The civil registration of marriages after 1837 provides the genealogist and family history researcher with a most useful resource in getting further back in their family tree.

A census return may provide the names of the parents of a child, but the mother's maiden name can be conclusively proven from obtaining a copy of the relevant certificate or other record of marriage (e.g. parish register).

The example below is from a marriage dating to 1891.  The certificate provides lots of information:

 
As with all detective work, be it police work, archaeology or genealogy, you start from the known and work back into the unknown.  Obtaining a birth certificate of a child can provide valuable confirmation of the parents of the child, in particular (if this is not known) the maiden name of the mother.  Working with this information, you can then hopefully find a marriage, and on that certicate, the fathers' names of the bride and bridegroom, plus their occupations.

The example below is a birth certificate for Thomas Steele, born 20th August 1855 in Hayton, Cumberland. The certificate shows his date of birth, his given name, sex, name of his father (Thomas Steele), name of his mother and her maiden name (Mary Steele formerly Finnian), the occupation of the father (Coal Miner), the signature,description and residence of the informant (in this case the father,Joseph Steele of Hayton), the registration date (12th September 1855) and the signature of the registrar (Daniel Pape).