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If the facility was not available this is because either or both of the Volume and Page were not readable when the index was transcribed. This is indicated by the presence of special characters in these fields as explained here.

Structure of the index

If you are not familiar with how the GRO index is structured, particularly with respect to the page number and the entries on a page, you should first of all read this explanation. This will give you valuable information that will be useful as you try to track down the missing spouse.

Checking the transcription

See here for information about the search results. Take note of any anomolies, for example indicated by the district being in italics.

You should check the transcription of the original entry for which you are trying to find the spouse. This can be done by clicking on the Scan available icon next to the entry and viewing the original scan. If there is more than one scan available check each in case the entry is clearer in one than another. If you find a mistake, or a possible mistake, in the transcription you can perform the spouse search as described below. If you find a mistake in the transcription of an entry you are encouraged to submit a correction - click on the Information icon next to the entry and following the instructions for submitting a correction.

Doing a spouse search yourself

The normal spouse search facility works by searching for entries for marriages with the same quarter, volume and page number as the original entry. You can do the same search manually by entering these values in the fields of a search, thus:

Date rangeSet both start and end to the same as the original
VolumeSet to the same as the original
PageSet to the same as the original
See below for choosing alternative values for the Volume and Page.

Choosing search values for your spouse search

There are a number of different ways of examining the index information to try to compensate for errors in the index. Although none of these is likely to give you a definitive answer to who the spouse is it may limit it to a small number of likely candidates.

The Type (i.e. Marriage) and start/end date should be set to the value of the original entry (i.e. the entry for the spouse you know). Select values for the District, Volume and Page as follows:

Finding Page Entries

FreeBMD provides a means to find all the page numbers for a particular quarter and district and/or volume; the page numbers are shown together with the number of entries for each. Using this facility with the details (e.g. year, district, etc.) for the spouse you know about you can find all the possible pages that correspond. By examining this information you can determine the most likely alternative entries. For example, if the spouse you know about is on page 21 and you find that there is an entry for page 2_ there is a possibility that your missing spouse will be the entry with that page. Another clue would be pages with, for example, 9 entries; at least one of these must be on the wrong page, so could one of these entries be your missing spouse? To use the Find Page Entries facility click here.

Meaning of special characters

The following characters are used where the index is difficult to read:

_ (Underscore) A single uncertain character. It could be anything but is definitely one character. It can be repeated for each uncertain character.
* (Asterisk) Several adjacent uncertain characters. A single * is used when there are 1 or more adjacent uncertain characters. It is not used immediately before or after a _ or another *.
Note: If it is clear there is a space, then * * is used to represent 2 words, neither of which can be read.
[abc] A single character that could be any one of the contained characters and only those characters. There must be at least two characters between the brackets.
For example, [79] would mean either a 7 or a 9, whereas [C_] would mean a C or some other character.
{min,max} Repeat count - the preceding character occurs somewhere between min and max times. max may be omitted, meaning there is no upper limit. So _{1,} would be equivalent to *, and _{0,1} means that it is unclear if there is any character. Ensure the complete field is enclosed in quotes to avoid the comma being taken as a field separator, e.g. "williams{0,1}".
? (Question mark) Only used where it is unambiguous that there are no characters in the field, e.g a missing Volume. The question mark must be the only character in the field.
Note: If it is unclear whether the field is empty or not _{0,1} is used.

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