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Ask-the-Pros Question and Answer – Finding Maiden Names

Question:

England Births & Christenings 1538-1975 Charles Stewart b. 05 jun 1817 at Wiltshire England. Father is George Stewart, mother Elizabeth without maiden name. How do I find out her maiden name and go back more generations? Past family history tells us this goes back to the Stewart dynasty?

Answer:

This is really two separate questions. The first question asks for help in finding the maiden name of a female ancestor. The second question implies that by finding this ancestor’s name, the line will connect to the Stewart dynasty. The response to the second question is also a question; why would your family’s tradition connect this particular line to royalty if the name is unknown? From the question, we can only assume that proof of the tradition has yet to be found. Perhaps verification of the tradition should be put on hold, unless there is evidence of a connection through a different ancestral line.

Finding a maiden name of an ancestor can be a real challenge. Fortunately, the time period you specify, around 1817, implies that there are possibly a number of different records that might establish a maiden name. The most obvious record would be a marriage record. Wiltshire is a county in England. Unfortunately, you did not specify the parish where the baptismal record (or birth record) was found. There are dozens of parishes in Wiltshire and the availability of the records varies from parish to parish. Identifying the parish and searching the parish records would be the first step. To find a parish in England see “Locate towns and parishes within a County in England” in the FamilySearch Research Wiki. Yo may also wish to look at the list of parishes in the Wiltshire Online Parish Clerks website. For more information you can also begin at the Wiltshire page in the Research Wiki. There is also a complete list of parishes in the Research Wiki.

Some of these types of records will also be helpful in finding a maiden name:

  • Cemetery records
  • Census records
  • Land records
  • Church records
  • Probate records and wills
  • Newspaper records
  • Death records
  • Military records
  • Naming patterns

Look for these topics in the FamilySearch Research Wiki for further information. Also look at Beginning British Research.

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