Sunday, 6 November 2016

Update on the new GRO indexes

I wrote about a month ago on the new indexes released by the General Register Office. you can find the posting here.

This update will detail my findings and also hopefully give you some pointers

The indexes cover births from 1837 to 1915 and deaths 1837 to 1957 and were created over 10 years ago as part of the ill fated DoVE project. No other new indexes were created.

However these are a gold mine as I found at least 5 entries that were not in the indexes available on FreeBMD, ancestry, findmypast or elsewhere

I have completed the extraction of the material relating to the Halstead name and its variants resulting in 7360 birth entries to 1912 and 2,400 changes to death records. This has been a combination of age at death to 1865 and the remainder are where the second Christian name is included.

This involved the checking of over 7,300 birth entries from 1837 to 1915 and add the extra information. the extra information was twofold with the mothers maiden name (MMN) being added for all entries and also for those years when the original indexes only added an initial for the second first name the full name. There is one annoying trait in the new indexes do with mothers' maiden name and an inconsistency in the way that it was reported. This appears to relate to those people who were illegitimate and therefore have a MMN the same as the name being searched. so will have the surname and others not - it seems almost as though it was down to the transcriber.

I have checked through the birth indexes from 1901 to 1911 and of the 1059 all but 31 have been allocated to a family. Those that have yet to be resolved are because they are either illegitimate and need the certificate to get the mothers name or they have a mothers’ maiden name where two people have married with that name in the period in question thus making it impossible to be certain who the person belongs to. whilst many of these are children that died early it does mean that families are becoming more complete.

Again there were two changes with this new index. Firstly had full first names (no matter how many) which of course makes it easier to decide which George A is which and it also included age at death for those prior to 1866. it is this latter update which causes the greatest problem. 

For the Halstead archive all of the information was extracted from the original indexes about 15 years ago into Excel and has been updates as new information becomes available as well as recording which persons in the database the entry relates to which means that in theory you can't use the same entry for two people!. now for many years many of the indexes on the local BMD projects on UKBMD have included the age at death back to 1837 and these were included in the Excel files. So it was easy to see any errors that might have crept in. It appears that many of the ages in the indexes up to the age to 2 years were incorrectly recorded. So any entry of 15 months may have been recorded as 2 or 15 - there appears to be no way of checking.

John Hanson
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