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In my vast family tree, I have 24 males by the name of William Siddle who were born prior to 1900 in England, and all appear to have been born in either the Yorkshire or Durham areas. This isn’t a huge problem really as for the majority of them, they each have their own birth year, and by cross referencing census records and birth registry indexes I have been able to reasonably confidently assign birth years and birth quarters to each of these people.

However, from my initial findings, I have 6 people born in the same year as another, two in 1851, two in 1854, and two in 1859. To work out which birth index record belonged to which person, without resorting to purchasing each birth record, took some detective work and a lot of cross referencing. For this example, I am going to use my 1854 pair, and I am going to walk you through my process of determinining which birth record I should attach to each of these people.

I already knew from census records that one was born in Hurst, Yorkshire, and the other was born in Shildon, Durham and both have ages recorded consistent with being born about 1854.

William Siddle Births 1853-1855

William Siddle Births 1853-1855

First of all, I went to FreeBDM and looked up all William Siddle’s born between 1853 and 1855, not specifying any District or County. This gave me a surprising 9 results. My next step then had to be determining in which county each of these districts was located.

By clicking on each District name I was able to find out that Docking is part of the Norfolk County and so could rule out that record immediately. Auckland and Durham Districts are part of Durham County, and Teesdale sits on the border of Durham and North Riding of Yorkshire, while the remainder are part of the various Yorkshire counties as they stand today.

My next step involves Google Maps and locating each place in relation to each other. Teesdale was difficult to locate but I suspect that it may now be part of Barnard Castle in Durham.

By plotting Shildon, Bishop Auckland (aka Auckland), Barnard Castle, and Durham on a map, I could immediately see that Bishop Auckland is much closer to Shildon geographically and is therefore more likely to be the registration location for a Shildon birth. This puts the Shildon born William Siddle as being registered in the Apr-May-June quarter of 1854. To confirm this further I will have to look for a baptism record.

The Hurst Yorkshire born William Siddle proved a little more challenging. After plotting the locations on a map, the locations showed a clear difference in geographical location. Halifax, Hunslet and Leeds are clearly in a more southern part of Yorkshire (although the County is called West Riding of Yorkshire) , while Reeth, Richmond and my known birth location of Hurst are all located in the northern part of Yorkshire. This, I could rule out Halifax, Hunslet & Leeds as likely registration points.

When I first saw the FreeBDM search results, because I knew that my Hurst born William Siddle has had his death registered in Richmond, my first thought was that the Richmond birth must also be his. However, the date of the Richmond birth didn’t tally up with the age declared at death and the ages declared on each of the intervening census records. I therefore ruled out the Richmond birth as well.

This left me with just the Reeth registered birth left. However this registration was for the December quarter of 1853, could this possibly be right? Well, yes, it can be. On each census record, the Hurst born William Siddle’s age is recorded as 7, 17, 27, 37, 47, and 57. Yes, 7 years prior to 1861 is 1854, but had William had his birthday yet that year?

In the 1861 census, which had a census date of April 7th, a child born between 8 April and 31 December would not yet have had their birthday, so if they were born in 1854, they would be recorded as being aged 6. However a child born between 1 January and 7 April of 1854 will have had their 7th birthday by the time the census is taken. Similarly going back a year, children born between 8 April & 31 Dec of 1853 will have had their 7th birthday but not their 8th like those born on or before 7 April 1853. Therefore I can safely say that the Hurst born William Siddle was born between April of 1853 and April 1854, and therefore the Reeth registration is most likely to be the correct registration for this person’s birth. A baptism record may agin help with further confirmation of this.

Now that I have those two 1854 William Siddle’s sorted out, and found that one is actually an 1853 Siddle, I just have to work out where the other 7 William’s might fit into my family tree.

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