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By Michael Hansell / Stephen Miller

 

HOME > ARTICLES > Family History Basics (Part 2)

 

Births Marriages and Deaths

Once you have gathered together a list of all the known people in the family group that you have decided to study, you are now probably asking yourself what is the next step. Working on the theory that it is best to work from the known to the unknown and it is desirable at this point to verify all of the information that you have gathered and fill in any blanks that may have arisen. The best way of doing this is to consult the Births, Marriage and Death Certificates.

A birth certificate will where possible contain the names of both parents, including the mother's maiden surname. Knowing both parents' full names, you can search the indexes for a reference to their marriage. A marriage certificate usually records the names of the fathers of both parties. For the last 150 years in England and Wales these records have been kept centrally to provide one point of reference.

The civil registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths began in England and Wales began on the 1st July 1837 (In Scotland 1855, Ireland non Catholic 1845 and the rest by 1865). You will probably hear them being referred to variously as Births Marriages and Deaths, St Catherine's Index, Somerset House records, GRO's (Government Record Office) and BMD's, the repository for the registers has moved address several times since 1837 hence the different names and they are now currently held at the Family Records Centre, 1 Myddelton Street, London EC1R 1UW, (about 20 minutes walk from Kings Cross Railway Station or a short Taxi Ride.), for further information use the below Internet address.

http://www.familyrecords.gov.uk/frc/visits/howtogetto.htm

The only way to obtain information regarding Births, Marriages & Deaths (BMD's) from the Registry office is by purchasing a Certificate the cost of these certificates can be greatly reduced if you search the BMD index registers yourself and obtain the GRO reference relevant to the event you are searching for. The Index can be consulted free of charge and it gives the references needed by GRO to request a copy certificate of any birth, marriage or death that has been registered. This reference is not needed by local register offices. (Fortunately you do not have go to London to consult these index registers, micro fiche copies are available at some of the main Libraries such as the Leeds Central Library, Scarborough Reference Library, Northallerton Reference Library, York Reference Library.)

Also remember that the index is currently being transcribed by the FreeBMD project and UKBMD.

http://freebmd.rootsweb.com/
htp://www.ukbmd.org.uk
UK bmd has the added advantage of listing the actual church names for marriage entries.

Up to 1983 Births, Marriages and Deaths are in separate alphabetical indexes, each covering the proceeding three month period for March, June, September and December. It is important to remember that is the period in which the event was registered not took place. Births must be registered within the period 42 days after the birth.

Up until December 1865 the indexers are handwritten and typewritten thereafter. Although earlier volumes are gradually being replaced by typed copies.

The index is prepared from information forwarded from local Register Offices and to this end errors and omissions do occur. The Registrar may also have recorded the details as they believed they sounded or were spelt.

The index are recorded in Surname, Forename order and dependant on the event and time period will include additional information. All include the registration district and reference number.

A Birth reference for the 2nd quarter of 1877 would appear as follows:
Smith, John Guisborough 9d 523.

The number is divided into 2 parts - District number and reference number. The first part refers to the registration district the second the actual reference or page number on which the entry is recorded. Prior to 1900 4 marriages were entered per page, post 1900 2 entries appear. Birth and Deaths can have up to 8 entries per page.

Variations in the index appear as follows:

Births
At the commencement of registration in 1837 not all births were registered, in particular illegitimate births. From 1875 registration was compulsory. From September quarter 1911 mothers maiden names are also listed.

Marriages
After December 1911 the spouses surname (prior to marriage) appear alongside that of the bride / groom.

Deaths
From 1866 onwards age at death is also listed. From Jun 1969 dates of birth are given.

From 1984 the registration entries are listed monthly.

Start searching the indexes from the information you have obtained so far. Once a reference has been found the relevant certificate can be obtained. When searching for marriages start working backwards from the birth date of their earliest known child. If you have problems locating a marriage within say a 10 year period try working forward. It is quite common for marriages to occur after the birth date.

To be continued...

 


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