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Duration 60:00

Sex, lies and civil registration

When you have been researching family history for even a short time, you will realise that the information shown on certificates is not always completely accurate! Sometimes this is the result of an honest mistake, or misinterpretation of the question; sometimes people are being ‘economical with the truth’; and sometimes they just tell outright lies. Why? The answer is usually to do with money or sex, and sometimes both.


  1. […] There are many reasons why information might not agree on all the documents you have in your family tree and one of them is that people sometimes lie. Your ancestors might have bent the truth on a document for many reasons. Our female ancestors sometimes became mysteriously younger from one census to the next. Marriage documents might state that both the bride and groom were of the age of consent when in reality, one of them was underage. Your ancestor might have given the wrong birth date on a birth certificate to avoid paying a fine for late registration. For a great roundup of reasons why our ancestors might have been ‘economical with the truth’ on various documents, listen to the National Archives UK Podcast by Audrey Collins called ‘Sex, Lies and Civil Registration.’ […]

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