New leads from marriage certificates


04 January 2014
Marriage-lines-DPS-Jan-FT-300x212-93713.jpg Read Ruth's feature in our January 2014 issue.
So you’ve got your ancestors’ marriage certificate and gleaned the essentials for your genealogy records, what next?

So you’ve got your ancestors’ marriage certificate and gleaned the essentials for your genealogy records, what next? Well don’t just file it away for future reference (or worse, never to see the light of day again), try out some of Ruth A Symes’s superb tips for further research and insight into your ancestors’ lives.

Monday’s for health...

Ruth, whose latest book It Runs in the Family: Understanding More About Your Ancestors was published by The History Press in December, suggests 10 great things to do online once you have that precious certificate in your hands. You can find out on which day of the week your ancestors married using a website such as and discover whether they chose a traditionally ‘lucky’ day to wed: 'Monday's for health and Tuesday's for wealth’ according to our superstitious Victorian forebears.

Key events & places

Learning about the key national and world events on the day, month and year they married will add lots of lovely colour to your family history research. Was their decision to wed influenced by local, national or world events, such as war? And what about where they got hitched – was it in a parish church, register office or cathedral? Most 19th and 20th century weddings took place in the bride's parish, so it's a great indicator of where her family lived. Look up the church online – there may be photos of it today, or perhaps illustrations of how it looked when your ancestors tied the knot. Try a website such as Historypin for a photograph of your ancestor's street or – if you're really lucky – their house! And A Vision of Britain Through Time is a great site to learn about the place your ancestors came from.

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Names, occupations & newspapers

The witnesses’ names can be revealing too, along with your ancestors’ ages (perhaps they bent the truth?), occupations and more. And what did marriage mean to your forebears – was it for love or to connect families, perhaps? Find out where you can find marriages recorded elsewhere too, such as in old newspapers digitised online at the British Newspaper Archive and

Make the most of those chilly January evenings to take a second look at your marriage certificates and flesh out your family history. Ruth’s fabulous ideas will help you learn a whole lot more than you could ever have imagined from that one piece of paper.

Don't miss Ruth's feature in the January issue of Family TreeFind Family Tree in WH Smiths, leading supermarkets and all good newsagents, or you can download the latest issue as a digital edition right now – visit, the App StoreGoogle Play or Amazon Appstore. Single issues, back issues and subscriptions are available for PC, Mac, eReaders, smartphones and tablets. A free sample is also available for all devices.