4. Certificates

Certificates hold a wealth of information about your ancestors.

Birth certificates can tell you:


  • When and where a person was born
  • Their father’s name -where acknowledged. Illegitimate births may not state the father’s name
  • Mother's name
  • Father's occupation

Marriage certificates can tell you:


  • The date that the marriage took place
  • The bride and groom's full names
  • Their ages (note: age given is as stated by bride/groom, and may not be accurate)
  • Condition at marriage, i.e. widowed, divorced, or single
  • Their profession
  • Their residence
  • The bride and groom's fathers' names. If a father's name is followed by 'deceased', then search
  • backwards from the date of marriage to find a death certificate for him.
  • The bride and groom's fathers' occupations
  • Names of witnesses - often family members.

Death certificates can tell you:


  • When and where a person died
  • Their age
  • Their occupation
  • The cause of death
  • Details of the informant (often a family member).