With this post I want to update readers on some recent activities, beginning with two birth records I recently acquired and ending with some exciting census news.
We tend to think of official records of births, marriages, and deaths, i.e., vital records, as something that have always been around. However, that isn’t always the case. Laws requiring vital records to be kept only arose as nations and smaller jurisdictions realized they needed better ways to keep track of their citizens for purposes of voting, taxation, budgeting, etc. In some countries, these records go back hundreds of years. In others, they are much more recent. For example, many U.S. states did not require vital records to be kept until early in the 20th century.
Up until 1837, the only vital records in England were those kept by the church for baptisms, marriages, and burials. Sometimes a baptism occurred several years after birth, so the church record did not accurately reflect a person’s birth date.
That changed beginning in July 1837 with new legislation that required civil registration of all births, marriages, and deaths. Most of these records have now been digitized, allowing easy access for family historians for a small fee.
Earlier this year I ordered and received the birth records for Charles and Jesse Casbon, sons of Thomas and Emma (Scruby) Casbon, who emigrated to the United States in 1846. I knew their birth dates from other sources but did not have any official records. They are interesting to compare with the church records.
This is the birth registration of Charles Thomas Casbon, recorded at Melbourn, Cambridgeshire. It is a little difficult to read, so I’ve provided a summary:
- When born (“& where” written in): “Sixth of November 1840 Meldreth”
- Name, if any: [left blank]
- Sex: “Boy”
- Name and Surname of Father: “Thomas Casbon”
- Name and Maiden Surname of Mother: “Emma Casbon formerly Scruby”
- Rank or Profession of Father: “Labourer”
- Signature, Description, and Residence of Informant: “The mark + of Emma Casbon, Mother Meldreth”
- When Registered: “Fourteenth of December 1840”
- Signature of Registrar: “John Trigg Registrar”
Notice that the child’s given name isn’t entered into the register. Either the parents had not yet decided upon a name or chose not to record it. However, six days later, he was given the name Thomas Charles at his baptism in Meldreth.
When Jesse’s birth was registered in December 1843, his name was given as Joseph.
Joseph was the name of Thomas Casbon’s brother, who died in 1847. Apparently, by the time the child was baptized on 26 May 1844, the parents had a change of heart and named him Jesse.
Thomas and Emma’s two older children, Mary Ann and Sylvester, were born before the requirement for civil registration came into effect (Sylvester missed it by one month!). Thus, we only have their baptismal records. The only record I have of Mary Ann’s birth date (7 January 1833) is her grave marker at Fleming Cemetery in Porter County, Indiana. My sources for Sylvester’s birth date (6 June 1837) are the 1912 History of Porter County and his 1927 obituary in the (Valparaiso, Indiana) Vidette-Messenger.
2022—the year of the census; wait, wasn’t that in 2020?
To genealogists, this is the year of the census. Why? Because the records of two censuses—England and Wales in 1921 and the United States in 1950—were just made public this year. British Law requires individual census records to be kept private for 100 years, so the 1921 census was released on January 1st. The United States government has a 72-year rule for census records; they were released to the public on April 1st.
All these records have been digitized. The England and Wales records are available for a fee on the Find My Past website (https://www.findmypast.co.uk/). If you know where your U.S. ancestors lived, you can find their census records at the National Archives website (https://1950census.archives.gov/) for free. They are also available on several genealogy websites, such as FamilySearch, Ancestry, and My Heritage. The records have not all been indexed, i.e. searchable by name, so you might have to browse through several pages of images to find your relatives.
All this is very exciting news for genealogists and family history buffs. Censuses are only released every ten years, so this is a rare opportunity to gather new information.
These records are great blog fodder, so I will be posting about them in the upcoming weeks and months. Stay tuned!
 History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1912), vol. 2, pp 482-484; ; Online image, Hathi Trust Digital Library (https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/011679885 : accessed 20 Aug 2016). “Death Calls S.V. Casbon; Reached 90,” Vidette Messenger, 10 Dec 1927, p. 1, col. 1; online image, Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries: 14 August 2017).