GRO Indexes - Solving mysteries

The mother's maiden name appearing on the GRO England birth indexes prior to 1911 is helping to locate children and solve mysteries.

I knew from the 1901 census that Edward Hannam was married to Martha and that they appeared to have five children

1901 Census - Edward Hannam

Source: - Archive reference RG13 / Piece number 188 / Folio 5 / Page 2

Hannam is one of those surnames that has lots of variants, both from how it is pronounced and written down and how all the "ups and downs" in the middle of the name are transcribed.

It was relatively easy to find Edward William Hannam marrying Martha Maud North in the September Quarter 1891 in the Holborn Registration district. That did however mean that the daughter, Elizabeth Hannam aged 14 in the 1901 census was born around 1887 i.e. before their marriage.

So I looked for Martha North in the 1891 census and found her as a widow with three children including Elizabeth. 

1891 Census - Martha North

Source: - Archive reference RG12 / Piece number 178 / Folio 44 / Page 12

So we now know that Martha marries a Mr North, and has children from around 1882.

Searching the England & Wales marriage indexes with the following criteria gave me 30 possible marriages. A few to many to work through and as a sideline to my research I was unlikely to buy any certificates to sort this out.

North Marriages c1880

I had worked out that Elizabeth was probably Elizabeth Martha M North with a birth registered in the Dec Qtr 1886 in the Islington Registration District, but there were far too many Ellen Norths and Harry Norths (not to mention the option of Henry North) to work through.

So that's how it has sat in my genealogical program, with an unknown maiden name for Martha and an unknown first name for Mr North, for the last few years. 

GRO Online Birth Index

With the advent of the GRO Online index giving a mother's maiden name for births prior to 1911 it was time to solve some mysteries.

First up a search for Elizabeth North born in 1886.

Elizabeth Martha Maud North - 1886 Birth

First thing I noticed was the full name including Maud as a middle name. The new indexes have been re-indexed from the birth registrations not the indexes to the registrations that have been available for researchers i.e. there may be more information and you may get full middle names instead of initials. 

But most importantly the missing maiden name for Martha Maud... Reid.

A search of the England & Wales marriage indexes shows that a marriage of Martha Maud Reid to James North was registered in the Dec Qtr 1884 in Pancras registration district. But note the year... does that mean Ellen North born 1882 is from another relationship (a mystery to solve at another time)?

There's a good chance that Harry North is actually Henry George Washington North (what a great name).

Henry North - 1887 Birth

But it's the Hannam children that I'm more interested in; Minnie, Ada, Lily & Rose

Minnie Hannam Birth Index
Ada Hannam Birth Index
Rose & Lily Hannam Birth Index
I wonder if Edward registered the first two children. Minnie & Ada, and when asked his wife's maiden name answered with the surname of his wife when he married her - North? Then Martha registers the births of Rose & Lily and answers with her maiden name of Reid?
Then there is the 1911 census entry for the family.
1911 Census - Edward and Martha Hannam
Source: - Census reference RG14PN971 RG78PN33 RD10 SD7 ED3 SN17
I know that Edward filled in the form, so this would suggest that he is listing the children that he and Martha had; six in total, two deceased (if Martha had listed the children she had the answer would have been different). So the next mystery to solve... who are the two deceased children?
I hope you are having fun solving mysteries. 


Have a look at our other blog posts on the GRO Indexes:

GRO Update - Searching the England & Wales Birth and Death Indexes

GRO - Have you tried the new ordering system?


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