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    GRO Reference Required

    I want to order a birth certificate for my great aunt, Mabel Constance Clarke who was baptised at Bramfield, Suffolk on 28th April 1885. I believe she was born at Westleton, Suffolk on 3rd April 1885, although the 1939 register gives her date of birth as 30th April 1885 - two days after her christening!

    I use Ancestry, and cannot find her reference details on the England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915. I have also searched on the GRO Online Index search without success. Normally, this is straightforward information to find, so I am puzzled as to why I am having this difficulty.

    Hopefully, one of you will find the answer straightaway!

    You could try omitting the first names and searching under Clark rather than Clarke and for either spelling using her mother's maiden name and + or - 2 years in case she was born out of the district you expect.


      Have you tried using the mother's maiden name and just surname?
      Family Tree site

      Researching: Luggs, Freeman - Cornwall; Dayman, Hobbs, Heard - Devon; Wilson, Miles - Northants; Brett, Everett, Clark, Allum - Herts/Essex
      Also interested in Proctor, Woodruff


        Are her parents Henry and Frances Ann?

        If so looks like Frances' maiden name is Holness. In 1885 there is a girl registered as Clarke mmn Holness but her name is Catherine Sarah. Only thing is it is Dec qtr but Blything district.

        Searching Lowe, Everitt, Hurt and Dunns in Nottingham


          I think this is her registered as plain Mabel with the mother’s ms mistranscribed as Holneps. Perhaps, as was very common, a middle name appears by the time of the baptism.


          Last edited by GallowayLass; 11-07-19, 14:56.


            Thank you all for helping me with this query.

            Lin – you were almost there, as Mabel’s parents were Henry Clarke & Frances Ann Clarke (nee Holness) and Catherine Sarah Clarke was Mabel’s older sister. Blything was where some of the other siblings were registered. Galloway Lass – you took this information a little further and the second link is the correct one, with exactly the reference I need to obtain the birth certificate.

            I didn't expect to find this birth registered in the ‘S’ quarter considering the date of the baptism, and didn’t think to look at the Jul-Sept Quarter, only the earlier ones!
            The two April baptism records give the full name 'Mabel Constance' so it is a real surprise to find only the name 'Mabel' used when the birth was registered sometime after July. Intriguingly, the 1939 Register also shows her as just Mabel Clarke, with the ‘C’ added in green pen later.

            It will be interesting to see what the actual birth certificate shows.

            I really appreciate all he help you have given me, thank you.


              The birth registration on GRO shows the exact information that was on the registration, apart from mistranscriptions

              Therefore, I would be surprised to see the certificate show anything other than Mabel.

              But you might also find a wrong date of birth on that certificate .............. there was a fine if a birth was not registered within 6 weeks, and it is not uncommon to find a mother or person reporting the birth to lie and say the birth was later in order to avoid that fine.

              The family might have celebrated her birthday on 30th April for that reason.

              We always believed that my grandfather was born on December 25th 1886 or possibly 1885 (depending on how old he said he was in any conversation) ........ nope, it was January 9 1885, but he wasn't baptized until December 19 1886 along with his younger sister! To confuse matters even more, his attestation papers for WW1 give an age equivalent to a birth on December 25 1884, and that is also the date on the 1939 Register for him.

              I'm almost convinced that our ancestors did such things just to confuse us!!!
              My grandmother, on the beach, South Bay, Scarborough, undated photo (poss. 1929 or 1930)

              Researching Cadd, Schofield, Cottrell in Lancashire, Buckinghamshire; Taylor, Park in Westmorland; Hayhurst in Yorkshire, Westmorland, Lancashire; Hughes, Roberts in Wales.


                Thank you, Sylvia, that is very interesting!

                I didn’t know about the fine for not registering a birth within six weeks, and I am now wondering why Mabel’s parents put off doing it. Was it forgetfulness or laziness, or was there a good reason? They had eleven children altogether and Mabel is the only one where there was any delay in registration. Mabel’s birth date of 3rd April comes from a church record held by a local historian I contacted, and this fits in with the baptism record on Ancestry of 28th April. There was another sibling who died (aged 2) of diptheria on 28th March, less than a week before Mabel’s birth. I imagine the family was in some turmoil, and this might account for Mabel’s birth not being registered straight away.

                Your theory about them celebrating Mabel’s birthday on 30th April because that is the date given when registering the birth, sounds plausible too.

                Dropping the name Constance after baptism is also curious unless, in the confusion of the registration, they just forgot that they had given Mabel a second name when they baptised her. I know Mabel had the name Constance, as she lived with our family for a while when I was a young boy. Also, the ‘C’ wouldn’t have been added to Mabel in the 1939 register without reason.

                I have now sent for the birth certificate and can’t wait to see what it might reveal!