My great great grandfather has two very different birth certificates

October 28, 2006

Forty seven Fitch births were registered in England in 1844, 13 of them were in the Oct-Nov-Dec quarter and two of those were in Hertfordshire. Both of them were in Ware and both were for a child named John. In fact, both births were on the same day (October 11) and in the same town (Hoddesdon) however the first child is registered as the son of John and Ann Fitch while the second is the illegitimate son of Mary Fitch.

John Fitch's first birth certificate from 1844 John Fitch's second birth certificate from 1844

This is a little too coincidental for me, especially when the 1851 and 1861 census returns for Hoddesdon have John junior listed as the nephew of John senior. It looks likely that Mary’s brother raised her illegitimate son but to be sure I need to find John senior’s family to see if he had a sister called Mary and to trace her life to ensure she didn’t die or marry before John junior was born 1844.

John senior’s census returns all point to him being born around 1820 in Shoreditch in London and the IGI only lists one John Fitch baptised in Shoreditch around that time. On December 28, 1818 John, the son of John and Sarah Fitch was baptised in the parish of St Leonards after being born on December 11.

The IGI lists only one Mary born to John and Sarah Fitch in London and it is in the same St Leonards parish. On July 30, 1827 Mary Ann Fitch was baptised after being born on July 17.

The problem with the surname Fitch is that it is often interchanged with Finch and in searching the St Leonards parish register on IGI I found the following children born to John and Sarah Fitch or Finch:

  • Sarah Maria Finch (1815)
  • John Fitch (1818) <– likely uncle
  • Elizabeth Finch (1821)
  • Joseph Finch (1824)
  • Mary Ann Fitch (1827) <– likely mother
  • Susannah Fitch (1829)

Parents called John and Sarah are hardly uncommon so I need to be careful that I’m not looking at two separate families, one Fitch and one Finch, and overlapping birth years for their children would be a giveaway. However, you can see here that they are sufficiently spaced for this to possibly be one family.

The fly in the ointment came when I found only one marriage between a John Fitch or Finch and Sarah in Shoreditch and it is in 1820, two years after John Fitch was born.

It looks like I need to set aside some time at the London Metropolitan Archives to do some digging.

[UPDATE 5 Oct 2007]

I’ve started a separate genealogy blog:


3 Responses to “My great great grandfather has two very different birth certificates”

  1. ludwig Says:

    There is NOONE ever in the UK with my surname. Which isn’t surprising cause my surname is really weird. This is something I’ve always wanted to get into but from the looks of things it is a lot of work.

    Have a look at this link, thought it might be of interest to you.

  2. Adrian Fitch Says:

    Thanks Ludwig, their Family Tree Builder utility looks very interesting. I’ve been tracing my family off and on for years and it doesn’t have to be too much work. Stick to your family name and methodically work back through each generation.

  3. Ivy Trott Says:

    If the name Fitch lured you onto this site, as it did me, maybe you are of my line… Thomas Fitch was born about 1740 and married Mary Blackwell in 1762 in Colchester, Essex. His son, Thomas was born in 1770, the third child of eight – Rebeckah, Samuel, Thomas, Elizabeth and James, Susan, Mary and John. He married Mary Harrold in 1794, two known children, Sarah and Thomas. This Thomas was born in Colchester, but moved to London and from then on we have plenty of info. His wife was Mary Hunniball, they married in Colchester in 1820. Would be happy to hear of anyone searching the same lines. Thank you. Ivy Trott in South Africa.

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