England and Wales birth, death and marriage indexes

Download the PDF version of England and Wales birth, death and marriage indexes: family history info guide [PDF 83kb]

What records are available?

Civil registration of births, deaths and marriages in England and Wales commenced in July 1837. Indexes to these records are known as the St Catherine’s House indexes. State Library of Queensland (SLQ) holds the indexes on microfiche:

Holdings on microficheCall no.
Births 1837 - 2001MFC 929.341 1990-
Deaths 1837 - 2001MFC 929.341 1990-
Marriages 1837 - 2001MFC 929.341 1990-

SLQ also holds the indexes to deaths from 1984 to 2000 on CD-ROM.

How are the indexes arranged?

From 1837 to 1984 the microfiche indexes are arranged separately by event (birth, death or marriage). They are then arranged into quarters:

  • March quarter: January, February, March
  • June quarter: April, May, June
  • September quarter: July, August, September
  • December quarter: October, November, December

From 1985 onwards the indexes are annually arranged. Note: some of the microfiche indexes can be difficult to read.

What information do the indexes provide?

  • Birth Indexes (Sep 1837 to Jun 1911): Surname, Given Name/s, Registration District, Volume and Page
  • Birth Indexes (Sep 1911 to Dec 2001): Surname, Given Name/s, Mother’s Maiden Surname, Registration District, Volume and Page
  • Marriage Indexes (Sep 1837 to Dec 1911): Surname, Given Name/s, Registration District, Volume and Page (Does not provide the details of the spouse)
  • Marriage Indexes (Mar 1912 to Dec 2001): Surname, Given Name/s, Surname of Spouse, Registration District, Volume and Page
  • Death Indexes (Sep 1837 to Mar 1866): Surname, Given Name/s, Registration District, Volume and Page
  • Death Indexes (Jun 1866 to Dec 2001): Surname, Given Name/s, Age, Registration District, Volume and Page


Examples:

1. Birth Entry: Arthur Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister 1937-1940 (1869, June quarter):

NameDistrictVolumePage
CHAMBERLAIN
--- Arthur NevilleKing’s N.6c407

2. Death Entry: Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes novels (1930, December quarter):

NameAgeDistrictVolumePage
DOYLE
--- Arthur C.71Uckfield2b135

To what does the volume number refer?

The volume number refers to the civil registration district. For example Neville Chamberlain’s birth entry listed 6c as the civil registration district, which is Worcestershire. There are two sets of Civil Registration District Codes, one between 1837 and 1852 and the other between 1852 and 1946. A district key explaining the volume numbers is held at the Family History desk on Level 3.

How do I order certificates once I’ve found my ancestor?

With the information gained from the indexes certificates can be purchased by:

Why can’t I find anything?

Late registrations
Some events (usually births) may have been registered several weeks after the event. In this case check the next few quarters.

Misspelt surnames
Surnames can occasionally be incorrectly recorded. This can be caused by numerous factors such as illiteracy, strong accents and speech impediments.

Incorrect datesOccasionally the age listed on a death or marriage certificate may be an estimation, therefore it is advisable to search a wide range of years.

What other indexes are available?

The following UK records are also available:

Army returns and consular returns: indexes to births, deaths and marriages 1761-1965 [microfiche] MFC 355.30941 1995

These records include:

  • Army Chaplains births indices 1796-1880
  • Chaplains returns marriages 1796-1880
  • Army Chaplains death indices 1796-1880
  • Births abroad indices 1966-1994

GRO marine deaths indices 1837-1965 [microfiche] MFC 016.929341 1996

GRO marine births indices 1837-1965 [microfiche] MFC 016.929341 1996

There are also various baptism, marriage and burial record indexes available for some of the English countries on CD-ROM. For more information check the One Search online catalogue.

What internet sites are available?

General Register Office (GRO) UK
Births: 1837 – 1916 and 2007 on; Deaths: 1837 – 1957 and 2007 on; Marriages: 2011 on
Birth search includes mother’s maiden name back to 1837. Death search similarly includes age at time of death. To search you do need to register but it is free to do so. You can order certificates from the search results.

Ancestry.com (Library edition)
Available onsite only at SLQ
Search England and Wales freebmd 1837-1983 plus England and Wales birth, death and marriage indexes 1837-2005. Check the full list of English birth, death and marriage records, which are frequently updated, for further records.

findmypast (Library edition)
Available onsite only at SLQ
This site contains a searchable database of English and Welsh birth, death and marriage indexes from 1538 to the present.

Free BMD
This project's aim is to gradually transcribe information from the civil registration indexes (1837-1983) and enter the information into a searchable database. This database can be searched via the internet and volunteers are constantly adding new information.

FamilySearch
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has constructed an online database containing parish records (baptisms and marriages only). The 1881 (British) census is also available.

UKBMD – Births, marriages, death indexes & census transcriptions online for UK family history
This site contains links to websites that offer online transcriptions of UK births, marriages, deaths and censuses indexes among others. It is a good way to locate the original indexes to births, marriages and deaths held at local register offices.

Download the PDF version of England and Wales birth, death and marriage indexes: family history info guide [PDF 83kb]

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