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Marriage not on civil registration index

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Marriage not on civil registration index

Postby ermin79 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:52 pm

Out of interest,as I am sure this has been discussed before, how common was it in the early days of civil registration (1838 in this case) for marriages to occur but not be registered?

I have all the details of the marriage I am seeking (see topic13140.html) as I have very kindly been pointed in the direction of the parish transcript on Find My Past, but out of idle curiosity I wanted to see if I could find it in the GRO marriage index, as I wondered why I did not spot it on previous searches. The wedding is between Edward Marsh & Mary Jow and took place on 17 April 1838. If anyone has better luck than me or knows more about the process followed for registration in the late 1830s I would be very grateful thank you.
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Re: Marriage not on civil registration index

Postby peter kent » Wed Feb 14, 2018 3:58 pm

Marriages Jun 1838

JOW Mary Sheffield 22 377
MARSH Edwin Sheffield 22 377

It appears that the groom's forename has either
(a) been wrongly indexed
or
(b) was wrongly reported by the church to GRO.

By the way, not being in the index does not necessarily mean that it was not registered, although it usually does.
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Re: Marriage not on civil registration index

Postby AdrianB38 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:26 pm

ermin79 wrote:Out of interest,as I am sure this has been discussed before, how common was it in the early days of civil registration (1838 in this case) for marriages to occur but not be registered? ...

Trying to answer the general question here, I would suggest that the answer is never. Well, as good as. At this time there were, I think, three ways for a marriage to be legally conducted.

1. In a Church of England church / chapel licensed for marriages. The registration is an integral part of the ceremony - the parties sign the parish register and also the identical looking book that will go to the Superintendent Registrar when full. That last signature is the registration.

2. Before a Superintendent Registrar of Marriages - so far as I know, he (she?) had one book - the signature is the registration.

3. In a non-conformist, Roman Catholic etc., church or chapel - to be legal, the marriage had to be in front of a Superintendent Registrar of Marriages, who would bring their book for signature. (NB - not sure how Quaker and Jewish marriages were conducted post-1837).

So how can this break down and a legal marriage be conducted but not registered? Difficult to see how. What can happen is:
1. Details in the register are incorrect (by our knowledge) so we can't find it and think the marriage isn't registered. (I guess it is not impossible that in the case of the CofE marriage, the entries in the two registers are different).

2. The copy sent off to the GRO has a copying error, so we can't find it and think the marriage isn't registered. Or it gets lost in the post.

3. Church goes up in flames before copies are sent to either the GRO or the Superintendent Registrar of Marriages - or the Bishop for his Transcripts. (Penwortham lost its registers in flames in the 1850s, where my Taylor line came from - I'm reliant on BTs and Civil Registrations there).

4. The most likely issue of all, I suggest, is that the couple never got married in the first place - that must dwarf the sorts of issues above.

5. Illegal marriages? Hm. From 1754 to 1837, any Roman Catholic or non-conformist marriage had to take place in a CofE church to be legal. It is known that couples would also go to an RC church, etc., to be married there. It is possible that such couples would think that the RC ceremony was enough but they've had getting on for 80 years to get used to the idea that those ceremonies were not the legal marriage, so I doubt it would happen from 1837 on.

6. Every so often one reads of a Registrar trying to get to a church with their book and being stranded - no doubt for every story of then riding on a tractor, there will be occasions when they never got there. Moot point whether you could claim that they were married - legally not, but...

Now, anything can happen given enough time, of course, but I suggest that the number of couples simply living together far, far outweigh the sorts of issues that I've described and the ones I can't think of.

Note that this refers to England & Wales - the situation is different in places like the USA and even Scotland, where the couple might be "properly" married but the registration takes place later, with the possibility that the registration gets forgotten or lost. In England & Wales (and?) the registration is an integral part of the process, unlike births and deaths, so it's more difficult for it to break down.

Shoot me down! ;)
Adrian
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Re: Marriage not on civil registration index

Postby Guy » Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:23 pm

I would suggest everyone who has any interest in family history should read the two well researched books by Michael Whitfield Foster “A Comedy of Errors, or The Marriage Records of England and Wales 1837-1899” and “A Comedy of Errors, Act 2”.

You will be amazed and possibly also disgusted the GRO got away with such an inaccurate system for as many years as they did (the new digital index for historic births & deaths now being used was long overdue).

One cause of “non-registration” of marriages was the inept index had quite a number of errors and omissions.
As Adrian mentioned most “lost” marriages were registered but the GRO index did not reference it.

Cheers
Guy
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Re: Marriage not on civil registration index

Postby ermin79 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:34 pm

Thank you for the thorough possibilities Adrian. I assumed that the registrar went to the church and copied the details in the parish register out every so often (depending on how often they themselves were required to report) . Which should theoretically mean that post 1837 a C oF E marriage should always be in the civil index. notwithstanding drastic circumstances you described - church burning down etc. or human error (thank you Peter for finding the reference for me, I tend to do wildcard searches on surnames but never thought of Edwin instead of Edward!)
I will certainly take a look at the books you mentioned Guy, they sound of great interest to me.
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Re: Marriage not on civil registration index

Postby AdrianB38 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:59 pm

I'm doing this by memory off my phone so no cross references but I think that, as I said, the 2nd Register went to the local Superintendent Registrar when full. This might take years! But every 3(?) months the parish clerk had to go through the Register to copy out the last 3m of marriages and these were the copies that got sent to the GRO. Whether they went via the local Superintendent Registrar, I don't know. So the copying and dispatching was down to the parish though the Superintendent Registrar might keep an eye on things.

Sent from my MotoG3 using WDYTYA Forum mobile app
Adrian
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Re: Marriage not on civil registration index

Postby ianbee » Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:20 pm

AdrianB38 wrote:Whether they went via the local Superintendent Registrar

Yes, and still do
See 6. Quarterly Certified Copies of marriage entries (page 27)
https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/d ... 5final.pdf
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Re: Marriage not on civil registration index

Postby Guy » Thu Feb 15, 2018 10:00 am

One thing that is often ignored or forgotten is the GRO indexes were not a static database which once created was there forever.
In the main the indexes were in constant use and as a result suffered damage through out their life.
This could be in the form of tears of the page, or even entries being torn out of the index. Smudges or fading of the entries. Some entries were over written when the became almost illegible (sometimes this was done accurately sometimes it was left until too late and inaccurate information was overwritten).
The early index up until the mid 1800s was hand written, this was replaced by a typed index (with a start point from 1866) leaving the earlier indexes in their handwritten form.
There was also a period in the 1960s when the handwritten index was gradually replaced by a typed copy, this typed copy was made during times when the typist pool at the GRO had spare capacity rather than during a set period.
This in itself lead to additional problems sometimes a typed section would be in the middle of a handwritten section however it also meant that errors could and did creep in at this stage. It also led to some “original” indexes being lost.
Foster notes that there is some confusion whether the original stored vellum indexes were used to create these typed indexes or whether the “white-on-black” copies were used.
If the “white-on-black” copies were used then all the additions or corrections made since the filming would have been lost on the “new” typed copy.

It is hoped the latest digital index that has been produced for the “historic” births and deaths has been complied from the entries in the registers (as claimed) rather than from the existing indexes, otherwise the new system will be as inaccurate as the old paper/microfilm/fiche versions that FreeBMD has had to rely on.

It is long past time that the GRO complied with their legal obligations and produced an accurate index.

Cheers
Guy
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Re: Marriage not on civil registration index

Postby Mick Loney » Thu Feb 15, 2018 6:35 pm

I must comment that the move to improve the readability,(by typewriting them) of these early handwritten GRO indexes was a serious mistake. In my mind, the handwriting used was quite legible, and the typewritten transcriptions left one thinking that perhaps it didn’t match the original!

Whenever possible, I use original images, and transcribe them myself, especially parish registers, as I find that with the best will in the world, transcriptions do creep in, even more if OCR is used!

Even with censuses, some of the transcriptions I’ve seen, stretches credibility to the nth degree!
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