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Guide to BMD Registers


Getting Started

The aim of this site is to provide you with access to various unpublished registries from 1534 to 1865, which can usually provide records of three generations of a family or more. Usually proving to be the only record of the event, these previously unpublished records are a fantastic resource for the family historian.

The advanced features on this site enable you to search for family members that may not have their own record - see our advanced features section for more information. You can also view our paleography/handwriting section for help with interpreting difficult writing.

Credits

For full details of the costs of credits and how the service uses credits please click here.

Viewing a full record costs credits the first time you view it; viewing a full record that you have already seen is FREE for 30 days.

Viewing a page image uses credits the first time you view it; viewing a page image that you have already seen is FREE for 30 days.

To help record the information you find it is useful to have a family history program such as RootsMagic, which will enable you to print trees and create a family history.


The Hidden Records

Birth, marriage and death records are the most important way of tracking down your ancestors. The trouble is the BMD records in the General Register Office civil registration index only go back as far as 1837. These records pre-date civil registration and form an invaluable tool.

The hidden birth, marriage and death records have been compiled from various unpublished registries and many unusually include records of three generations of a family. These are a fantastic resource for the family historian and often prove to be the only record of the events.

Genealogy Supplies recognised the importance of the records and applied and won the bid to make these available online as part of The National Archives LIA scheme. This new release of online records means that for the first time these additional BMD records can be searched with ease rather than looking through millions of images on thousands of reels of microfilm.

 


What is in the records so far

The National Archives Reference RG4 - what is 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

More material coming soon....

The National Archives Reference RG5 - what is RG5?

Protestant Dissenters' Registry

The increased requirement to provide evidence of birth led the Dissenting Deputies (representing Baptists, Congregationalists & Presbyterians) to establish a births register of their children in 1743 at the Dissenters Library.

Originally for parents living within 12 miles of London it subsequently became open to anyone, regardless of distance or denomination, provided a fee was paid.

Contains details of three generations of a family (approximately 200,000 named individuals)

Registered at Rev. Daniel Williams Library, Redcross Street, Cripplegate, London

Start date April 6th 1743 - End date Dec 30th 1837

Wesleyan Methodist Registers

The Wesleyan Methodist registry opened in Paternoster Row, London in 1818.

The certificates and the register entry have the name and sex of the child, the name and address of the father, the name of the mother and of both her parents, the date and place of birth, and the name of the Wesleyan circuit, with the signature (or name, in the register) of the parents, the witnesses to the birth, and the baptising minister.

Contains details of three generations of each family (about 50,000 named individuals).

The National Archives Reference RG6- what is RG6?

Society of Friends' Registers, Notes and Certificates of Births, Marriages and Burials ranging from 1578-1841. Registers of births, deaths, burials and marriages of congregations of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in England and Wales. A number of original birth and burial notes and original marriage certificates are included. The documents in the series are arranged by Quarterly or Monthly Meetings, which consisted of a county or combinations of counties.

The National Archives Reference RG7- what is RG7?

Clandestine Marriages & Baptisms in the Fleet Prison, King's Bench Prison, the Mint & the May Fair Chapel ranging from 1667-c1777 The Fleet marriage registers are a collection of the surviving register books and notebooks containing marriages and baptisms that took place between 1667 and 1777, where many people who were excluded from a church marriage ceremony by the laws and rules laid down by the Church would seek irregular marriage ceremonies that were viewed as a valid contract within the English court under English Common Law.

The National Archives Reference RG8- what is RG8?

General Register Office: Registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths surrendered to the Non Parochial Registers Commission of 1857 Registers of birth, baptisms, death, burials and marriages which were collected by the Non-Parochial Registers Commissioners of 1857, or which were later deposited for safe custody at the General Register Office and the Public Record Office. Among the more extensive collections in this series are the registers of the British Lying-in Hospital, Holborn, which record particulars of births and baptisms. These cover the period 1749 to 1868 and are very detailed. Burial records, registers of the Chapels Royal and the archive of the Russian Orthodox Church in London.

The National Archives Reference RG32- what is RG32?

General Register Office:Overseas Births, Baptisms, Marriages, Deaths and Burials Abroad and on British & Foreign ships, of British subjects, nationals of the colonies, the Commonwealth and countries under British jurisdiction. Also Lundy Island Devon and Channel Island records. General Register Office:Overseas Births, Baptisms, Marriages, Deaths and Burials Abroad and on British & Foreign ships, of British subjects, nationals of the colonies, the Commonwealth and countries under British jurisdiction. Also Lundy Island Devon and Channel Island records.
Events affecting some foreign nationals are also included. Records consist mainly of certificates issued by foreign registration authorities, which are in local languages, and copies of entries kept by incumbents of English churches and missions, chaplains and burial authorities.
These cover the period 1831 to 1969 and are very detailed.

The National Archives Reference RG33- what is RG33?

General Register Office:Overseas Birth, Marriage, death and Burial of British Subjects including those onboard ships. Also Lundy Island Devon Registers of Overseas Birth, Marriage, death and Burial of British Subjects including those onboard ships. Also Lundy Island Devon. Original registers, notebooks and copies of entries in registers kept by incumbents of English churches and missions, British embassies and legations etc. These cover the period 1627 to 1960 and are very detailed.

The National Archives Reference RG34- what is RG34?

General Register Office: Overseas Foreign Marriage Returns (1861-1921) This series contains marriage certificates issued by foreign registration authorities and churches, copies of entries in the registers kept by British embassies, incumbents of English churches and chaplains, notification of marriages of servicemen during service abroad, and documents deposited for safekeeping. 1861-1921

The National Archives Reference RG35- what is RG35?

General Register Office: Miscellaneous Foreign Death Returns - 1791-1921 This series contains death certificates issued by foreign registration authorities and churches, copies of entries in the registers kept by British embassies, incumbents of English churches and chaplains, notification of marriages of servicemen during service abroad, and documents deposited for safekeeping. They include an incomplete collection of certificates of British military deaths in France and Belgium, 1914 to 1921, issued by the registration authorities of those countries.

The National Archives Reference RG36- what is RG36?

RG36 Registers and Returns of Births, Marriages and Deaths in the Protectorates etc of Africa and Asia Covering dates 1895-1965 This series contains Registers and Returns of Births, Marriages and Deaths in the Protectorates etc of Africa and Asia Covering dates 1895-1965. Notifications of birth, marriage and death forwarded by officials responsible for civil registration under administrative ordinances in Nyasaland, Kenya, Somaliland, Uganda, Sudan, Palestine, Sarawak, Malaya, including Johore and Selangor, and British North Borneo. These newly added records were previously only viewable on microfilm at The National Archives.

The National Archives Reference BT158, BT159 & BT160- what is the BT Series?

BT158 Registry of Shipping and Seamen: Registers of Births, Deaths and Marriages of Passengers at Sea. Covering dates 1854-1908

BT159 Registry of Shipping and Seamen: Registers of Deaths at Sea of British Nationals. Covering dates 1875-1888

BT160 Registry of Shipping and Seamen: Registers of Births at Sea of British Nationals. Covering dates 1875-1891
These are registers compiled from ships' official logs of births, deaths and marriages of passengers at sea by the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen (RGSS) and its predecessor. From 1874, the RGSS was required to report births and deaths at sea, aboard all ships registered in Britain or its colonies and on foreign-registered ships carrying passengers to or from the UK, to the Registrars General of England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland (the General Register Offices). The name of this series is misleading as it includes events related to persons of any nationality, not just British nationals. It should also cover events on foreign-registered passenger ships travelling to or from a UK port, but there is little evidence of this in the registers themselves.


Paleography (how to deal with difficult handwriting)

If you are having difficulty in reading a name the first thing to do is look at other entries to get a guide to how the author writes various letters. It can take a while to “get your eye in” as to how a particular set of registers is written. First names are more readily recognised and so gives a basis as to what letter shapes are used.

When trying to interpret a line you should look at the line above and follow any descenders down and try to imagine the line without the clutter of other entries from the line above or below.

If a name is particularly difficult you will need to break it down into a range of names from the possible letters.

As a general guide the following rules apply:

Don’t forget: some material may show a different surname spelling to a later one; as literacy improved these variations reduced.


Advanced Features

Search all names - Many of the records include the names of people other than the main subject of the record, e.g. parents and grandparents. By ticking this box your results list will also include any records where such people match your search criteria.

The Genealogist Research Guide by David Tippey

Contents

Researching Your Family History Using TheGenealogist.co.uk

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

Census

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

BMDs

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