Reference Centre, Quick Reference Charts

Civil Registration -
England & Wales, with Lundy Island

Registration of all events commences 1 July 1837

See "How to Obtain" below chart

Types of Data Birth Marriage Death Index
Name of Individual yes checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark
As of April 1969 a married woman's maiden surname began to be recorded on death certificates.
Yes. Index for all events freely searchable on-line at FreeBMD. Please note:
1. FreeBMD is not 100% complete and continues to actively add new indexed entries,

2. not all events are indexed to the same extent, at this time, and

3. the latest year searchable is 1982.

You can also search for index reference numbers for free at:
Library of Birmingham
Bridgend Reference and Information Library
City of Westminster Archives Centre
Manchester Central Library
Newcastle City Library
Plymouth Central Library
The British Library
These are the only complete copies of the full sets of index reference numbers available in England or Wales. They’re on microfiche.

Some of the indexes are available at LDS Family History Centres, the Family History Library in Utah, and may be available at other public libraries and archives.

Also available for searching on a number of commercial subscription websites, which will not be detailed here.

Lundy Island:

Lundy Island was accidentally omitted from the 1837 registration legislation. Births and Deaths are at the National Archives, Kew, in Miscellaneous Foreign Returns RG 32, RG33/36 and RG 48, with one death in RG 35/20. There is an index to the registrations in RG 43. Can be searched for free on BMD Registers website. With a free account one can search on "advanced" criteria. One must purchase credits, however, to view the full results of the search.
Marital Status no crosscheck yes checkmark
Up to 1971 person may have been described as bachelor or spinster if a prior marriage had been annulled or otherwise voided. As of 1971 status recorded accurately
no crosscheck
If a female may be under occupation as a widow
Age no crosscheck yes checkmark yes checkmark
June 1969 date of birth of deceased added
Occupationno crosscheckyes checkmarkyes checkmark
No occupation for married women until 1969. As of 1969 if a married women was employed at the time of her death, her occupation was included on the certificate.
Date of Eventyes checkmarkyes checkmarkyes checkmark
Place of Eventyes checkmarkyes checkmarkyes checkmark
Name of Fatheryes checkmark
If child was illegitimate father was recorded up to 1875. As of 1875 father had to be present at registration to consent to have his name added to birth. As of 1953 father did not have to be present at the registration in order to be named as father of the child.
yes checkmarkno crosscheck
Not until 1970 then a death certificate concerning the death of an illegitimate child will record the names of both the mother and father of that child
Father's Occupationyes checkmarkyes checkmarkno crosscheck
If Father Livingno crosscheckyes checkmark
Stated if deceased but not always reliable if not stated as deceased
no crosscheck
Place of birth of
1969 place of birth requiredno crosscheckno crosscheck
Name of Motheryes checkmarkno crosscheckno crosscheck
Not until 1970 then a death certificate concerning the death of an illegitimate child may record the names of both the mother and father.
Maiden Surname of
yes checkmark
Up to 1969 all previous surnames used by mother were to be included. As of 1969 only mother's maiden surname is required so prior marriages may go undetected.
no crosscheckno crosscheck
Mother's Occupationno crosscheckno crosscheckno crosscheck
If Mother Livingno crosscheckno crosscheckno crosscheck
Place of birth of
1969 place of birth requiredno crosscheckno crosscheck
Witnessesno crosscheckyes checkmarkno crosscheck
Relationship of
Witnesses to
no crosscheckno crosscheckno crosscheck
Addresses of
no crosscheckno crosscheckno crosscheck
Name of Informant
of Event
yes checkmark
As of 1875 informant could be person in charge of child but not necessarily the mother or father of the child
no crosscheckyes checkmark
Relationship of
Informant to
yes checkmarkno crosscheckyes checkmark
As of 1875 informant's relationship began to be stated on the death certificate as well as the words "present at death" for one who was physically present at the death or "in attendance" for one who merely attended at the registration office to register the death.
Address of Informantyes checkmarkno crosscheckyes checkmark
Changes to
Information on

Changes to
Information on
Only about 50-60% of births, both legitimate and illegitimate, were registered as parents were not legally obliged to inform the registrar

1836 legislation provided that "it shall not be necessary to register the name of any father of a bastard child."

As of 1850 instructions to registrars were clarified to state that, "No putative father is allowed to sign an entry in the character of 'Father'."

As of 1875 registration of births became compulsory. The onus was on the parents to inform the registrar when they had a child and penalties were imposed on those who failed to register. Births had to be registered within 42 days at the district or sub-district office, usually by the mother or father. If more days had elapsed but it was less than three months since the birth, the superintendent registrar had to be present and if between three months and a year, the registration could only be authorised by the Registrar General.

1911 birth index as of September quarter includes mother's maiden surname.

Until 1926, there were no registrations at all of still born children.

1968 child's surname actually began to be stated as part of the birth registration record.

1969 the sex of the child ceased to be recorded as boy or girl and instead began to be recorded as male or female.
From the date of commencement Church of England clergy acted as the local registrar for the registration of marriages and that clergy kept two sets of registers. Marriages were only legally binding if they were notified to the superintendent registrar by the officiating minister so in effect, this required the presence of a local registration officer as the authorising person. When a nonconformist minister or other religious official, such as a rabbi, performed the ceremony it was necessary for the local registrar or his assistant to be present so that the marriage was legal.

1912 marriage index begins to cross-reference spouse's surname with each index entry.
The local registrar had to be informed of a death within five days and burial (or cremation) could not take place until the death had been properly registered.

As of 1845 the cause of death had to be certified meaning that a doctor had to certify the death before registration of the death could be sought.

1866 death index begins to include the age of individual at death.

1875 cause of death needed to be certified or call to coroner was made.

How to Obtain

Hint:  Marriages as recorded in Church of England parish registers as of 1 July 1837 contain precisely the same information as that to be found on a statutory marriage certificate.  Therefore, you may wish to check for availability of Church of England parish registers before applying for a marriage certificate.  This circumstance does not apply to births or deaths.

Cost of all certificates by standard ordering methods £9.25. Cost of expedited certificates £23.40.

In person:
Attend at your the Local Register Office where the event occurred.

By Telephone:
General Register Office
This service is only available to credit and debit card holders.
Telephone: 0300 123 1837
Text relay: 18001 0300 123 1837
Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
Saturday, 9am to 4pm

General Register Office

By mail:
General Register Office
Certificate Services Section
PO Box 2,
Merseyside, ENGLAND
Tel: 0300 123 1837 (Mon-Fri 8am-8pm; Sat 9am-4pm)

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