Need help with finding birth records in Middlesex, England

+2 votes

Hello! I am trying to find the records for this family (my 3rd great grandmother, her second husband and children), but I am not having any more luck with Ancestry or FamilySearch. I can not find any of their baptism records. Is there a place where I can search through birth/baptism records in mid 1800s Middlesex, England? John and Sarah (Covell) Pullen had several children, but I can not find any information on them. I found them in the 1851 and 1871 census. I can not even find Sarah (Covell) Whittingham in the 1841 census where she should be with her first husband, John Whittingham, my 3rd great grandfather. Are there links where I can go to search through Middlesex Records? Thank you!

WikiTree profile: Sarah Pullen
in Genealogy Help by Missy Berryann G2G6 Pilot (167k points)
edited by Missy Berryann
This site is very useful in helping to decipher Parish Records:

Remember, people living in MDX may have been baptised in London, Essex, Kent and/or Surrey.

Another excellent place to get help is the FamilySearch Wiki.

GRO registration didn't take place until the 3rd quarter of 1837 and wasn't mandatory until about the 1870's.
Thank you, Rosemary!

4 Answers

+4 votes
by Marion Poole G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)

Yes, I have, but I’ll keep looking. Thank you! I prefer to scan through actual records, if possible. wink

+4 votes

You could always order the actual birth records from GRO. I found Rebecca's birth record, but her mother's "maiden" name is actually her previous married name on the record.

GRO Reference: 1850  M Quarter in THE ROMFORD UNION  Volume 12  Page 240

by Jessica Key G2G6 Pilot (224k points)

Thank you so much! I wonder why we can not find the others?


I found a few more:


GRO Reference: 1847  D Quarter in ST LUKE CHELSEA  Volume 03  Page 56


GRO Reference: 1852  M Quarter in KENSINGTON PADDINGTON AND FULHAM  Volume 01A  Page 32

PULLIN, MARY  JANE                 COVELL

GRO Reference: 1855  J Quarter in MARYLEBONE  Volume 01A  Page 425

Edit: improved formatting 

Thank you, Nic! I have a question though. Is this saying the mother is Mary Ann Covell? It should be Sarah Covell. Please let me know. Thank you!!


GRO Reference: 1847  D Quarter in ST LUKE CHELSEA  Volume 03  Page 56

Sorry, the formatting is not great. This child had three first names i.e. Sarah Mary Ann PULLIN. The index only lists the mother's maiden name, never any first name(s).

When you look up lots on the GRO, you get used to the format.  You automatically see the "Name" and "Mother's Maiden Surname" headers even when they're not there.

Thank you!
+3 votes

I couldn't find Sarah in the 1841 census, but did find her on FamilySearch in the 1861 Census and 1881 Census.

I also found a baptism record for Rebecca on Findmypast:

Record set Essex Baptism Index 1538-1920

First name(s) Rebecca

Last name Pullen

Baptism year 1849

County Essex

Country England

Place Romford, St Edward the Confessor

Mother's first name(s) Sarah

Father's first name(s) John

Father's last name Pullen

Baptism date 29 Dec 1849

Father's occupation Stone Mason

Residence Romford

Archive Essex Record Office

Archive reference D/P 346/1/6

by Nic Donnelly G2G6 Mach 6 (67.7k points)

Thank you so much! I am wondering about the 1861 census though, because Thomas C (my great great grandfather) had left for America in 1857, so he should not be in the 1861 census. He was John Whittingham’s son. Thank you for your help! I really appreciate it.


You're welcome. Could his immigration date be out by a few years? I've sometimes found the immigration year provided in the 1910 census to be misleading.
What do you think about Findmypast? Is it worth the money?  If I'm going to shell out for these records, I want to pick the right site
For GRO records for England and Wales the only place you can get the certificate from is the GRO

The commercial sites only have the publically available indexes.

The commercial sites do have images of church copies of marriages in some cases but each has different parts of the country.

GRO isn't much use for the 16th century, alas

Nic, he was definitely in America by 1861, because he married Josephine Meade on Oct 26, 1861 at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. And then served in the Civil War right after.

The 1861 England Census took place on 7 April. So a late October marriage in the United States is tight, but certainly possible. Have you found him in the 1860 US Census?

Actually the earliest I have found my great great grandfather in America is on Aug 19, 1861 when he mustered into the Civil War. I did get the 1857 immigration date from the 1910 census, as you must have seen. BUT... the other thing that makes me wonder about whether that 1861 England census is that it does not include Thomas’s middle initial C (for Charles). I don’t think I have seen him anywhere where the C was NOT there. In almost every case, I ignore that detail in one census, but in his case, he was referred to as TC in most places I have seen so far. Plus my grandfather, his grandson said he always went by TC. I AM starting to think, however, that he may have come later than 1857. What do you think? Thank you so much for taking the time to help me with this.

Missy laugh

I agree that the "Thomas" in the 1861 census is worth questioning.

I'm confident that this is your family, with most discrepancies being easily explainable (eg six-year old "Janie" in the census is the Mary Jane born in 1855 found in the GRO records above).

But I do think it is unusual for a 23-year-old man to be recorded as aged 15, as would be the case if this is your ancestor Thomas Charles Whittingham. The age actually matches James Pullen rather well (who was aged 6 in the 1851 census).

I can't explain this discrepancy, other than to say that the census records we see are a transcription of the original household forms (which may not have even been completed by a householder if they had limited literacy). For example, the name "Tomas" without an "h" is very close to the name "James" in cursive handwriting. So the 15-year old "Thomas" could actually be "James". Obviously this is speculative.

Another possibility is that T.C.'s age was given as 25, but got mis-transcribed as 15. Again, this is pure speculation!

That image is a transcription of the original form. Each household filled out an individual form, which the enumerator then copied into a Census Enumerator's Book. Sometimes mistakes were made when copying the data.

I agree that it is definitely "Thomas" in the image from the Census Enumerator's Book. But unfortunately we cannot know for certain what was originally on the form the household completed, as these forms have all been destroyed for the 1841-1901 censuses. Some information about the process is available on Wikipedia

So what we see in the transcription on sites such as FamilySearch is actually a transcription of a transcription!

The exception is the 1911 Census, where the original household schedules were retained and are now readily available online.

I just wish I could see the original document, but I will take your word for it. Thank you for your help!
My grandfather told me that his grandfather came right off the boat and into the Civil War. I never took it literally, but maybe that is really what happened! Thank you for your help!
+2 votes

The census records you have given suggest a birth date of around 1821. Have you got the correct baptism record? I have know wives' ages to be reduced when they are older than their husband but it seems strange when she is the widowed mother in law for it to continue.

I did find a John and Sarah Whittingham in 1841 census but again she is born about 1821 as is John. The census taker seems to have ignored the instructions to round the ages.


by Tim Partridge G2G6 Mach 3 (36.0k points)

Sarah is a child we have not ever seen or heard of. There has been research done in England by a cousin too. I do not think this is my John and Sarah Whittingham. Their son, Thomas C Whittingham, is not there and he was only 4 yrs old in 1841. Thank you again! smiley


Their first son, Thomas C Whittingham, was born on May 16, 1837. In the 1851 England census, his mother was listed as being born in about 1818. She was older than John Pullen in that census. wink I doubt she was born in 1821 when she was already married to her first husband, John Whittingham, by July 25, 1836. If you feel Sarah’s baptism could be later than May 29, 1816, then please let me know.

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