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.
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
Also remember that the index is currently being transcribed by
the FreeBMD project and UKBMD.
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:
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.
After December 1911 the spouses surname (prior to marriage) appear
alongside that of the bride / groom.
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...