Grandma and The Mysterious Mr Bates.

I’ve been trying to trace my maternal grandmother’s family for years. Since my DNA results proved the story about the Native American ancestor was false I have been looking again at the evidence regarding Grandma and the mysterious Mr Bates.

Searching index records I had discovered that grandmother Tyson was apparently married to Charles Henry Bates in 1902. It seemed logical that my best chance of finding more about grandmother’s family was to order a copy of the marriage certificate. The certificate would contain the names of the parents of both spouses as well as two witnesses who might have been relatives.

I ordered the certificate direct from the government website which seems cheaper at £9.25 than via the commercial family tree sites. I had never used the service before and the process seemed complicated at first due to what appears to be a surfeit of helpful information links. I eventually found the right form and entered the information required, finding the volume and page number from the register images that I had downloaded from Ancestry. Job done; I now had to wait for the certificate to arrive.

Another source of further information would be church registers which record banns and marriages.

Searching again for these I found banns for a Caroline Long; the transcription read: Marriage Place: Beddington, St Mary, Surrey, England. This perhaps should have read: St Mary’s Church, Beddington, Surrey, England. Checking maps I found Beddington was close to Croydon where my grandmother was apparently born. The record also said that they were widow and widower. As my grandmother would only have been about fifteen then it did seem unlikely that she would be a widow (although the legal age for marriage was then only thirteen) and this was not Mr Bates.

I made a very surprising find.

When looking at images from marriage and banns registers it is a good idea to explore adjacent entries. You may find a relative or friend got married on the same day; a double wedding. This is what I did on this occasion and look what I found. The Caroline Long I was looking at was on page 29. I moved on to page 30 and 31. On page 31 to my surprise, there in entry number 93, was Charles Henry Bates.

What was going on here I wondered? There are of course hundreds if not thousands of Charles Henry Bates but this was near Croydon and in the same year and quarter as my grandmother’s marriage. Was there a mix-up in recording the Banns? I can’t wait for that certificate to arrive.   See the result here

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