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Birth, Marriage & Deaths

The Kilted Ancestors prompt for January 2023 in line with the Annual Genealogy Challenges & Triumphs topic was in relation to Birth, Marriages & Deaths.

I think we have all struggled at some point to locate one of these entries in relation to an Ancestor.

Finding them can often be difficult for a number of reasons:-

The surname provided is different from the one you know, this could be due to the fact that the person giving the details could not read or write & therefore the official wrote it as it sounded or that the person who later indexed the entry misread the handwriting.

That perhaps a record does not exist. Pre 1855 Scottish Baptisms, Banns, Burials are a great example as they are by no means complete. I have seen many make the mistake of looking for the closest match by name & date without the researcher totally understanding the record set.

Image from own collection

It may be that the person was not in the area you expected them to be. They may have been visiting family at the other side of the country when they died or chose to marry in another county or even country.

During my research as a Professional Genealogist, I have even encountered individuals who gave a different Christian name or surname to hide their marriage, probably as family would not have approved of the marriage.

Information can also be given wrongly by the person registering an event. That may be that they get mixed up with the deceased persons mothers maiden name, that they did not know the persons parents or that they are in fact not a family member so have very little information. This can make searching or identifying the correct entry extremely difficult.

Age is another concern, in years gone by people did not celebrate birthdays in the way that we do today, therefore, it is understandable that they, their spouses or parents may forget their age. Another example is if a person was born in April 1880 in January of the following year (1881) they would be said to be in their 1st year when in fact they have not yet reached their 1st birthday.

Image from own collection

There are many things that can throw out finding an entry, taking into consideration all these points if you don’t find the entry with ease then try thinking outside the box by using Soundex searches for names, ranges for ages, looking at a wider area or the whole country to see what that might reveal.

One that that I struggled with was locating the death entry for my 3 x Great Grandmother Catherine GIBSON. Catherine married James BLACK in Shotts, Lanarkshire in 1837. The couple would go on to have 6 children but sadly James would pass away almost 2 years after the birth of their last child.

Catherine never remarried choosing to bring up her children on her own. My struggle was locating her death entry, I could track her up until the 1881 Census when she was living with her son in Glasgow & listed as being 65 my thought initially was that she perhaps died between the time that Census was taken & the 1891 Census 10 years later. Information given in past records gave her year of birth as being between 1815 & 1818 but having looked at multiple records via the Scotland’s People website I struggled to locate her death entry.

Image © Treehouse Genealogy

I was unable to cross reference an entry with both surnames of BLACK & GIBSON & by using the Christian name of Catherine or Kate using a wide range in age.

This challenge needed a wider scope of research! Via the Scotland’s People Website, I carried out a search for Catherine BLACK who died between 1881 & 1918 (100 years after her birth, you never know!) My feeling was that her age in the 1881 Census was out so I entered a search age of 62+ this threw up 134 potential entries! Thankfully using the same criteria but using Kate rather than Catherine gave no results. To go through all these results online would have cost a whopping £201.00 & even then I was not guaranteed to find the correct entry!

It was going to take a visit to the Scotland’s People Centre in Edinburgh & so I set off with my printed list of entries to see if Catherine’s Death entry could be found.

Working tactically, I had previously sorted this list by the registration places so worked at looking at each of the areas she had lived at in turn. Finally after checking quite a number of entries I came across an entry in New Monkland, Lanark in 1893, this listed Catherine BLACK as being 72 the widow of John BLACK, no parents details are provided but the person who registered her death was James Brown her Grandson, Bingo!

James BROWN was the son of Ann BLACK, Catherine’s Daughter who lived in Glenboig, New Monkland & as Catherine’s Grandson did not know his Grandfather James BLACK hence the reason he may have given his name as John, it is therefore understandable that he may not even have known who Catherine’s parents were either.

Yes, the Genealogy Challenge has become a triumph but onto the next challenge of working out who Catherine’s parents were!


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