Today's Tips come from Hilary Gadsby, our friend in Wales.
Certificates for a birth, marriage or death in England or Wales - How do I order the right one?
Where do I start?
Before you start any researching make sure you have all the information you already have in research plan notes. Obtain information from family, even if they don't have exact dates or places, they may have information that helps you narrow your search.
How do I find the information to order the correct certificate?
Before you can start to order a certificate you need more background information.
If the person you are trying to find was born, married or died in England or Wales after 1 July 1837 there should be a registration of the event.
Particularly in the early years some events did not get registered or indexed.
You can narrow your possibilities by doing some research first. If the person you want was alive between 1841-1911 you should be able to find them in the census. The only exception being a child who was born and died between the census years.
Most marriages took place in the parish church. Baptisms and Burials whilst not always in the parish church are also a source of information if looking for a birth or death date. These records may be online or accessible at a Family History Centre.
You can find a lot of helpful information on the GenUKI website. Including a list of registration districts with any changes that may have occurred since registration began. This is particularly useful if you need to contact the local office as the current holder of the records is listed.
The ordering process.
Having narrowed when and where the event took place the next step is to search the index.
The website FreeBMD allows you to search for the index entries. Its main limitation is that it in incomplete. There is information on the site regarding the coverage and if you are unable to find any entries check that they have finished transcribing the indexes for that year and place.
If you have an unusual surname or first name to find consider alternative spellings if you cannot find the entry.
With common names such as John or James Smith you will need to search in as narrow a place and time period as possible, there can be several entries in a single district alone, if you are looking for a birth certificate and have some certainty regarding the place or names of the parents, you may find ordering from the local office increases the likelihood of obtaining the correct certificate.
The General Register Office website states “All births in England, Wales and Northern Ireland must be registered within 42 days of the child being born”. So if you are looking for a birth it is important to consider that it may have been registered in the quarter following that in which the birth took place. This is particularly so for births in March, June, September and December. Marriages are registered on the day of the event and deaths usually within days.
There is a good website that explains more about the information on certificates and ordering but it has not been updated and some of the information and prices are out of date.
Having found the index entry where do you order the certificate. The official website is the only way you should order online using the information from the index. Links on other websites will charge you more. If you need to order from a local office it costs more, not every local office has online ordering, the page and entry number are not required and you may be required to pay extra postage.
Whilst checking my links for this post I found a website I had not used before. You may find it worthwhile having a look at it before you order any certificates. There is also a link to it on the FreeBMD website.
In all my years of searching I have only ever ordered one wrong certificate. I once quoted the wrong index number, so did not receive the certificate I wanted, be sure to check the entry on the image and don’t rely on the transcription.
I am an experienced amateur genealogist. I live in Wales but all my research has been in England.I am a member of the Guild of One Name Studies and The Surname Society as well as several family history societies in England.
I have several blogs.
The Edge of Snowdonia, Mastering Genealogy Software, The Gadsby Family Ancestors and Cousins and am a regular contributor to the Worldwide Genealogy blog.
I also have a blog for my One Name Study for the Rosling surname .
Thanks for the great tips, Hilary!
Are we kin? Need help with your research? Please contact me.
Together we can find our people.
Thanks so much for stopping by!