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Sunday, January 11, 2009

How to find parents of English Ancestors who came to America

Mike asked on Jan. 6/09:
My great-great-great grandparents are:
James (no middle name) Gumm
b. 15 Jan 1829 Charlbury, Oxfordshire, England
d. 20 Apr 1910 Durant, Bryan, Oklahoma

Rosa (no middle name) Busby
b. 21 Apr 1824 Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, England
d. 07 Mar 1911 1910 Durant, Bryan, Oklahoma

I know that they arrived in New York 4 Jun 1853 on the Excelsior out of Liverpool, England

I have found England censuses that I think are for them, but without middle names, it's a guess. :-) How do I find out for sure whether this is actually them or not? If the census I found is actually for James, evidently his father is named James too. Any help clarifying this is appreciated.

OLIVE TREE ANSWERS: Hi Mike, Thanks for submitting your query in such an organized way. It really helps me to help you.

The first thing that came to my mind after reading your query is to think about where we might find the names of James and Rosa's parents. There are three main events in life where this information is recorded - birth or baptism records, marriage records and death records. There are a series of articles online called Ancestor Birth Record Finder, Ancestor Marriage Record Finder and Ancestor Death Record Finder which might help researchers figure out where to find these records, from the rather obvious places to the more obscure.

Since your ancestors were born in England before Civil Registration was required, you would have to search local church (Parish) records, or Bishops' Transcripts to find their baptisms. That usually has to be done offline, through a Family History Center.

Their death records may or may not include their parents' names, depending on Oklahoma's regulations in 1910. So marriage records is the easiest and fastest item to search in this case. has the free indexes online for Marriages in the UK after 1839 but I prefer to use Free BMD. FreeBMD is an ongoing project to transcribe the Civil Registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales. As they complete their transcriptions they turn them over to There is no charge for using the indexes at either site but I like the Free BMD Search Engine better.

I found James and Rosa, but before I give you the information and tell you how and where to order the full marriage certificate, let me briefly touch on the problems one can encounter when searching for an ancestor. First, if you search for JAMES GUMM and ROSA BUSBY in the Marriages at FreeBMD you will not find them. If you search for JAMES GUMM and ROSE BUSBY they do not appear. I tried several searches without success and then used ROSE BUSBY (not Rosa) and no groom's name. Bingo!

James has been indexed as GOMM and Rosa as Rose. They were married in the second quarter (Apr-June) of 1853, so just before they sailed to America. The District was Chipping Norton and they are found in Volume:3a on Page: 815

Here is the entry as transcribed:

Busby Rose Chipping Norton 3a 815
Gomm James Chipping N 3a 815

Now you can order their marriage certificate and when it arrives you will find the name of the fathers of both bride and groom as well as their occupations. A place of residence will be noted, plus names of witnesses. Often these are other family members which will help you to locate the right families in the census.

You can order the certificates online at General Register Office for England and Wales online ordering service. I have used this service frequently as both my maternal grandparents were born in England (and their ancestors before them). It is fast, reliable and a reasonable cost. You need the information from the Free BMD or Ancestry search of the indexes in order to request a certificate. The turnaround time is quite speedy and within a few weeks of ordering you will see the certificate arrive. Have fun and please let us know here on AskOliveTree what you found!

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