Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ordering Birth, Marriages and Death Records from England

Years ago, contacting the county record office was the quickest, and often the cheapest way to obtain a vital record from England. Now, with the internet you can order directly from the General Register Office, with a credit card. It has become quite easy to do so.

Recording of births, marriages and deaths in England began 1 July 1837. Most events should have been recorded, but there may be some that weren’t.

There are several indexes on-line that are available to determine when and where your ancestor’s event took place.
  • (  will give you all the information you need to apply for a record. It might be a good idea to print off the page of interest so you have registration district, volume number and page number. In addition, you can check for spouses in the marriage index by clicking on “click to see others on page.” If you don’t have a subscription to Ancestry, check out your local library or local Family History Center.
  • Free BMD also has an index, and they too, give you all the information you need to obtain the record of interest.
  • Find My Past is another option to check the index. All of these provide the information you need to order the document.
The indexes show the quarter in which the event was recorded NOT the date of the event. You will need this information as well to order.

Once you’ve determined which document to order, you can go to the General Register Office and place your order. Currently the £9.25 fee equals about $15.50. You will be given a mailing date and in about two weeks time your document will arrive.

Birth records include the date of birth, name of child, name of parents, including mother’s maiden name and where and when registered. Marriage records include date of marriage, names of parties marrying, their ages or note that they are of age, names of the fathers, how married (banns, license), occupations and when and where recorded.

Death records include date of death, name of deceased and age, cause of death, where and when died and the informant.

Researching from across the pond can be frustrating at times, but the General Register Office has made this particular process extremely easy. Just remember to have on hand all the information you need – district, volume and page number and the quarter in which the event was recorded.

©2011, copyright International Society for British Genealogy and Family History

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