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I am having difficulty tracing back my grandfather’s line, both the paternal and maternal ancestors. My grandfather, Edward DAVIES, the son of Solomon DAVIES and Catherine HUGHES, was born in Middlesbrough in 1913, in the same year that his father died. Solomon DAVIES was born in 1870 in Middlesbrough. His birth certificate shows his parents as David DAVIES and Lucy EVANS. However, when he married in 1891 his father is named as Stephen DAVIES (deceased). I am unable to find any details/records of a marriage between Lucy EVANS and David/Stephen DAVIES.

            On checking the census records I could only find entries in 1881 and 1891 for this family. In 1881, it appears that Lucy DAVIES was now a Lucy HART, living with a John HART (again no marriage record). The children in the household all bear the name HART, although Rachel, Solomon and Henry are shown as step-children. They are living at 19 Burn Road, Stranton, Durham. Lucy HART's birthplace is listed as Mastig, South Wales, and her date of birth would have been between 1836 and 1841.

            In 1891, Solomon is not longer living with the family – he has married Catherine HUGHES. The family are living at 29 Dock Street, Middlesbrough. This is the address that Solomon DAVIES was living at the time of his marriage.

            Catherine HUGHES was born c1873. On her marriage certificate, her father is listed as Edward HUGHES (deceased). I think I have her birth certificate but can not guarantee its authenticity. If it is hers, then her father is Edward HUGHES and mother Margaret WILLIAMS. Once again, I can’t find any records of a marriage between her parents.

            As marriage certificates and census records are inconclusive, how can I progress my family tree further back?

Tracey Brown


When one finds that the name of the father of the bride or groom on a marriage certificate is something other than what was expected, it can be a frustrating situation, but it is not uncommon. There are several reasons why this might be the case. If the person getting married was born illegitimately then he or she may simply have made the name up, or perhaps used a step-father’s, brother’s or uncle’s name. Alternatively, if the parent had died – perhaps when the bride or groom was a small child – they might not actually know or be certain of their father’s name.

            As you cannot find any marriage of John HART and Lucy EVANS/DAVIES, there is the possibility that there never was a marriage. This could indicate that one of them was still married: either Lucy herself or possible John HART.

            One immediate question is where was Lilian DAVIES in 1881? Where were the whole family in 1871? The 1881 and 1891 census returns indicate that Solomon had three full-siblings: Rachel, born about 1865; Henry born about 1870 and Lilian born about 1874. Have you obtained any of the birth certificates relating to these three? Henry might prove to be the most useful as this would possibly give an address for the 1871 census.

            You say that Solomon was born in Middlesbrough, but the 1881 census gives Hartlepool, and it was in Stockton RD where his birth was registered.

            Although you have not been able to find any marriage of Lucy EVANS and David/Stephen DAVIES, I note that in the September Quarter1874, Neath Registration District, there is recorded the marriage of David DAVIES and possibly Lucy EVANS. Have you checked this entry out and obtained the certificate itself? This marriage may be after the births of the children but nevertheless must be worthy of further investigation, especially as Maesteg is in Neath RD.

            The online indexes to the early census returns include a number of possible entries for Lucy EVANS in the Neath area. It might be worth concentrating on finding Lucy in the 1841 to 1871 returns in the hope of discovering the families she is with, as she appears on the face of it to be the only constant in the information you do have.

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