England/Wales Birth, Marriage & Death Records

Search the England/Wales Birth, Marriage & Death Records Collection


England and Wales Birth, Marriage and Death Indexes

Original indexes created by the General Register Office (GRO) in London, England. The GRO is part of Her Majesty’s Passport Office and oversees civil registration in England and Wales. They maintain the national archive of all births, marriages and deaths dating back to 1837.*

The indices on RootsPoint contain the following fields:

  • Surname
  • Given name
  • District
  • Volume ID
  • Page reference
  • Page
  • Country
  • County
  • Civil Parish or Town
  • Year of registration
  • Quarter of registration

About the collection

In the early days of the system, it was up to each local registrar to find out what births, marriages and deaths had taken place in his sub-district. It has therefore been estimated that only about 50-60% of births, both legitimate and illegitimate, were registered as parents were not legally obliged to inform the registrar. It has been estimated that in some parts of England up to 15% of births were not registered between 1837 and 1875. As a result of the Births and Deaths Act 1874, registration was made compulsory from 1875 and the onus was now on 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 authorized by the Registrar General.

Until 1926, there were no registrations at all of stillborn children. For illegitimate children, the original 1836 legislation provided that “it shall not be necessary to register the name of any father of a bastard child.” From 1850, instructions to registrars were clarified to state that, “No putative father is allowed to sign an entry in the character of ‘Father’.” However, the law was changed again 1875 to allow a father of an illegitimate child to record his name on his child’s birth certificate if he attended the register office with the mother. In 1953 a child father could also be recorded on the birth certificate, if not married to the mother, without being physically present to sign the register.

For use via Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/. Link found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Register_Office_for_England_and_Wales.

*It’s quick and easy to order birth, marriage, civil partnership, death, adoption and commemorative certificates online via the government’s own official website. The indexes provide all of the information you need to order a copy of the birth certificate which give exact dates, places and parentsÔÇÖ names.

Copies of the birth certificates contain the following information:

  • the registration district and sub-district;
  • the entry number;
  • the name of the child (if already bestowed);
  • the date and place of birth;
  • the sex;
  • the name of the father;
  • the name and maiden name of the mother;
  • and the profession or occupation of the father;
  • the name, address, and position of the informant (e.g. mother)
  • the date of registration and the name of the registrar
  • a name given after registration e.g. if they were given a different name after baptism if within 12 months of the birth being registered.