NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.



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Finding Birth Parents of Adopted Baby

Our members are stumped with this one so I forwarded the query to Heather Bray, whose reply is below.  (Thank you Heather) 


Betty's grandfather was adopted as a baby, and she is trying to find who his birth parents were.  He was born on 31 August 1878 (date found in his wife's Birthday Book) and it was stated on marriage and/or death certificate that he was born in Dunedin.  Betty has searched the Births Index using his adoptive name from the year he was born (1878) until the year of his marriage (1908) and was unsuccessful.  She searched the year of birth (1878) and found three unnamed baby boys born in Dunedin in that quarter.  How can she find his birth registration entry and be certain it is the correct baby?  Are there any other records that may identify her grandfather's birth parents?


Heather’s reply

There is no easy answer to this because adoptions were not administered by the courts until 1922 so early adoptions in the 1870s were often through family members by "a money paid for child" situation. Usually you can guess that if he was an only child he was "bought" as an illegitimate child and raised by a childless couple. However if he was part of a large group of siblings then he was probably a nephew, grandson, cousin etc of the couple who raised him.

Are there any clues in his christian names to a possible father?   

Now you say there was three unnamed boys born in Dunedin in that quarter - I am assuming you mean the third quarter [July, Aug, Sept of 1878]. However you had six weeks to register the birth so six weeks from the 31st August would take him into the fourth quarter [Oct, Nov, Dec] so you should also be looking in that quarter as well. Also why just Dunedin. Often adopted children were born outside of where their adopted parents lived. Look at Minnie Dean - she picked up children all over Southland and found homes for them elsewhere.

Am I understanding you can't find a certificate under his adopted surname - so his adopted parents did not register him, so you are hoping his birth mother may have. Then it is near impossible to find. Without clues as to who his mother was you could purchase every birth certificate for un-named boys for that year and still not find him as his mother may have actually named him.

One thing you could do is go through 1878 looking for any child with that combination of christian names as sometimes adopted parents, especially if they were family connected, retained the same christian names as the mother had given.

Also you should look at least five years on from 1878 for the registration because children were not always adopted as babies and a late birth registration may have been done. Lawyers did arrange this prior to 1922 and a fee was paid for a late registration.

(Nove 2004)



NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.



How Do I Purchase a Certificate from England and Wales? 

There are several ways to do this. 

First of all you will need to obtain the reference number for the particular entry. 

If you are an NZSG member you can use the GRO Indexes Lookup Service

Information on this service can be found in our branch library and at where you can also download the request form.  Give the full name of whom you are searching for, the year, quarter and registration district, if known, and post completed form, stamped SAE (DLE sized) along with a cheque for $5 made out to New Zealand Society of Genealogists Inc to Mrs Betty Webster, GRO Index Search, PO Box 2280, Stortford Lodge, Hasting.  A credit slip will be sent for any unused funds.  NZSG offers a Certificate Purchasing Service which is available for members of the Society.   The current price for a certificate through the Society is $25.50 (with reference number) and $27 without.  You can download the required form from their website at  


Visit a Family History Centre Library (our nearest is Fenton Crescent, St Kilda, Dunedin) and search the microfiche called the St Catherine’s Index.  The FHC Library (formerly known as LDS) offer a certificate ordering service.


Search Online.

For Free – try   Keep in mind though that the whole index has not been transcribed yet.  You cannot order certificates through this site. 

If not found there, go to   This has the entire index but is a ‘pay to view’ site.  You can also order your certificates through this site.  For this you will need to use a credit card.


Another avenue for getting your certificates is through Tony Fitzgerald, P.O. Box 204, Rangiora.  You can either post your query to him with payment & SAE or fill out the form on his web site  Current price (Nov 2004) with reference is $26.  If you find the person you want a certificate for on the index but cannot read the reference numbers, ask for a reference search.  This is a faster service than NZSG as certificates are ordered weekly.  You can also pay by cheque or money order.  

(Nov 2004)   

POSTSCRIPT:  1837online is now 


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.


Is it Safe to Use your Credit Card on a Web Site?

All those who have done so replied, Yes – providing there is a padlock showing stating that this is a secure site which usually opens up in a separate window.  This indicates that what you enter is ‘encrypted’ making it difficult (let’s hope impossible) to identify the keystrokes you enter your information in with.  If there is no padlock or you are uncertain – DON’T.  Another suggestion was to ensure that you only ever keep a small credit available thereby giving you added comfort that if any credit card details fall into the wrong hands you won’t loose the shirt off your back!

(Nov 2004)



NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.