2

While trying to identify family relationships surrounding my ancestors in England, I found that FindMyPast has a "MarriageFinder" tool that identifies marriage relationships based on England marriage indexes.

The England marriage records show the last name of the spouse to be, and also the district and volume & page number of the marriage certificate. It appears that the tool find the possible marriage matches based on index information, and returns search results by name.

How accurate is this MarriageFinder tool?

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Assuming that the indexes are 100% accurate, then the Marriage Finder will be 100% accurate, given that the spouse will always have the same Volume, Page and Quarter as the input person.

However, please note that the output is usually a list of marriages - if you are looking for a marriage of a named bride in a specific district and quarter, then the best that you will get is a choice of 2 grooms, who are the 2 grooms on that page. If there are 2 brides with those details, you will get 4 potential grooms.

Even if you supply the name of John for the groom, you might get multiple choices if both grooms on that page are named John.

NB most GRO pages contain 2 marriages - I have an idea that the earliest had more, so that you will see more options.

If indexes are mistranscribed, the marriage finder will not be accurate.

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As stated in the previous answer, any system which shows you the names of the spouses on the same page can only be as accurate or as complete as the indexes themselves are. If the transcribers cannot read the reference on the printed index page, the marriage finder will not be accurate.

A simple way to check the results is to perform the same search on another site which offers a similar feature.

For an example, I'll search for the marriage in 1841 in Sheffield for the couple George Hindley and Hannah Drake, whom I've mentioned in previous questions. All the sites below offer the user the ability to click through and view images of the original index books -- for clarity, I have removed the references to those features from these transcriptions.

FreeBMD gives two results for marriages with spouses Hindley and Drake in the West Riding of Yorkshire. This is the one I'm interested in:

Surname   First name(s)       District    Vol     Page 
Marriages Sep 1841   (>99%)
HINDLEY    George      Sheffield   22 448 

Clicking on the page link gives the following list of people who have the same index entry and are presumably on the same register page. Here we see that the two transcribers have slightly different readings for one of the entries.

 Surname      First name(s)       District    Vol     Page  Marriages Sep 1841
 (>99%) 
CLIFF  Ann Spuckman        Sheffield   22 448    
CLIFT  Ann Spuckman        Sheffield   22 448    
DOLMAN     Elizabeth       Sheffield   22 448    
DRAKE  Hannah      Sheffield   22 448
GLOSSOP    John    Sheffield   22 448    
HINDLEY    George      Sheffield   22 448    
HORNER  Henry      Sheffield   22 448

Ancestry's data (provided to them by FreeBMD) shows this on the 'record' page:

 Name:    George Hindley
 Registration Year:   1841
 Registration Quarter:    Jul-Aug-Sep
 Registration district:   Sheffield
 Inferred County:     Yorkshire West Riding
 Volume:  22
 Page:    448
 Records on Page:     
 Name
 Ann Spuckman Clift
 Elizabeth Dolman
 Hannah Drake
 John Glossop
 George Hindley
 Henry Horner 

As far as I know, Find My Past does not have a 'tool' whereby you can enter the Registration district name along with the year, volume and page number. They show the results as a banner across their transcription page. For my George Hindley search, the MarriageFinder banner says:

 GEORGE HINDLEY married one of these people
 HANNAH DRAKE, ELIZABETH DOLMAN, ANN SPUCKMAN CLIFF

The Genealogist's feature requires you to click an icon to find the spouses on the same page. Like Find My Past, they strip out the groom's names and show only the brides if you start with the groom, and show only potential grooms if you start with the bride.

That being said -- your question 'How accurate is this MarriageFinder?' hides some hidden assumptions, which I'll make explicit here.

We've all gleaned information from indexes when we don't have access to the original records -- and in some cases of record loss, it may be that the index is all we have. But the GRO indexes are not original historical source records -- they are a finding aid. We can 'look forward' in time and try to find couples in other records, like the census, to guess which groom and bride belong to each other, but it is still only a guess. We also assume that the record set will have our couple in it, and that the record set is complete. These things may not be true. Note that FreeBMD has this warning on the results page, along with a link to their coverage table.

FreeBMD hasn't yet transcribed the whole index

It's also possible that the couple you're looking for did not marry in the time and place you assumed they did.

Let's take a look at a different couple, starting with the bride shown in this registration found on FamilySearch: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2D3T-448

 Mary Ann Coyde
 England and Wales Marriage Registration Index
 Name     Mary Ann Coyde
 Event Type   Marriage
 Registration Quarter     Jul-Aug-Sep
 Registration Year    1851
 Registration District    Totnes
 County   Devon
 Event Place  Totnes, Devon, England
 Volume   9
 Page     593
 Line Number  36

 Mary Ann Coyde probably married one of the following people
 Name     Henry Fellew
 Name     Sophia Holman
 Name     Robert Emanuel Matthews Knowles
 Name     Ann Lake
 Name     George Loye
 Name     Elizabeth Rowden
 Name     William Trace

A researcher cited this registration as evidence for a nearby Knowles-Coyde marriage.

The parish registers for Brixham All Saints, which is in the Totnes Registration District, are on Find My Past. When I looked at the original registers, I found that the first page of the book had a marriage for Robert Emanuel Matthews Knowles and Elizabeth Rowden, and a marriage for George Loye and Mary Ann Coyde. On the second page of that register book, we see the marriage of William Trace and Sophia Holman. The remaining couple in this list, Henry Fellew and Ann Lake, appear on the last page of the previous volume from Brixham All-Saints.

The marriage the other researcher was looking for took place in April of 1832, so it wouldn't have appeared in the civil registrations at all, but if that couple had married in the same parish after the start of civil registration, their marriage would have been registered in Kingsbridge Registration District.

Looking at the index pages alone can only take us so far. There is no substitute for looking at the original registers.

See Best Practices for Reliable Research and QuickLesson 17: The Evidence Analysis Process Map at the Evidence Explained website to learn more.

Resources:

For finding Civil Registrations:

For finding church records once you have the GRO index reference:

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