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Guide to BMD Registers

What is RG4?

RG4 are registers (authenticated by the Non-Parochial Registers Commissioners) of births, baptisms, deaths, burials and marriages. They cover dates from 1567 to 1858. You can find full details on TNA website, including content and background information.

The National Archives Reference RG4

Non-parochial registers 1567 to 1858

General Register Office, 1836-1970
Royal Hospital, Greenwich, 1694 onwards
Dr Williams Library, 1742-1865
Presbyterian, Independent and Baptist Registry, 1742-1837
Wesleyan Methodist Metropolitan Registry, 1818-1838

An important factor to remember when searching through early records is the variation in the calendar system. The Julian Calendar was the standard system until 1752 which was then replaced by the Gregorian Calendar and the first day of the year became January 1st. According to the Julian Calendar, the first day of the new year was 25th March 'Lady Day', so a full year would run from March 25th to March 24th. Dates between January 1st and March 24th would still be assigned the previous year, for example, January 1st 1744 would either be written as 1744 or 1744/45 to indicate the dual date. At TheGenealogist we use the date as written, so please be aware of this when searching for dates before March 1752.

Types of Records

Anglican (Church of England) BMD Records - Registers kept by institutions outside the normal Church of England parish structure, such as Greenwich Hospital.

Baptist, Independent and Presbyterian BMD Records - The Protestant Dissenters' Registry served the congregations of Baptist, Independents and Presbyterians in London and within a twelve mile radius of the capital. However, parents from most parts of the British Isles and even abroad also used the registry. It was started in 1742, with retrospective entries going back to 1716, and continued until 1837.

Wesleyan Methodist BMD Records - The Wesleyan Methodist Registry was set up in 1818 and provided registration of births and baptisms of Wesleyan Methodists throughout England, Wales and elsewhere. The registers continued until 1838, with some retrospective registration of births going back to 1773.

Roman Catholic BMD Records - Registers of births, baptisms, deaths, burials and marriages for some Roman Catholic communities in Dorset, Hampshire, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Yorkshire. The majority cover Northumberland.

The Genealogist Research Guide by David Tippey


Researching Your Family History Using

  1. Getting started
  2. The Genealogist
  3. Smart Search™


The census

  1. What is the census?
  2. What does it tell us?
  3. Possible pitfalls
  4. Using the census
  5. Paleography (how to deal with difficult handwriting)
  6. Working with the census

Anatomy of the census page

  1. How the page is numbered
  2. The census information
  3. Other marks

About census indexes

  1. Creating census name indexes

Using census indexes

  1. Searching the indexes
  2. Accuracy and omissions

About census transcripts

Using census transcripts

  1. Search terms


Birth, marriage & death records index

  1. What they provide
  2. Why buy certificates?
  3. Finding certificate references
  4. 1837 to 1983 data
  5. 1984 onwards
  6. Additional features
  7. Ordering certificates

Other resources

Parish records

  1. Using the parish registers

Trade directories

Other resources

  1. English & Welsh Landowners 1873
  2. Knights of England 1127 to 1904