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Civil Registration Indexes - Births, Marriages and Deaths (BMDs)
Civil Registration began in England and Wales on July 1st, 1837, the same year in which Queen Victoria came to the throne and continues to the present day. The Civil Registration records are divided into three events, Births, Marriages and Deaths.
Prior to 1837 many of the Birth, Marriages and Deaths were recorded in the Parish Records. For further information please see the section Parish Records.
The records can be divided into two categories. First the Registers which contain precise and detailed information kept by the General Register Office (GRO). The Registers are not open to the public and therefore no access is provided of any kind, nor are they available on https://www.familyrelatives.com//. The Registers provide the information that is used for Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates.
The second category are the Indexes to the Registers also known as the GRO Indexes which enable the public to search for family relatives and provide the information which enables a certificate to be ordered. The Indexes like the Registers, are organised firstly by year, then by quarter, with the surnames in alphabetical order.
Over time the law has changed and therefore the recording of the Births, Marriages and Deaths has become more advanced and more detailed - these changes are reflected in the Indexes. The Indexes allow you to search for a family relative, and once found the Indexes give that vital information that will enable you to order a certificate or to confirm your own research. The Indexes list the year, quarter, district and depending on the event - and the period will give you the information regarding the Mother's Maiden Name (Births) or Spouse's Maiden Name (Marriages) or the Age at death (Deaths). In addition the Indexes give two other vital pieces of information - the Volume number and the Page number of the Register which will allow the ordering of a certificate.
What information is on the GRO Indexes?
Births - July Quarter 1837 to June Quarter 1911
Year, Quarter, Surname, Forename, District, Volume Number, Page /Reference Number
- please see the sample image below.
Births - September Quarter 1911 to present day
Year, Quarter, Surname, Forename, Mothers Maiden Name, District, Volume Number, Page /Reference Number
Marriages - September Quarter 1837 to December Quarter 1911
Year, Quarter, Surname, Forename, District, Volume Number, Page /Reference Number
Marriages - March Quarter 1912 to present day
Year, Quarter, Surname, Forename, Spouse's Surname, District, Volume Number, Page /Reference Number
Deaths - September Quarter 1837 to December Quarter 1865
Year, Quarter, Surname, Forename, District, Volume Number, Page Number
Deaths - March Quarter 1866 to March Quarter 1969
Year, Quarter, Surname, Forename, Age at Death, District, Volume Number, Page /Reference Number
Deaths - June Quarter 1969 to present day
Year, Quarter, Surname, Forename, Date of Birth, District, Volume Number, Page /Reference Number
Sample 1860 Birth Index Image - January Quarter
A Developing System
In order to operate the Civil Registration in England and Wales a Registrar General was appointed with overall responsibility. England and Wales was divided into administrative Districts with a central Register Office and operated by a superintendent registrar. Each District was then further divided into sub-districts with a registrar to record Births and Deaths.
Many of these Districts changed over time, with some disappearing altogether and new ones created as populations grew.
Familyrelatives.com provides the Civil Registration Indexes for England and Wales from 1837-2005 - these are the Births, Marriages and Deaths indexes which will allow you to locate the reference for the Certificate. We have made 400 million records available of which over 150 million are fully searchable on Surname, Mother's Maiden Name, District, Year and Quarter as well.
1837-1865 - Searchable on Surname range and Browseable with images of the GRO Index
1866-1920 - Fully Searchable on any criteria with images of the GRO Index
1921-1983 - Searchable on Surname range and Browseable with images of the GRO Index
1984-2005 - Fully Searchable on any criteria (no page images available)
Searching the GRO Indexes 1837 to 1865 and 1921 to 1983
For the period between 1837 to 1865 and 1921 to 1983 the images are not fully transcribed however they are indexed on surname and forename range only i.e. the first surname and forename and the last surname and forename on the images and the name you are searching may appear between the two.
The database will locate all those images and usually display one page per quarter per year where the surname may appear. Therefore when you select "view image" on the search results page all the names from the first surname to the last surname will appear in alphabetical order on the image.
Searching the GRO Indexes 1866 to 1920
Records between 1866 to 1920 have been fully transcribed and are fully name searchable. The system will display a search results page with 20 matching records at a cost of 2 units per page for example if there were 60 matching records these would equate to 3 pages or 6 units - if all 3 pages are viewed, applies to pay-per-view units only.
Marriage Match GRO indexes search facility
The Marriage match is a unique facility only available to Familyrelatives.com. Until now it has always been difficult to find the spouse of a family member unless you have the certificate. However Marriage Match allows you to match all those other persons who were married in the same District, on the same quarter, in the same year.
Traditionally there have only been 2 or 3 Marriage Certificates listed on one page at the General Register Office. Therefore Marriage Match finds all the entries that match the same criteria on the page at the GRO that you have just searched. Thereby giving you a much better opportunity of finding the spouse of the person for whom you are looking. In order to use Marriage Match all you need to do is search for the person for which you have the marriage details once you have located the correct person press the icon found next to the image . This will then allow you to view all those people who match the same criteria. The Marriage Match is available for 1866 to 1920 and 1984 to 2005 (although the spouses name is already available on the record).
Please note there is small charge for this service. The cost for using the Marriage match search facility is 1 unit for pay-per-view members.
Age at Death GRO Deaths includes an "about Birth date"
Familyrelatives.com have introduced a new search aid when searching the GRO Deaths Indexes from 1866 - 1920 and now includes an "about Birth date" for easier searching and matching.
Searching the GRO Indexes 1984 to 2005
Records between 1984 to 2005 are fully transcribed and are fully searchable. The system will find the exact query match. There are no images for this period, as records were entered directly onto a computer by the GRO.
Browsing the GRO images 1837 to 1865 and 1921 to 1983
As well as being able to search on the first and last surname of an image we have introduced a "Browse" image facility for the period 1837 to 1865 and 1921 to 1983.
The "Browse" image facility on the Search Page allows you to browse images by selecting the event Birth, Marriage or Death on the Search page.
Select the year from the pull down menu then select the quarter, next select the letter of the Surname you wish to view.
A table will open with the Surname range of the letter selected. The surname range is the first transcribed surname and the last transcribed surname on the image. The name you are looking for may appear between the two names and click "view" for the image.
For example if we are looking for John Murray's Birth in 1921 Jul/Aug/Sept the 3rd quarter. Select the Birth's on the Search page, then the year 1921 and the 3rd quarter.
Select M on the alphabet menu bar and there are 6 result pages with the letter M. Murray will be on the last page, go to page 6 and John Murray will be found between James Murray and George Musgrave click on view image to verify this information and locate John Murray's name.
Ordering Civil Registration Certificates
Once you have found the record you are searching note down the details and order the certificate from the General Register Office.
How to order a certicate More info
What information is on a Certificate
What information is on a birth, marriage or death certificate?
Certificates are a valuable and useful source of information for tracing your family history as they usually provide details like an address, occupation or cause of death. Including the full name of the individuals you will also find the following information on certificates;
A birth certificate includes the date and place of birth, the name and address of the mother and sometimes the mother's maiden name. The name and occupation of the father is also shown on the certificate.
A marriage certificate includes the full names of the bride and groom. It will also usually include their occupations, address and the date and place of the marriage and in addition the names and occupations of the fathers of both bride and groom
A death certificate includes the date of death, age, occupation, final address and cause of death, as well as the name and relationship of the person who informed the authorities.
The records are free to search but to view the original images and results requires you to have a Subscription.