News and Blog

The latest news and information from the Achievements team.

  1. Clues to fathers’ names . . .

    Finding unmarried ancestors is by no means unusual in genealogy, but finding the name of the father in such cases is not so easy.  A birth certificate or baptismal entry will usually only record the mother’s name, with no reference to the father.  After 1875 a father could be included on the birth certificate of a child of unmarried parents, but only if he attended the registration as well as the mother.

    But there can be clues to parentage.  Whilst birth certificates usually don’t record fathers where the mothers were unmarried, this was not always the case at baptism.  For example, where a child was baptised in a small, rural parish, it is possible that the father was widely known.  In which case, the clergyman recording the baptism might insert their name, with the term “reported father” or similar.

    But even then birth certificates can sometimes help.  Particularly for male children, the mother may give the father’s full name as middle names for the child.  For example, one Charles Llewellyn Evans Morris was born in Penrith in 1844, the son of Sarah Morris, who was unmarried.  It would seem more than likely that Llewellyn Evans represented Charles’ father and in this case it would be certainly worth seeing whether there was anyone living locally of that name.

    Equally, people sometimes told the truth at marriage: a father with a surname different to the party marrying gives a clue that such a scenario happened.  It might even be that the father had a role in the child’s life, but for whatever reason the parents simply did not, or could not, marry. Thus it might be that the clues to parentage are there in the records all along!

  2. A son named Faster?!

    Genealogists will always find odd names and variant spellings when examining parish registers and other records.  A slightly more unusual forename was found last week when one of our searches was examining the baptism records of Eggesford in Devon: Faster Mander was baptised there in 1708.

    Further investigation reveals that Faster is perhaps not as unique a forename as first appears.  Indeed, the 1911 census suggests that 54 people have this as a forename or middle name.  In fact, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries it was usually given as a middle name, and presumably was used in commemoration of a maternal surname from the family tree.  Faster is by no means a rare surname.

    But some children were saddled with Faster as their only forename, and it begs the question whether they were known by this name, or a knickname?  Fast, perhaps.

  3. Really unhelpful baptismal entry from 1839

    Genealogical research will often ask more questions that it answers, and parish registers in particular can often omit essential information.  Sixteenth and seventeenth baptismal registers in particular often do not name the mother, and sometimes even the father.

    An early baptismal entry may simply give the date and “John Smith baptised”.  But a find by one of our researchers today asks even more!  The entry gives the date of baptism, 21st November 1839, no date of birth (they are given for other entries) and simply the surname: the name of the child and parents are simply not included.

    It just goes to show, that even into the nineteenth century frustrating parish register entries can still be found.  In this case, it should be the case that General Registration, which began in 1837, can help fill in the gaps, where the baptismal entry is lacking.

    Shaw bapt no names!

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