Filling in some gaps in the family history with the general record office

There’s an awful lot of information out there which should be online but isn’t yet so my family history research is often dictated by the timing of information appearing online.

For instance, whilst contemplating an extended trip to the General Records Office some years ago, I found out that there were plans afoot to make their information available over the internet. That time has now arrived and their online search has speeded up considerably what was proving to be a very time consuming and unfruitful search involving trips to various local registry offices.

Why it was unfruitful is because I’d taken the information written in an 1850s era family bible to be correct. Certainly one thing that I knew to be correct was the place of marriage of the guy whose family bible it was. After all, he’d written that and obviously he would have known where he was married. Turns out that he was wrong and whilst the family bible says (in his handwriting) that he was married in Ballymoney, he was actually married in the Ballymena registry office.

Getting back to him was a breeze with the new service. I had the rough date of marriage of my grandparents and a matter of minutes later I was looking at a copy of their marriage certificate. Going back to his parents’ marriage certificates was another few minutes as was the next generation (the guy who owned the family bible). I can’t go back any further as registration only stated in 1845 but I have a definite location to check with the church records now.

My grandmother’s side is a little more complicated as her dad came from Scotland. It’s still a bit confusing as the family is in Belfast on the 1911 census, but not on the 1901 census yet she was born in Belfast in 1897. Tracking down her parents marriage took 20 minutes or so as I only had the rough date of birth of her dad and you can only search the records in five year slots but I’ve got that now. That in itself changes things somewhat as he was in Belfast much earlier than I’d thought. It gets more difficult from this point as his birth was somewhere in Scotland and his name isn’t overly rare so I will need to think about how to identify him now without knowing the names of any of his family.


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