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Find Your Family - Find My Past

Article Date: 
10 December, 2010 - 06:00

I have written several times about FindMyPast.  Over the past few months they have continued to add to their collection.  Along with FamilySearch, FindMyPast has become the single best place to search for British ancestors.  
FindMyPast.com has added many records recently, including significant additions to their parish register collection, many new memorial inscriptions, additions to the Chelsea Pensioners records and many others.
On Wednesday of this week FindMyPast made a major announcement.  They have released a new marriage search product that allows searching records with both spouses included in the search parameters.  The search will span all the records they hold from 1837 to 2005.  
1837 is a pivotal year in the UK.   It is the year that civil registration began.  Prior to 1837 there is no central record set of births, marriages, and deaths.  To find vital statistics data prior to 1837 the records must be searched by parish.  
There has been one major drawback to searching the civil registration records.  The index that was created is organized by quarters in each year.  To search, the quarter and year must be specified.  Also, the way marriage records were organized means that the search will have to be done for the wife and then for the husband.  The data then must be correlated to see if there is a match for the husband and wife for which you are looking during the time frame in which you are searching.  
The combination of needing to search by quarter, and search individually for each spouse meant that often many searches were required.  When the variation of spellings are included and date ranges are added then the number of searches can increase exponentially.
FindMyPast has introduced two wonderful features for searching for marriages on the vital statistics data.  The new search they have introduced can perform all the searches listed above at once.  The search box allows for space for the husband’s name, the wife’s name, and a date range that can span any date from 1837 to 2005.  It also allows a box to be checked to allow for variants of the name to be searched.  
The records can be searched for free, but to look at the digital image of the index and see the number of the record to be ordered requires either a subscription or will cost five credits (credits cost about $.20 each).  
I did a search for one of my wife’s ancestors.  When I had searched the index using Free BMD in the past it took me about fifteen minutes of searching to find the record.  It came up in just one search at FindMyPast.  I saved about fourteen minutes over the other search method.  Fourteen minutes times the number of ancestors for which I have searched in the Birth, Marriage, Death index is a lot of time.
Unfortunately the National Archives of the United Kingdom has not yet put the images of the civil registration records online.  The records must be ordered online.  They are then delivered hardcopy from the National Archive.  Unfortunately the cost is about $20.00 per certificate.  You really have to save your pennies if you are ordering many certificates and you want to make sure that you order the right one the first time.  
In the past I have ordered a number of certificates that were not my ancestors.  I hope that this new search from FindMyPast will help to reduce the times I order the wrong certificate.
The good news about FindMyPast and this new search is that you can try it for free.  The better news is that you can view results for a very low cost per transaction.  If you are doing a lot of work you will probably want to invest in a subscription, but if you are only doing a little work then purchasing and using credits a few at a time will likely be better.  
I really like this model that gives the user the choice of how to purchase.  I also like the new records and the new search technology they are bringing to bear.  The combination of all of these factors mean to me that FindMyPast is rapidly becoming one of my favorite genealogical sites.  If you have British ancestors give the site and the new search a try.  You can find it at                                      FindMyPast.com