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Determining age of an ancestor

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By labananilla - Posted on 19 June 2020

Hello everybody! I have a question regarding which documents are more important to determine the age of an ancestor.

My second great-grandmother, Ramona Pulido González, was baptised on may 13th 1887. In her marriage record, in 1901, they say she is 15 years old, when she was, according to the baptism record, just days from turning 14. This could've been an honest, slight mistake.

However, things get trickier. When my great grandfather was born in 1906, the civil record says she was 26 years old, when she was really 19, and her death record states that she died at 65 in 1950.

My (perhaps novelistic) guess is that since her husband was considerably older (he was 44 at the time of the wedding), they were stretching the numbers (specially the civil registration) so that she wouldn't appear underage with the law (although this was fairly common in these towns and this years). I think I should trust most the baptism record, because it wouldn't make sense trying to explain a seven year old being baptised and passing for a newborn (since the baptism record clearly says "born yesterday"). But I was wondering if I might be overlooking something, or if the other records would be better to determine age.

Also, I don't think there is a chance that I am confusing people; her name matches, as well as the town she was born in (which is very very small and wouldn't leave chance to so many coincidences), her husband's name and parents as well as her own parents, and my great grandafthers birthday as told by my mom, who knew him.

Thanks in advance!! :)

Hi there,

Go with the baptism records which are accurate with the dates. Back then the were not concerned about their birth dates and most of the time would forget the year they were born in. A lot of my records after the baptismal are not correct with the age.

Thank you,
Esther

As Esther said, people weren’t as concerned about their ages in those days. Some times, it was the notary or the priest who would eye-ball the person and guess their age. And when people did give their age, they’d say “ser de edad de 30 años, poco mas o menos.” (“age 30, more or less”). In my experience, seldom do ages given on marriage or burial records correspond with the true age a person. Go with the baptism record - especially if they give the age of the child (sometimes it could be a month or 2 before a child was baptized, because of distances in rural areas).

Manny Diez Hermosillo

Even baptismal records don’t always give the actual age. Sometimes the baptism was put off for a year or two.

This is all great to know. Several times I've scratched my head trying to make connections, dealing with discrepancies in age.

What I meant by even the baptism record may be off of the birth date is because some people took their time to baptize their kids. I have seen records where the child was already a toddler when he was baptized.

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