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Civil Registration


Civil Registration in England began 1 July 1837.  Since that date most births, marriages, and deaths were reported to the registration office.  In 1874 a law was pass that imposed a fee if a birth of death was not recorded—increasing the percentage of vital records that were actually registered.


Birth certificates are red or pink and contain the following information:  registration district, birth date, birth place, name, sex, name of father, name (including surname and maiden name), and when registered.  Marriage certificates are green and contain the church name, location, county, date married, name of groom, name of bride, age of groom, age of bride, profession of groom, groom’s residence at time of marriage, bride’s residence at time of marriage, name of groom’s father, name of bride’s father, profession of groom’s father, profession of bride’s father, and names of witnesses.  Death certificates are black or gray and contain registration district, when died, where died, informant’s name, sex, age at death, name of informant, residence of informant, date registered.


Sample Marriage Certificate


Because only the index to the civil registration is available to the general public, the process for obtaining a civil registration certificate is to first search the indexes and then order a copy of the certificate from England.  The index is divided into three month periods.  Each index contains births, marriages, or deaths for one quarter of the year.  Approximately 20% of the index have been put on-line at FreeBMD.  The rest of the indexes to the Civil Registration are available on microfilm at the Family History Library.  See the Family History Library Catalogue for film numbers.


The original certificates can be ordered by phone, fax, or post from the Office of National Statistics.  See their website at for prices, order forms, and details.


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Next:  Probate Records

© 2002 Jeffrey Wilde