Dates on certificates #general

Judith Romney Wegner

Sandra asked:

So here's my question: can we suppose that the age given in the marriage
certificate is more accurate than the ones given on the birth certificates of
the person's children? I am assuming that when a man got married, all his
documents or other information were checked, and maybe when they registered a
child, this was not that important. Can I assume this?
Alas, no, you can't rely on them having checked birth certificates, etc.
I've found numerous discrepancies between birth and marriage certificates
in my own family.

My grandfather was born on Feb 8th 1864, as was reported in an Auckland NZ
newspaper dated Feb 9th -- yet his certificate gives Feb 15th, which
obviously must be wrong! We don't know whether my ggf got confused about
the date when he registered his son's birth five weeks later, or whether he
simply fudged it to avoid a fine for being out of time in filing the

Thirty-eight years later, when he married my grandmothe in 1903. the
marriage certificate says he was only 36. It also states erroneously my
grandmother was 24, yet her b.c. shows that had just turned 25. It beats
me what the motivation to give false information could have been in this
case. Maybe the room was noisy and the clerk misheard what they said to

Here's another one: One of my great aunts and her husband, whose birth
records I have, did just the opposite -- they inflated their ages. both
claiming to be 21 on their English marriage certificate. Since the cert.
also indicates that they married in a registry office rather than a
synaogue, I have to conclude that they eloped due to family opposition to
the match, and had to claim they were 21 because otherwise they would have
needed parental consent in writing.

In these last two cases, it seems fairly that the parties cannot possibly
have produced their birth certificates, or the clerk would surely have
noticed the discrepancies. So it looks as though registry clerks simply
took the parties' ages on trust unless they seemed obviously impossible!

Judith Romney Wegner

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