Mum’s the Word

This article was written by Claire Miller from Langton Genealogy.

Good news for Mum’s in the week following Mothers Day

Finally, Mums will be able to have their names included on marriage certificates, in the first change to the law since civil registration began, during the reign of Queen Victoria, in 1837.

The change comes in to place on 4th May 2021.

To date, when you get married in England and Wales, only the Bride and Groom’s Fathers name and occupation is given on the marriage certificate, the reform which has taken seven years to legislated means that Mothers details will also now be included.

From a genealogical point of view, this is a fantastic resource! Not to mention the fact that Mums are just as important as Dads.

In previous years when there was a particular stigma attached to not having information about your Father, many people would put the details of other male family members, perhaps a Grandfather on their marriage certificate.

When researching family trees, we use birth, marriage and death certificates to trace the family tree.  A death certificate gives a wealth of information, usually including where and when you were born, a marital status and if female, any name changes.  The informants information can be a really helpful genealogical research, too, especially if they are a relative.

That information can be used to trace any marriage certificates, which provide a Fathers name.  This can then be checked against a birth certificate, using the Fathers name and date of birth to confirm the family tree and so on.

I recently researched the family tree of Ruth W. whose maiden name was Smith.  The initial information I had was that Ruth was a Widow without any children.  This was subsequently confirmed by my research and the family.

As you can imagine, researching such a popular surname can be a bit of a minefield.

The main issue in this case was that during Ruth’s lifetime she had a acquired a middle name which was not list on her birth certificate, which caused a few issues with locating her birth certificate.

However, from her marriage certificate I was able to obtain her Father’s name.  Using that information I carried out a search for a birth certificate, using her Fathers name and her date of birth, as checking points, to confirm I had the correct record.

I have come across instances of multiple people with very popular names having same date of birth and the same Fathers name, particularly with popular surnames such as Smith or Jones.

In these cases, locality and other familial information would have to be checked to confirm the correct person.  Having the Mothers details available on a marriage certificate will make all the difference and definitely improve the information available during genealogical research.

I located Ruth’s birth certificate, using the information provided on her marriage and death certificates and was able to confirm that she was one of a family of five children.

Her siblings will all inherit from her estate.

1 Comment

  • test

    A lovely article, Claire. I remember when I got married I was surprised that only my Fathers details were required – seemed so out dated. I’m pleased that this is changing, but it seems to have required more of a fight than I would’ve expected. My maiden name is Smith so I understand how difficult it must be researching our very popular name.

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