Stepfathers – and how they can affect your research.
I have discovered that where there is a blended family or an illegitimate child within a family; the fact that the individual I am researching has a stepfather can influence the recording of their surname in later documents.
I recently ordered a birth certificate for a child and found that the mother’s maiden name was recorded as “Sarah Hemmings” – I knew that her correct maiden surname was “Sarah Pye”. Sarah’s stepfather was Thomas Hemmings.
Sarah was only 3 years of age when her natural father died and 7 years of age when her mother married Thomas Hemmings. Sarah probably preferred the name of Hemmings rather than Pye.
Sarah was not the only one from my extended family tree to use her stepfather’s surname on her children’s birth certificates. Emily Patience Pye (born Jones) (mentioned in a previous blog) used her stepfather’s surname of Cooper and Ellen Pye (born Lowe) used her stepfather’s surname of Mort.
I can imagine that if you are a direct descendant of these women and attempting to follow back through your ancestors how these incorrect details on birth certificates could lead to stumbling blocks and confusion in your research.
It is something that is well worth keeping in mind if you find that you are not able to trace a female ancestor’s parents.