Thursday, 15 May 2014

Campaign to abolish sexism in English and Welsh marriage certificates

I've received this from the campaign being run by Ailsa Burkimsher Sadler, and thought it worth carrying on this blog. In England and Wales, mothers' names and occupations are still not carried on marriage certificates - yet mothers' names have been carried on Scottish certificates since 1855. Here's the message from Ailsa, providing an update on her campaign:

Thank you so much for adding your support to my campaign to get mothers' names and occupations on marriage certificates in England & Wales. We have built up huge momentum, stacks of media coverage and the Home Office has even been forced to respond and put certificates under review!

Read on for all the details...

News round-up:

You may have seen some of the recent media coverage or some of the discussions about this on Twitter.

To find out why I think this campaign is important have a look at my interview in The Telegraph or listen to me on Radio Solent (from 1 hour 7 minutes in).

Other newspaper coverage can be found here, here and here and I'm delighted that Telegraph Wonder Woman is backing me and has even coined a twitter hashtag #MothersOnMarriageCerts!

Find out why Caroline Criado-Perez (of women on banknote fame) is refusing to get married until we have equality on marriage certificates and hear her and family historian & records specialist Audrey Collins talking about this on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour. Look out for Caroline on The BBC Daily Politics show next Wednesday.

Taking direct action:

I am going to add information about my mother and mother-in-law to my original marriage certificate so that I can pass it on to my son for future generations to look at. I will be forking out £9.25 for a duplicate copy as I will invalidate the original by this correction! I will also be applying officially to the General Register Office to point out the "mistake" in my certificate.

Having your mother and mother-in-law as a witness (which is something the Deputy Registrar General was very keen to point out as an option) is a poor substitute from them being properly recorded but it is something to think about if you are going to be getting married before this campaign is won.

Next steps:

This week the Home Office told The Times that marriage certificates are under review. They said “replacing all certificates is logistically complex and costly but we are investigating how this change might be achieved.”

I am therefore now focussing the petition to the Home Secretary Theresa May since it has been confirmed this matter falls under her remit.

Despite repeated attempts I've not been able to find out whether Sajid Javid (the new Equalities minister) or the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby agree with my campaign. I will update you all if either of them decide to publicly back this campaign.

How you can help:

I am delighted to have the public support of the MPs Dr Sarah Wollaston and Caroline Lucas. I would love for you to email your MP (it is really easy using the website) to tell them that you are supporting this campaign and to ask them to support it and raise this matter with the Home Office.

Join the conversation on Twitter, using the hashtag #MothersOnMarriageCerts. You can find me @nameequality - if you are not on Twitter and don't know how then you can "learn twitter in ten minutes" with this book.

And please keep sharing the petition using the link

Thank you all and a big thank to the team at for making it possible to mobilise in this way.


COMMENT: What's to lose by agreeing to this? Scotland saw the wisdom in it over a century and a half ago!

(With thanks to Ailsa)


Now available for UK research is the new second edition of the best selling Tracing Your Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians, whilst my new book British and Irish Newspapers is also now out. And FindmyPast - please reinstate the original Scottish census citations on your new site.

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