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Genealogy Help

Self-help - Births, Marriages & Deaths

Making genealogy accessible

Births, marriages and deaths were recorded by the state (England & Wales) from the 1st July 1837, though early records may have been omitted as the system seemed to have some teething problems. Certificates are available for nearly all the listed entries - the registers of which are available at the National Records at Kew, and online via various providers. Some information is also available on the FreeBMD service - please visit our useful links.

The birth, marriage and death indexes are exactly that, indexes to more information, many now available online. They serve as a finding aid to enable the ordering of birth, marriage and death certificates but they do not contain all the information that can be found on a full certificate. They are also ordered by quarter year, so we cannot pinpoint a birth, marriage or death by the register alone. Indexes are useful in constructing a skeletal tree but they do not provide the full information which enables verification that the correct details have been found.

Birth Certificates

A full English birth certificate records the date and place of birth of the child, the name and occupation of the father, and the first name and maiden name of the mother. The name and address of the person who registered the birth, usually a parent, is also given. From this information, it is possible to seek the marriage certificate of the child's parents.

For more information about birth certificates, please click here.

Marriage Certificates

A marriage certificate records the date and place of the ceremony, the names, ages, occupations and residence of the bride and groom, and the names and occupations of their fathers. At least two witnesses are recorded on each marriage certificate and these often prove to be relatives.

For more information about marriage certificates, please click here.

Death Certificates

Death certificates give the date and place of death, describe the age, occupation and in some cases marital status of the deceased and record the cause of death. If the death occurred in unusual or violent circumstances, or if an autopsy was performed, this information can often lead to a newspaper report of the event. If someone appears on the 1841 census or dies in 1841 at aged, say 70, you have your family tree traced back to about 1770.

For more information about death certificates, please click here.