I know that this tip works for all of the UK. I have not tried it with any US people since I don’t have very many in my list.
We have all had those instances where we see on the census records the family, but we don’t know the wife’s maiden name. And without it, we can hit some serious stumbling blocks as to tracing those lines back further. Well, I have discovered a way to find this information out quickly and for free! Yes, you read that right. FOR FREE!
I will use an example of one that I had just done. This way you can see how it works. Then run (don’t walk) to your family tree and try it for yourself…
I had located Harry Balderson on the 1901 England census with wife Jessie and daughter Annie. Now I had no clue what Jessie’s maiden name was. So I needed to look it up. I opened up my browser to http://www.findmypast.co.uk. You will need an account to search, but you don’t have to subscribe to it for what I am going to show you.
On the top bar, hover your mouse over “Search records” until the drop down menu opens. Then select “Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish Records”.
Now click on the down arrow nest to “All Collections” and choose “Marriage and Divorces”. Then in the “Who” section in the “First Name” field, type the wife’s first name In my case it would be Jessie. (Trust me on this one. Think of it as reverse lookup). Then down in the “Spouse Field” in the “First Name” type in the husband’s first name. In my case it would be Harry. Then again in the “Spouse Field” type the husband’s last name in the “Last Name” spot. In my case it was Balderson. I left the “Where” section at the default of Britain and didn’t fill in anything else.
Finally click on “Search Marriages & Divorces in Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish Records”. Their search will now show all Jessie’s that are listed in the same marriage certificates as any Harry Balderson. Now if they are both common names, then you may have to scroll through a few pages of listings or you could narrow down the search by typing in the year of birth as it appeared in the census. If you do that then I would suggest changing the “Give or take” section to -/+ 5 years.
Here is what the final page for the search for Jessie who was married to Harry Balderson looks like.
And since I know that this is where they were living, I now know the maiden name of Harry Balderson’s wife is Jessie Pickering.
I have done this multiple times and have been able to verify this is correct. I have even tried it on one’s where I do have a confirmed last name just to verify that this method worked properly.
Have fun & Happy hunting!