Births, Marriages and Deaths



Birth/Marriage/Death Records_MPUThe recording of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales started in 1837 and the civil registration indexes are now available online.

FREE searches for the years 1837 – 1915. These are indexes transcribed by the charitable organisation FreeBMD:

England and Wales Birth Index 1837-1915
England and Wales Marriage Index 1837-1915
England and Wales Death Index 1837-1915

To search from 1916 will mean subscribing to ancestry.co.uk for small fee:

England and Wales Birth Index 1916-2005
England and Wales Marriage Index 1916-2005
England and Wales Death Index 1916-2005

Having found the entry you’re looking for in the indexes, you will then be able to order a copy of the birth certificate, marriage certificate or death certificate in an almost seamless process. The certificates provide much more information than the index entries and are essential to successful genealogical research.

The Birth and Registration Act of 1836 resulted in the establishment of registration districts in England and Wales and the recording of births, marriages and deaths in each district by local registrars. The registrars wrote the information in their registration books and issued the birth and death certificates. When full, the registration books would be sent to the superintendent registrar who compiled the indexes for the district. The superintendent registrar copied the indexes and sent them every quarter to the Registrar General at the General Registry Office. Here all the indexes from all the registration districts in England and Wales were indexed again to produce the national index.

Prior to this all BMD events were recorded by the individual parish incumbents – please see Parish Records.

Anyone who has visited St Catherine’s House or the Records Office at Kew in London will be familiar with the births, marriages and death indexes. For those of you haven’t been there, the indexes were large (and heavy!) hand written bound volumes in which the events are recorded. The indexes are arranged quarterly for each year and the listings are in alphabetical order by name.

Below is the information you will find on birth, marriage and death certificates:

Birth Certificate

No.
When and where born
Name, if any
Sex
Name and surname of father
Name, surname and maiden surname of mother
Occupation of father
Signature, description and residence of informant
When registered
Signature of registrar
Name entered after registration

Plus Registration District and Sub-district


Marriage Certificate

No.
When married
Name and Surname (both parties)
Age (both parties)
Condition (eg bachelor, spinster – both parties)
Rank or Profession (both parties)
Residence at the time of Marriage (both parties)
Father’s Name and Surname (father of the bride and father of the groom)
Rank or Profession of Father (father of the bride and father of the groom)

Plus where married (church and parish) and two witness signatures.


Death Certificate

No.
When and where died
Name and surname
Sex
Age
Occupation
Cause of death
Signature, description and residence of informant
When registered
Signature of registrar

Plus Registration District and Sub-district.

Information to be found on birth, marriage and death index entries:


Birth Indexes

Full name of child
Maiden name of mother
Month and year of registration
Registration district – counties in England and Wales were divided up into registration districts.
County – location of the registration district
Volume number
Page number


Marriage Indexes

Year
Record type (Marriage)
Quarter (March, June, September, and December)
District – counties in England and Wales were divided up into registration districts.
Volume
Page number


Death Indexes

Year
Record type (Death)
Quarter (March, June, September, and December)
District – counties in England and Wales were divided up into registration districts.
Volume
Page number

Accessing the Births Marriages and Deaths indexes is essential to the family historian. Together with Census Records and Parish Records, BMD’s indexes and certificates will be the cornerstone of your research.

Births, marriages or deaths in England and Wales

General Register Office – England and Wales

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