Having ordered a marriage certificate for my great great grandparents, I was looking for confirmation of which of my two 'possibles' was really my great great grandmother Harriet's father. But guess what? It wasn't either of them!

Harriet herself was recorded as a minor and a spinster. Nothing unusual in that. However, the man named on the certificate as Harriet's father had a completely different surname. I assumed it was her stepfather and that perhaps her real father was dead. Her real father should still have been named on the marriage certificate, of course, but this was in 1837 in the first year of civil registration, so perhaps no one was quite sure what the rules were about what should be recorded. 

Harriet was married in the same parish where she was born (or so I believe from later census entries). So I looked for a marriage between the man named on the marriage certificate as her father and an (unknown) woman with Harriet's surname. Not only did I find nothing, but I found no marriage in that locality for Harriet's supposed father at all.

I looked in the banns book for the parish to see if there was any reference to either parent (since Harriet was a minor, she should only have been marrying with the permission of a parent or guardian) but there was nothing helpful written down there. In fact it was worse, as the groom's surname was spelt wrong!

In case you're wondering, I can't find Harriet's baptism record at the moment - it is pending a visit to the county record office to look at the original parish records which are not available anywhere else. I'm expecting to find that there was no father named at her birth, but you never know.

Meanwhile, I did have some success with another great great grandmother from another branch of the family - I found her baptism record which finally proved that not only was she illegitimate with no known father, she had a twin brother. Unusually for twin births in those days (1815) both survived and lived to a ripe old age, as did their mother.

Back to client research next week....

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