The Failings of the Statutory Records

Old Aberdeen

Why death records are not entirely accurate all of the time.

I have lost count of the times that customers have hit a brick wall as they took quite literally the death certificate names of their ancestors!

Many times, especially if someone dies in old age or in another part of the world the person responsible for registering the death does not know the names of the parents of the deceased and either guesses them or makes them up! This can wreak havoc for a genealogist.

Spelling is another problem. In my case my husband's grandfather was born William White but died William Whyte and we have been 'Whytes' ever since! Often this error was down to the registrar recording what they thought was the spelling as illiteracy was rife.

We assume everything that is recorded must be correct.

Why marriage records are not entirely accurate all of the time.

The parents listed on the marriage certificates are not necessarily correct. Often, due to death, divorce etc the father or maother may have remarried and the new spouse is recorded as a parent.

Why birth records are not entirely accurate all of the time.

Birth entry details are what was told to the Registrar at the time and no proof had to be given. It is possible couples were married outside Scotland or even not legally married at all. All religious marriages would be recognised but on an odd occasion a couple might obtain a warrant from the Sheriff after declaration (early form of civil marriage) but omit the necessary procedure of them taking the warrant to the Registrar so it would not be recorded as a marriage. Or perhaps they simply had not gone through any formalities at all. Or the father was not the actual father but shame made him a caretaker!

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