Posted by on 17 May 2011 in Company News, General, Record Collections, Site Features

A brief post to let you know that we recently updated the following collections:

Like with our Marriage collections earlier this month, the majority of updates focused on updating the County Field to be a more accurate inference of the registration county place.

We have also fixed other problems that were reported through our Member Support team, including improving the linking for our 1837-1915 BMD indexes, so a big thank you to our members who shared their feedback with us.



I don’t know who is on this “Member Support team” but I suspect none of them know anything about Wales! If you think this “update” has made the “County Field to be a more accurate inference of the registration county place” you are very much mistaken. The update appears to have introduced new errors???

Just a few examples:

There is no such county as “Glamorganshire”! It was “Glamorgan”.

“Aberayon”, Cardiganshire should read “Aberayron” (today known as “Aberaeron”)

“Narbech”, Pembrokeshire should read “Narbeth”

All references to the counties of “Mid Glamorgan”; “South Glamorgan”; “West Glamorgan”; “Powys” or “Gwynedd” for events before 1974 (when those counties were created!) are incorrect.

What does this mean? Died “QMar-Jul-Aug-Sep 1980”. How can March quarter include July; August or September?

There are many similar errors for England.

17 May 2011 at 10:27 pm
Ron Lankshear 

On the Birth Index 1837-1915 you have a box for mother’s maiden name. This only is possible from mid 1911. The GRO index only shows mother from mid 1911.
Why not put a comment against the search box only from 1911.
Or change the database to 1837- mid1911 and add 1911end to 1916.
Many people must search using mother’s maiden name and find no records as before 1911

18 May 2011 at 1:17 am

A very simple announcement, but what does it mean?

Ideally you have standardised place names in your indexes so that the name of a parish stays the same over time, rather than having different versions in different census years.

I have reported numerous cases of this to your team, so will be rechecking places like Kings Stanley, which hovered between that and Kingstanley, changing often.

Ancestry has a bias towards modern place names, odd since we spend most of our time researching Victorians. I have long advocated changing the bias to say fixing all place names at pre 1891 status.

This would eliminate all problems of subsequent boundary changes. Everybody would know Ancestry as “crinklyworld” where the returned information provided on the census matches the residency place names. After all no Victorian will tell us they lived in Gwent, Avon, West Midlands or even Greater London. Plus my ggg grandfather would not have two birth counties.

However these are probably concepts far too advanced for Ancestry, lets start off getting the place names right!

Robert Fowler

18 May 2011 at 8:54 am

I’ve always maintained that there is no need to infer a county at all. The BMD records just list the registration district and that is all they really need to return. Let the user decide if they want a county and if so which one. When you infer stuff you have to get it right and there has to be a good reason for it. Turning ages into a year of birth is an example of good use of inference (though having a two year span would be better).

Searching is another story. Some registration districts cover parts of more than one county and so should be considered a part of all those counties for the purposes of searching. It would also be reasonable to include modern county names in this context.

18 May 2011 at 11:06 am
Pete Smee 

There is no such thing as a “Registration County” you are trying to intermix 2 totally seperate hierarchical systems.

Any chance you could sort out the mess that is the place names used for the LMA entries?

let me give you some tips
St John the Baptist,Finsbury is not very close to Hounslow
St Paul Greenwich is even further from Middlesex
St Mark “Nottinghill” is actually St Mark, Kennington.

Newington and Stoke Newington are 2 differeent places with half of London and a darn great river in between them

18 May 2011 at 11:59 am

Graham #4.

It’s not just the county that can vary. The country can also!
At various times an event registered in the Wrexham Registration District (in Wales) could actually have taken place in Malpas, Cheshire, England! Similarly the Chester, Ellesmere and Oswestry Registration Districts crossed over into Wales.

In attempting to make the “County Field to be a more accurate inference of the registration county place”, I believe that Ancestry have taken on an impossible task. Historically, changes to Registration District boundaries were made randomly and on arbitrary dates.

18 May 2011 at 1:30 pm

I regard it as an unnecessary task, and in some ways an undesirable one. A lack of a county and country would be a good way of differentiating between a registration district and a particular place.

On the other hand it should be possible for Ancestry to look up the info for each registration district and make sure that, for example, Wrexham is treated as being in both Denbighshire and Cheshire, and both England and Wales for the purposes of searches. With a little more work it could also be treated as being in whatever modern counties it may have been in over the years too.

18 May 2011 at 5:30 pm
Pete Smee 

I hope that the new improved system is not responsible for the Registration District of Bridge appearing as being in “Devonshire”

Apart from the geographical inaccuracy, the county of Devon is no more a Shire than is Kent which is where Bridge was, until 1974 when it was merged with Canterbury.

20 May 2011 at 6:06 pm

Graham is correct, there are two key considerations about place names and district names.

– what they are called
– where they are searchable

If the place name indexes were redesigned they should be searchable in counties within say a 10 mile radius.

Ancestry searches by birth county only not locality.

District names are listed with up to 5 county names. Oddly some of these can be searchable some not – all vagaries of the system.

Numerous examples exist – Kings Norton,Worcs for example which is now part of Birmingham has;

Birth records searchable – Warks,Worcs

But Marriage records on searchable Worcs.

Tough for those b Birmingham,Warks m Kings Norton.

The whole system needs redesigning by people that understand English place names, the Ancestry team demonstrate when you deal with them, that they DO NOT.

27 May 2011 at 6:13 pm
Jeanne Bunting 

It isn’t the counties that need sorting out, it is the Registration Districts! Just to give an example, Harlow (Essex) wasn’t a registration district until 1974 yet there are large numbers of all three events with Harlow as the Registration District before that date. In fact, most of them are Volume Number 5f which should be Harrow. I can’t for the life of me see why this wasn’t picked up before the these records went live. Surely they must do a cross-check of Volume Number against Registration District! But no, this is Ancestry – “Never mind the quality, feel the width”!

OTOH, maybe they should look at the counties, as this Harlow RD meanders around Essex, Greater London, Kent, Middlesex and Warwickshire, and mostly all the same Volume Number – 5f

27 May 2011 at 7:28 pm
Carol Gilbert 

OH dear!
You appear to have arbitorily moved Sculcoates, a fairly large registration district, from the East Riding of Yorkshire to the North Riding. Scarborough is North Riding Sculcoates is definitely NOT.

My Mother and her parents would be horrified to discover you have moved their birth place to ‘Foreign Parts’ !!!

Who is doing your quality checking? Not someone with any knowledge of the subject clearly. If in doubt about the Riding it would be much more sensible to merely say Yorkshire and leave it at that.

27 May 2011 at 11:21 pm
Nick Davey 

In London which is where my ancestors come from at least from 1750’s, I find it annoying that simple things like Marriage Banns in composite registers are indexed as baptisms. one parish is given the wrong dedication and location within
London when it is clearly given at the beginning of the film/or top of the page.
The county of London did not exist prior to 1890 so why are the modern borough names given not the relevant county.Is this because the LMA catalogue has the records in that order? and it is kept for consistancy?

27 May 2011 at 11:22 pm
Ann Spiro 

I agree with Ron re the need for a box for mother’s maiden name and/or spouse name on the GRO Index for EVERY year indexed.. I have placed a countless number of comments and spouse names in the ‘add a postem’ area which I feel is more or less hidden from view. Many people would not know (or think) to click on the ‘info’ box and view the comments. Although Ancestry does send me thank you emails for corrections I make to the spelling of names in the various census; I feel they should pay me in credits for the work I do for them.

28 May 2011 at 6:18 am

The Scilly Isles are not spelt Seilly.
Truro is NOT in Devon.

Really, you don’t need the counties with the registration district names. They are not needed for ordering certificates and anyone who really needs to know can look them up online. Far more accurate.

28 May 2011 at 8:37 am
Howard Laver 

West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Yorkshire as counties? If Ancestry is meant to be a historical web site what happened to the Ridings?

29 May 2011 at 9:19 am
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