Monday, 17 August 2009

Marriage Entries VS Marriage Certificates

I have been writing a lot about my WREFORDs lately, particularly with regard to George WREFORD and his bankruptcy woes. However, his wife would have also been sharing these worries with him. Also missing from the 1861 census, perhaps she had travelled to Exeter for his court hearing.

In 1845, Harriotte STILING married George WREFORD in Cove Chapel (in the Pitt quarter of the parish of Tiverton). Both lived in Tiverton at the time and both of their fathers were farmers. I know this (and their father's names) because of the information recorded on their marriage certifcate.

This is a copy of their marriage ordered from the General Register Office (my first ever certificate ordered):

George WREFORD and Harriet STILING marriage certificate - 1845

A lot of people assume that the signatures on these certificates are those of their ancestors when first starting in genealogy. However, this is only a 'Certified Copy of an Entry of Marriage' (as stated on top of the document). Someone (with authority) has basically just copied the information into another book.

This is the actual entry for their marriage in the Cove Chapel parish registers:

George WREFORD and Harriet STILING Marriage Entry - 1845

There is no difference in the information given except I now have the actual signatures of George WREFORD, Harriotte STILING and her father John STILING!

A Philip CHAVE was also witness to the marriage - he may be a relative, close friend or just someone there on the day.

You may think, why bother?
Well, sometimes the information can differ from the copy but I have to admit, it gives me a little thrill to see the actual signatures. In the absence of photographs or other memorabilia, it can be as close as you may get to 'touching' your ancestor. I can imagine having access to the actual parish register book they would have written in would be even more thrilling. It may be sad but I'm sure other family historians out there know what I'm talking about.

NOTE: I remember reading somewhere that an X (or mark) as a signature didn't always mean the person was illiterate. Sometimes women especially would use an X so as not to show up their new husband.

I like to visit places which played parts in my ancestors' lives so we drove up to Cove through very narrow, winding hillside roads. I believe this photo is of Cove Chapel. It is fenced off with a PRIVATE sign right next to someone's home so we stuck around long enough just to get this photo. I have been unable to find much information on Cove Chapel so if I'm incorrect, please let me know.

Cove Chapel, Tiverton parish as it was August 2009

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