I have just received a bundle of copies of family history material found when my late aunt died (in 2013). Including copies of some certificates which I already have... except.

Why might somebody apply for a English copy birth certificate in the first half of the 20th century?

My grandfather Robert Wright (b 1896 d 1967). Somebody (unknown) applied to Somerset House (where the UK GRO used to be) and a copy birth certificate was issued on 1 June 1926. There's no obvious event in his descendants' history that would prompt a requirement for his birth certificate, and his mother didn't die until 1932. However his father's death is unknown (sometime after between 1924 and maybe 1932) so this may be a factor.

My grandmother Dorothy Brookes (b 1896, d 1980). Somebody (equally unknown) applied to Somerset House and a copy birth certificate was issued on 27 June 1959. Again, why? there's no obvious precipitating family event (her siblings all died before she married; and her children were all married and the dob of all her grandchildren do not coincide).

  • Did the GRO keep a record of who applied for a copy of a certificate at that time? I'm assuming that they would now.
    – PolyGeo
    Nov 17 '19 at 22:50
  • 3
    ID may be required to get other ID (driving licence, passport etc) or financial transactions (mortgage, insurance, probate etc). Does anything like that sound plausible?
    – AndyW
    Nov 18 '19 at 0:12
  • @AndyW, neither of them drove; they lived in the same council house from 1928 (when it was built) until their deaths in 1967 (Robert) and 1980 (Dorothy). Dorothy's family all died before she married (no inheritances); Robert might have inherited something from his father, if I can ever find his father's death. His siblings all died long before 1926 or long afterwards.
    – user104
    Nov 18 '19 at 8:36
  • @PolyGeo possibly, but I doubt those records are accessible, even if they're retained for so long.
    – user104
    Nov 18 '19 at 8:37
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    @ColeValleyGirl, yes I suspected those might be unlikely in this case. But I reckon it's most probable that they ordered their own certificates (both were alive at the times of the orders), and it must have been for some fairly important reasons. Dorothy's cert was ordered when both were in their 60s, so perhaps could be pension or healthcare related? (It looks like recovering a lost NI number might need a birth cert, for example.)
    – AndyW
    Nov 18 '19 at 10:36

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