When most ladies marry they change their last name to their husband’s last name, which makes tracing their family records fairly easy. But what happens when a daughter changes her first name (not officially) after birth and uses that name on documents?
Don’t get me wrong, I think naming a daughter or a son after their parent’s or grand parent’s first name is a great tradition, but on more than one occasion it has caused me problems.
I know, I know, it might have been easier to change their first name so you know when someone is talking about Sarah Thompson the mother not Sarah Thompson the daughter but it makes it hard when they use the changed name on official occasions and it bears only a little resemblance to the original name.
The last time it happened was just recently when I started searching for the children of my great great great great grand parents John Thompson (born Thomson but that’s another post) and Sarah Ramm.
I was lucky enough to find a collection of scanned images online and within an hour, I had the birth records of all 9 children including a daughter Sarah Ann Thompson.
OK, time to look for marriage and other records for these children. All went well at first, finding most of the records for the sons, but when it came to Sarah Thompson, I could not find a trace.
Looking back through the records, I came across a marriage for a Mary Ann Thompson to a Samuel Starling. I knew we had a Starling in our tree (sorry couldn’t resist it) but as I already had one son married to a Starling, I thought that might be the connection.
Unfortunately the marriage record did not give an age, so I could not work it out from that but the year of marriage and location seemed right. The death record had Mary Ann Thompson’s age at death, which matched Sarah’s birth year.
Was this Sarah Ann Thompson?
Apparently it was! A distant cousin who saw my family tree on Ancestry.com got in contact with me and during a wonderful three hour talk on the phone, I was told Mary Ann Thompson was the Sarah Thompson I was looking for.
Thanks Cousin Lyn
This Thompson family portrait was taken in Australia around 1913, not long after arriving from England. On the left is Amelia Jane Thompson, with daughter Adeline in her arms. Back right is Albert Thompson and the happy looking girl front right is Amelia (Millie) Thompson, my Grandmother, aged about 4. It is one of the earliest photos I have of my Grandmother.
In Australia, I think we are pretty lucky when it comes to trying to trace our family tree for free. For instance, both NSW and Queensland have a free historical birth, death and marriage (BDM) index online, where we can easily find information to help us in our family search.
But eventually there may come a time when you have to purchase a BDM certificate to allow you to trace your family tree further. NSW BDM certificate costs will vary from state to state, with NSW BDM certificates starting from about $28 (at the time of posting).
Another alternative is to get a transcribed copy of the certificate. There are a number of professional BDM transcription agents across Australia who will often be able to transcribe certificates cheaper than purchasing the original.
Being a bit of a scrooge, this was the position I found myself in when I needed to find information on my mum’s parents.
Somehow I had ended up with a copy of my grandfather’s death certificate, so I knew Pop’s details but all I knew about Nana was that her and Pop were married in Ryde, NSW and their 50th Wedding Anniversary was in 1982. Nana’s parents were named Albert and Amelia Thompson and that Nana was born in England somewhere.
Once I had Nana and Pop’s marriage reference number from the NSW BDM index, I then found a NSW BDM transcription agent through Google.
A NSW BDM transription agent can transcribe the following for you: NSW Birth Certificates 1788 – 1909. NSW Marriage Certificates 1788 – 1959 and NSW Death Certificates 1788 – 1979.
When hiring a NSW BDM transcription agent, one good thing is that besides purchasing a full transcription, you can pay for only the “fields” you require. A NSW Full Certificate Transcript cost is $18.00, NSW Partial Certificate Transcripts (5 Fields) is $15.00, and a NSW Partial Certificate Transcripts (3 Fields) costs $12.00.
For example, if you need a marriage certificate transcribed, you have the choice of 12 different fields.
1.Marriage Date & Place
2. Groom’s Birthplace
3. Groom’s Occupation
4. Groom’s Age
5. Groom’s Father
6. Groom’s Mother
7. Bride’s Birthplace
8. Bride’s Age
9. Bride’s Father
10. Bride’s Mother
12. Religion & Minister
I only needed to know 3 fields 7, 9 and 10 and the cost is only $12 instead of $28 for a certificate. Not a bad saving, especially if you need to purchase a few.
And when I received the order, the NSW BDM transcription agent actually sent me all of Nana’s details, fields 7 to 12, even though I didn’t really need them, which I thought was nice.