I have assumed that the birth certificate in this case is correct and the baptism was a means of disguising another illegitimate child in the family.
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Re: Registration of birth

Postby brunes08 » Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:25 am

Details on certificates are often inaccurate for a variety of reasons. I have several BMD certificates that have either deliberate or unintentional inaccuracies provided by the informant. In two cases the father is stated to be deceased - from a broken marriage and no longer in contact - so presumed deceased. My own grandfather was deemed deceased at my parents' marriage but in fact died 13 years later - he hadn't been seen for over 20 years. On another certificate the father of the bride was incorrectly stated at her mother's legal husband but was in fact her mother's common-law-husband so the bride was illegitimate. Less embarrassing I presume. Another stated the deceased was a widow - she wasn't. Her husband was still alive! I could go on and on and on. The point being is that you cannot take any document for granted without supporting evidence.
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Re: Registration of birth

Postby AdrianB38 » Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:19 am

I do find it useful to work on the basis that a civil registration certificate is more likely to be correct than a baptism, say, in the event of a difference between 2 sources. I've only found a couple of birth certificates with lies, to be blunt, on them, but rather more baptisms. Usually the latter intended to disguise illegitimacy that was admitted to the Registrar.

While we need to question any and every source, it's also important not to get hung up on this to the extent that we disappear up our own fundaments in a paralysis of analysis. People often quote getting 3 (or whatever) independent sources for each fact. The problem is that this is virtually impossible - 3 different sources, yes. Three different independent sources? Much less likely. Think of someone trying to get 3 independent sources of your name. Most of those sources are not independent because you are the person who wrote your name in those 3 sources. Just one source at root.

I believe that you need to collect all the sources that you can reasonably get hold of. So that's all the censuses, for instance. Then you look for any differences and see if there is a sensible explanation. But realise please, that you may only find one source for some facts so don't worry, you are allowed to accept that - until some new data appears.

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