Finding the spouse
If you are trying to find the other partner in a marriage from index entries, particularly before
1912, this page may be of help to you.
Information in the Indexes
From 1912 onwards the marriage entries in the index give the surname of the spouse. Prior to that the surname of the spouse is not in the indexes and FreeBMD has no access to the records that contain this information. So, if you have found the entry for one partner of a marriage prior to 1912 there are two ways in which you can find information about the spouse:
- Obtain a marriage certificate from the GRO - see here for how to do that
- Search FreeBMD for potential spouses by looking for people on the same page of the register (see below)
Searching FreeBMD for potential spouses
Prior to 1852, up to 4 marriages were entered on each page of the register. After that (with a few exceptions) there are two marriages per page. Each page of the register is identified by the District, Volume and Page.
FreeBMD provides a facility that makes use of this fact to help you narrow down the search for a spouse. You can use this facility in one of two ways:
- You can perform a search giving the surnames of both spouses (one in the
Surname field and one in the Spouse Surname field) and FreeBMD will show you entries
where these surnames appear on the same page of the register. This does
not mean that persons so identified are married - it merely cuts down
the possibilities for your further analysis.
- The FreeBMD search results give the District, the register
Volume (Vol column) and the Page (Page column)
within that volume. If you click on the Page a search will be performed to
show you all the entries on that page, resulting in results with up to 8 or 4 people
(depending on the year), and any 4 or 2 of these could be the spouse of
the person you are interested in. However, please note that if the page is not
in a recognised format this cannot be done and you will, with a warning, be taken
back to the search page with the parameters filled in so that you can perform the
search yourself (see below).
Using the above methods there is no way, from the index, to
tell which two people are married. If you have no other information to go on
(e.g. cross referencing a Census) the only option is to buy marriage certificates
from the GRO until you find the right one. However, if you have some other information
(which you probably do, otherwise you could not identify the "right" one) you may be
able to make use of the GRO "non-quoted service" -
see Getting a Certificate Conditionally
- and this will probably save you money.
Note that sometimes a page will be only partially completed, so there will be
less than 4 or 8 (depending on the year) entries. The number of entries,
should of course, always be even.
Wrong number of entries found
It may be that when you do a spouse search you do not get the 4 or 8 entries
normally expected. There can be a number of reasons for this:
- Fewer entries than expected
See below for information on how to try to find a missing entry.
- FreeBMD is still in the process of transcribing the quarter of the
index. The percentage of the quarter transcribed is shown next to the heading
for the quarter or you can look at the coverage of FreeBMD
- An entry may have been omitted from the index
- An entry in the index may have been omitted from the FreeBMD transcription
- There is an error in the district, volume or page number of the original entry
- There is an error in the district, volume or page number of the spouse entry
- More entries than expected
To resolve these issues you will need to examine each entry in turn - the information
here may help with this.
- Two of the entries are different transcriptions of the same entry
- Two of the entries are alternative spellings
- There is an error in the district, volume or page number of one (or more) of the
entries and it should be on another page - the district being in
italics may indicate
this is the case
Finding a missing spouse yourself
If the problem is due to a mistake in the index or a mistranscription or because the page number is not in a recognised format you may be able to find a spouse by performing a spouse search yourself using the information
here; if you have other information
about the entry, e.g. possible spouse names, you can use this to refine such a
search or to search for the spouse directly.
If this does not work it may be that the problem is that an entry has been omitted from
the GRO index or the FreeBMD transcription and the only way you can progress your research
will be to use other sources of information, for example census information.
If you find the missing entry you are encouraged to submit a correction,
if the entry has been mistranscribed, or add a Postem to the entry
otherwise. Both of these are done from the information page for the entry
which is accessed by clicking on the
button next to the entry.
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