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In the 1990's, Ted Wildy of New Zealand created an index of marriage witnesses, which had contributions of the names of the witnesses of many marriages in the UK (as well as Australia and New Zealand).

After his death in 1997, much of it was lost. Early fragments of it exist, and a UK site said they were going to put a later version online in 2009, but I don't think anything came of that.

So, this is a two part question. Does the final Ted Wildy UK marriage witness index exist online in any form? It was a lot of data for the time, a tiny amount for now, but it would still be nice to see it live on.

Secondly, and more importantly, is anybody doing anything similar now with the much larger amount of data currently available? For example, parish records for selected counties in England are now on Ancestry and FindMyPast. There could be a project to transcribe the marriage witnesses. Does any such project exist? Any other index based on perhaps FreeReg, or from GRO certificates?

Marriage witnesses can be very useful to help identify the bride or the groom, as they are often connected to them in some way, such as being a brother or sister, or come from the same small village. With an index, it's possible to find more "known associates" of a named person as they become a witness for relatives or workmates, and build a more complete picture of their life.

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How was the index originally disseminated? Was he part of a society or was this his own personal resource i.e. how were queries looked up and answered (privately by him or was there a printed list somewhere)? Was it at one time online and now isn't? If so, a 'wayback' machine might be able to find it for you. – Canadian Girl Scout Dec 18 '12 at 5:47
Additional Details:… – Sam Dec 18 '12 at 5:50
Sam, I'm aware of the page (and how the index got lost), but they don't seem to have progressed beyond "coming soon" since 2009. CGS, Sam's link covers more of the background (it was pre-web). But my main interest is whether there is any similar but new project around, since Ted's work was a lot of data for that time but a tiny amount for now. – Rob Hoare Dec 18 '12 at 5:54
This isn't enough for an answer but I did notice that… indicates the UK portion was entrusted to Faye Guthrie. – ACProctor Dec 18 '12 at 11:53

FreeREG does transcribe witness names where they are given in the register, and searching on FreeREG will search the witness names as well as the names of the bride and groom, and of the parents where given.

It's likely that the rewrite of the FreeREG web site which is currently under way will include the ability to specify which types of names you are interested in when searching the index.

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I'm also hoping that the planned new version of FreeREG will have searching by witnesses, I haven't see anything written on what their plans are. Hopefully there will also be a more useful license for the data. Currently the T&C's, like FreeBMD, don't permit any part of it to be reproduced in any form, for any purpose, commercial or not (so can't be used legally in a personal published tree). Would be nice if there was a parallel project to get similar data from GRO or local registry office certificates - I believe there are some transcriptions under way for some registration districts. – Rob Hoare Dec 19 '12 at 0:00

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