Which "official" source should I use?

+9 votes
So I have a great-granduncle. I have copies of his Birth registration, his Marriage Registration and his Death Certificate. On the marriage and death documents it lists his birth date as 21 Jul 1875 at a given place. But on his Birth registration is states that the date was 27 Jun 1874 (and the place is the same as the other two).

Which date should I use for his birth? Is there a recognized approach? Should I use the Birth Registration as the @official@ date and simply make a note of the other date?

It seems I see this a lot - differeing dates and it has always puzzlede me as to which one to use.
in The Tree House by Mark Pettigrew G2G Crew (640 points)
Are you sure the birth cert is actually his, and they didn't have another child the following year?
Hi, thanks for the thought. I would say that I am 99% certain it is the same guy being that he has 3 names plus a surname and they all align.
The kind of scenario I had in mind was that a baby died soon after birth and they decided to recycle the birth certificate for the next baby.  There could be advantages in being a year older than you were.

Year-wise (1874 1875) ... is that a Gregorian/Julian calendar thing??  I'm guessin'.  Or, it could be a birth date versus a baptism date ... I'm just full of guesses this AM!

3 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer
Hi in my opinion you should use the birth registration with the other dates referred to in the BIOS.
by R W G2G6 Pilot (259k points)
selected by Dale Byers
With the birth date being the earliest on the birth record I would go with that.  The other documents are filled out based on what whoever took the information was told with no checking involved so it could be a case of someone wanting to appear younger than they actualy were for whatever reason.  I have encountered this in my own research when early recorde state that a person is years older than would be possible based on later records.  A birth or baptisim record is usually filled out shortly after birth and by someone who witnessed the event.
That is the way I thought of it as well. Plus the entry is on a page of many other 1874 births so it is unlinkely that it was back dated - after all how did they know to pick the date.
+2 votes
The Genealogy Proof Standard, 4th Edition by Christine Rose page 26, gives a quick summary of how to handle this. More or less, she suggests looking for additional  evidence, such as military records,etc. When a a conclusion is reached, cite all sources & explain in your proof argument why you chose a particular date.

Also, if possible check to see who provided the info for the documents.
by Doug Lockwood G2G Astronaut (2.4m points)
edited by Doug Lockwood
+3 votes
In the UK you had to register a birth within 6 weeks or face a fine.  Some parents were late in registering and so lied about the date to avoid having to pay up.

On your birth certificate - if the stated date of birth and the day of registration are exaclety 6 weeks apart (or 5 weeks, 6 days) then I would go with the marriage/death certifatce date as that is the date that your uncle would know as his birthday.
by Alison Wilkins G2G6 Mach 2 (29.7k points)
Sorry to disagree about the person knowing his birth date but I know someone who always said that she was born  in 1929 but she was listed in the 1930 census with her younger sister(3) and a younger brother(1) so that date would be impossible.  Also in this case the birth record is over  a year earlier than the other records.

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