A history of births, marriages and deaths

WISHING everyone a happy, peaceful and healthy New Year, the President of Morpeth Inner Wheel Club, Mrs Anne Parsons, welcomed members to the first meeting of 2011 held in The Queen’s Head Hotel.

After the meal she introduced the speaker Mrs Lorraine Dewison, whose subject was Registration.

From being a registrar to superintendent registrar, she is head of Customer Services in Northumberland, as it is now termed.

Registration is the oldest service in local government. Originally the sole responsibility of the parish priest to record births, marriages and deaths, this inevitably left gaps in the three registers.

In 1837, civil registration became law. Registrars had a given area, that being measured by the distance he could travel comfortably in a day on horseback. Workhouses were sometimes used as a venue.

Marriages could be lawfully held between the hours of 8am and 6pm and there must be two witnesses. Weddings took place in a church or a registry office, but since 1994 many venues such as hotels, castles and football stadia have been licensed to hold weddings.

Mrs Dewison said 1,000 weddings were held in Northumberland each year. These different and varied venues had brought many attendant businesses and had boosted the economy.

Most interestingly, Mrs Dewison had brought with her several registers from the mid-19th Century.

Members were fascinated reading them. Particularly sobering was the register of deaths, only rarely was an age of 70 or 80 years recorded. Many children died in their early years of illnesses, now completely curable.

After this most informative talk, Mrs Dewison was appreciatively thanked by Mrs Vivien Scott.

President Anne reminded members of International Inner Wheel Day, which was marked by a soup lunch at her home.

Toiletries were collected for the Women’s Refuge.