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If you only know the name of one party then you can still apply for a likely certificate by completing only the husband or wife section on the form. The entry in the index should match exactly for both parties. There are up to four marriages on a page. So finding a matching reference in an online version of the index will not always mean that those two parties married each other. If a 0 appears as the age then this implies an infant dying under the age of 1 year.

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From the June quarter of , the date of birth of the deceased is included in the death indexes instead of an age. It is possible to view the national indexes to civil registration in England and Wales online or on microfiche. These are:. There are some independent attempts to make the indexes more accessible. The database is not yet complete but the work is growing all the time. This site has images of the original indexes as well. Various sites offer different ways of searching the images of the indexes and each should be examined to discover their particular search functionalities.

All these sites will give the references needed to obtain a certificate. Prices to view the indexes vary. Some sites make using the digital images of the indexes easier than others. In addition to the internet, certificates can also be ordered by post and by telephone. From 1 January postal applications will only be accepted on the new style application forms which will be available directly from the GRO, Local Register Offices and major city libraries throughout England and Wales which hold copies of the indexes on microfiche.

The new style forms must be completed in full and returned by post to the GRO together with the correct payment either by cheque, postal order or credit card. Please call There are copies of the indexes on microfilm at the Society of Genealogists in London. Images of the Scottish GRO certificates births , marriages and deaths can also be found on the Internet along with indexes up to via the pay-per-view website www. The General Register Office for Northern Ireland is within the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency and administers marriage law and the registration of births, deaths, marriages, civil partnerships and adoption in Northern Ireland.

Tel: if calling from outside Northern Ireland. See www. Online searches of the indexes and images of birth records in Northern Ireland over years old, marriage records over 75 years old and deaths records over 50 years old can be made at GRONI online: geni. Certificates for the remainder of Ireland from and Protestant marriages from can be obtained in person from the search room of the General Register Office located at Werburgh Street, Dublin 2, D08 E Indexes for some civil birth, marriages and deaths registered in Ireland up to can be found on www.

Tel: Indexes for some civil birth, marriages and deaths registered in Ireland up to can be found on: www. If a reference cannot be found in the national indexes compiled for the Registrar General, it may be worth seeing if the information can be found in the relevant local register office. Occasionally bureaucratic errors occur in the reporting of the registered information from the local to the national level. Some local records can be accessed online via www.

One of the advantages of this particular system is that grooms and brides are matched and the name of the church is given.

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It is also noted if it was a civil or nonconformist marriage. If the local office has no web presence, addresses of local register offices can be found via www. Many times people have commented - "he's not there, I can't find him" Whilst this may be true in some cases, you will often find that from , in the case of births, he or she will have been registered.

There are various reasons why someone is not recorded in the place we think they should have been.


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In many cases, this has to do with our own assumptions rather than deficiencies in the registration system and its indexes. Very often we do not look in enough volumes of the indexes to locate our ancestors. The accuracy of the information you have will determine the span of years which must be searched. Ages in documents like the census or on death certificates can be inaccurate; ages "known" by relatives are often several years out. Some marriages did not take place until after the birth of the first child and in some cases even later. Couples may not have married at all, particularly if, for example the husband left his first wife and did not obtain a divorce.

Unless he committed bigamy, then he was not free to marry. Be prepared to make extended searches for a marriage up to 25 years before the birth of the first known child or at least as far back as the parents would have been legally able to marry. The absolute minimum period for a search for a birth is 5 years either side of the calculated date.

Occasionally it might be necessary to widen the search even further perhaps to 15 or 20 years beyond the assumed date. Families were large in the 19th and early 20th centuries and it was not unusual for children to be born over a span of 25 years.


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Contrary to what you may think or how proud you are of your surname, variations will exist, as in most cases registrars and incumbents wrote down what they heard rather than paying any consideration to a standardised spelling system. Many people could not read so they were unable to correct a spelling as we do today. The indexes are in a very clinical STRICT alphabetical order, hence the name of Newbury and Newberry, Collins and Collings both sounding the same will not be in the same place in the index.

Certain capital letters can also be misinterpreted. Think about the different variants of the name that could possibly exist before setting out and write them down on your research sheet. That way you can look at all the most sensible alternatives in the indexes.

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Prior to , the registration of a birth was not compulsory and as such in the first 40 years from the inception of the system in , registration may not have occurred. The onus for registration of births and deaths was on the individual and still is, although non-registration today is a breach of the law. If you have been unable to find someone pre , don't assume non-registration until you have considered all possibilities listed here. Even after , some problems still existed.

Poor families, who had a high mortality amongst their children, may have named their next child after an earlier child who had recently died. Parents might have failed to register the second child but used an existing birth certificate relating to the first child of that name. This had advantages and disadvantages in later life and also plays havoc with the methods of research. It was a very real situation and should be thought about if you cannot find a second certified entry.

If you cannot find a name in a registration index and you know where the event probably took place, it is worth contacting the local register office and requesting a certificate. Some children were registered before they were named. This may give a clue to the religious affiliation of a family.

Tradition in some religions meant that children weren't named until baptism. On the birth certificate, column 10 allows additional entries to be made later. As far as the indexes and indeed the certificate are concerned, the child was registered as "male" or "female" followed only by the surname. Such entries are shown at the end of the alphabetical listing and should always be looked at. Throughout their lives, people were very often known to their family and friends by different names from those which they had been given at registration or baptism. People also changed their names both formally and informally during their life either by an official deed poll or, feeling the need to become anonymous, by using an alias.

Hence a name used on marriage or death certificates may not be the same as the one appearing on a birth certificate or in a baptism register. Always look for the use of nicknames, aliases and the like when searching for an event.

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People were also only known by one of their names and will be recorded in records of later events by just that name. For example, someone registered as Thomas William at birth may be married just as William or Thomas and both forenames should be considered when using the indexes. In some cases, without additional research or knowledge of the name the person might have used, it is almost impossible to locate some individuals. A very common occurrence relates to the supposed name of the bride on a marriage certificate.

Unbeknownst to you, the bride might have been married previously. So when looking for what is in fact her second or subsequent marriage, remember she will be listed in the indexes usually under the surname she took upon her previous marriage and not by her maiden name. This could affect your search. If a mother remarried while a child was young, then he or she may have taken the surname of the second husband, either informally or by formal adoption.

That child may then have used that surname all through later life rather than the one registered on his or her birth certificate.

Guide Two: Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates

For some unknown reason, family historians develop very staid attitudes as to where events took place without giving consideration to mobility. Even living family members may not be aware of the fact someone was born or died abroad. They may insist that an event occurred in a specific place, although it could turn out to be in another town twenty miles away, the reasons being failing memory or just not knowing the facts. Many people did travel, often extensively, if not abroad then to places like Scotland, Ireland, the Isle of Man or any of the Channel Islands.

Each of these has its own registration system but is still part of the British Isles. Many people who spent time in this country were not born here. Many immigrants came from European countries and many British subjects were born in places like India and other Commonwealth countries. The census will help establish place of birth and should be consulted first unless of course events are too early or late to show up on the returns.

Be prepared, therefore, to look in the miscellaneous indexes in the public search room as a matter of course and then to search registration in other countries. Our wide ranging programme of talks, courses, walks and visits is open to anyone interested in family history.

Cookie Compliance We use cookies to give you the best possible online experience. Learn Benefits of membership. Birth Certificates These are considered to be prime evidence of someone's existence. Marriage certificates In , the format of the marriage register changed and significantly more information is recorded. Death Certificates These carry the least information from a genealogical point of view but they are nevertheless important sources particularly with regard to genetic diseases and for the location of wills and other probate documents.