Suggestion: Get an error, or research suggestion when child born before marriage of parents
edited February 17, 2021 in Suggest an Idea
Jordi Kloosterboer said: When a child is born/christened before parents are married, I think there should be an error message or research suggestion (that you can dismiss). I think this used to be the case? The message would go away if you add that the child was adopted or a stepchild etc or if you manually dismiss it with an explanation (like I have people on my family tree who have a child together before they are married together). what do other people think? I know other genealogy sites do this.
Paul said: Yes, I do see the merit in this, Jordi. I have regularly come across the situation whereby another user has added every child to, say, the couple shown immediately above them in a census record. It would have been helpful if the child's birth (say in c1822, when the marriage took place in 1825) had produced a message, as you suggest. It would have helped highlight the situation more quickly and clearly for me.
In these cases I have encountered, there have been two main reasons for the "birth before marriage" situation:
(1) The child was illegitimate - born to the mother and baptised or registered under her maiden name, but shown with the step-father's surname in the record, OR
(2) The child was biologically that of the father, but by his deceased, first wife.
It has often taken me a while to pick-up on the fact the birth pre-dated the marriage, which has led me wasting time in searching for a birth for which I could never have found a record - at least, not in the name of the apparent father (or to the couple to whom the child has been connected - as biological).
I find some of the research suggestions / data warnings I am given by FamilySearch to be really annoying, but believe one of this type really would to be of use in highlighting:
(a) a "relationship issue" that needs to be corrected (e.g. "biological" to "step"), and/or
(b) in finding the actual parents of the child.0
Juli said: Research suggestion, maybe, but definitely not a data error. My grandmother and her older brother were born years before their parents married. They were retroactively legitimized, and there's no question about their parentage, so a "data error" flag would be impossible to get rid of and would be totally and completely false.0
Tom Huber said: In addition, in those jurisdictions where a significant "dowry" payment must be made, it is not unusual for a family to have a number of children and once the payment has been raised, for the couple to be married. This is common when you see the baptism/christening of a number of children at the same time for the same parents.0
Paul said: Of course, there are going to be quite straightforward reasons for children being born before there biological parents married. However, my experience is that probably every example I have encountered has involved illegitimacy, or the child / children having just one of the couple as their biological parent.
Okay, it has probably been down to a lack of attention on my part, but I would have found a research suggestion - such as is being proposed - to have been of great use.0
Tom Huber said: My wife's ancestral line goes through a part of England and the records show that the families had children who were marked illegitimate, and then once they had the dowry, the marriage was solemnized and the children baptized. This happened in quite a few families. They were poor and could not afford the dowry.
What surprised me is that a dowry of £50 was required in some jurisdictions in America, after the revolution. I didn't see any evidence of the same kind of activities that occurred in my wife's line in England, but the amount. for the 18th century, was significant. It certainly would have been for me, had I lived during that time.0