Investigating A Change Of Name

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I often use, but recently I had to go elsewhere to try to solve a mystery when a relative asked me to help find her ancestors. She had only her father's birth certificate: William James Beetles, born 1922 in Edinburgh. Using, I could trace a couple of generations beyond that, but couldn't find anything prior to an 1891 Census entry, or after 1895, for her ancestor John George Hitchcock (known as George Beetles) and his wife Georgina Lousia (nee Beetles).

The place of birth of their four children from the 1891 Census entry isn't matched by GROS birth records. The family used the surname Beetles before and after these Scottish records, with a perfect match in 1881. I cannot think of any reason for this, other than that he had a brush with the law. Peter Pryke via email

It could be worth seeing if his wife came into an inheritance that required that George take her name. You are almost certainly correct in your assumption that George was born as John George Hitchcock. There is a 1936 death register entry for a John George Beetles, 73, in Leith, married to Sarah Scott. His parents were John George Hitchcock and 'Gorgieannie' Hitchcock (nee Beetles) - the 1888 marriage register entry shows Sarah Scott marrying George Hitchcock, parents George Hitchcock and Georgina Louise Beetles.

There is also the 1896 death of Charles Beetles, aged 21, parents shown as George Beetles and Georgina Louisa Beetles (nee Beetles), the informant being his father, who signed the register as George Beetles. George's sons Joseph Arthur and George also turn up in the Scottish records. The death of John George Hitchcock alias Beetles is not to be found in Scotland. DWW

DEATH REGISTER: The 1936 entry for John George Beetles, the informant being his son-in-law, Harry C Lyall, who married Sarah Janes Beetles in 1919

1930S PEOPLE FINDER: Street directories should help find who lived in this Chester street - but their turnaround times mean they may be imprecise

Finding elusive occupants

How to discover who was living where, and when..

Is it possible for me to find out who were the occupants of an address in Chester, Cheshire in 1936? Gordon Deane via email

Directories, particularly street directories, are a very useful source. In most cities and towns they were published annually between the 1840s and the 1960s and should tell you who the householder was and possibly also his occupation.

Failing this, you should consult the electoral registers. However, you should bear in mind that the date of the register, usually 1 January, is normally about six months after the qualifying date for registration, which was typically 31 July


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□ When my parents got married in 1941, my mothers' occupation is shown as Assistant Examiner (AID). I think that this may have been a civilian post in the RAF. What did the job entail? Barbara Duffield via email

Contact the local record office where your mother lived, to ascertain what military establishments were close by. RAF records are held at The National Archives in Class AIR (see research guide, Military Records Information 50). All of the services employed civilians. The Imperial War Museum has a sound and film archive which may provide the information you are seeking - see the website at You may also find Air Force Records for Family History by William Spencer (The National Archives, 2000, ISBN: 1873162936) of help. DH


Three of my grandmother's siblings got married in the late 1800s so I went on which provided dates, volumes and page numbers. There were also two, sometimes three, names of husbands. I went onto 1837online. com thinking that only one entry would match the females, but all of the men had the same volume and page number. How do I find the right one? Madeline Polin via email

The General Register Office arranges entries in their records so that there are five entries on each page, so each has the same volume and page number. It could be five males, five females or a mixture. This is why you have so many possible spouses. The only way to get the correct certificate is to apply for each of them, but asking for it to be issued only if certain known criteria are met - ie that her fathers' name is Fred Bloggs, and the bride's approximate age. DH

of the previous year. Between these dates many electors died, sold their property or moved out. This happened quite frequently in 1936 as many people rented.

Begin by consulting Cheshire Record Office at Archives & Local Studies, Duke Street, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 1RL; at www. or on 01244 602 574, or the Cheshire County Council Family History site at familyhistory/home.htm. It is one of the best of its type, providing links to all the Cheshire family history sources. JO'N

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