North Warwickshire Marriages Index (NoWMI)
One stumbling block in family history is following families prior to the introduction of civil registration (1837 in England & Wales). Whilst much of north Warwickshire is included on the IGI, the burials are not so NNWFHS has worked hard to produce a range of affordable booklets indexing burials for key periods.
A vital component in taking our research into the early 1800s and hopefully further back, is the marriage information: Joseph may have married Mary – but Mary who? The original registers vary in their formats and therefore in the details given, but the IGI provides only the baldest name of bride and groom, date and marriage place. We do not know if either partner is ‘of that parish’, single or widowed; full age or minor; we do not know if the marriage was by banns or by licence; we do not know if they signed or made their mark; and from the later register formats, we do not get the information about their occupations or their father and his occupation; and we most certainly do not know who the witnesses were! All this is vital to our search for our forebears.
A number of family history societies have produced indexes to marriages in their area. NNWFHS is now following suit. This is a project that requires volunteers. Everyone can be involved who has a computer, a spreadsheet (“Excel” or one of the freeware versions that Excel can convert, e.g. “Symphony” or “OpenOffice 2”), and access to microfilm of a parish register – wherever in the world they are based.
The work is straightforward (notes are provided to volunteers) and you work at your own pace. It requires an accurate abstraction of the data into a spreadsheet (layout for this is provided). The marriage registers varied at points of time as Acts required new data to be recorded, the template spreadsheet therefore reflects the differences in each register type. In the large, populous parishes it is anticipated that several volunteers will take on an agreed number of years each rather than the daunting task of an entire register. The first thrust will be the 1813-1837 period, then the earlier ones. However, some members have already transcribed parts of registers and our co-ordinator is happy to incorporate these marriages, whichever period they are from; those which are post-1837 can help researchers immensely where they otherwise may have to purchase several certificates to unravel their family!
You can work anyway you wish - providing the end result is a spreadsheet that can be used without the co-ordinator having to retype it! Some will abstract to hand-written sheets, then type those into their computer at home, some will work directly to spreadsheet.
The ultimate aim is to develop a searchable CD for the entire north Warwickshire area, but we accept that the volume of data/number of parishes involved may require some form of interim publication. However, if you volunteer to help it could all happen sooner…
The project is being co-ordinated by member Carole Eales with whom you should make initial contact and ask those “questions”. If you prefer to ask me at one of the open research nights at Nuneaton, I am quite happy to explain what I can.
This is an exciting opportunity for many members to be involved. You never know what may come out of the woodwork – you might just find a brickwall comes crashing down, or that you can help someone else with his or her elusive ancestors. Rewarding work!
Pie in the sky? We hope not – and certainly not if you volunteer to get involved and take on a parish.
Contact Carole Eales on Marriage Index project coordinator who will be pleased to hear from you. If you know which parish you wish to help with, please tell Carole before you start!