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Civil Registration

Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths began in England and Wales on 1st July 1837 and is ongoing. There is no free access to the actual certificates of births, marriages and deaths and the only way that information from these can be obtained is by buying the relevant certificate. However, there is an index to registrations of Births, Marriages and Deaths called the General Register Office (GRO) Index and Archives Heritage and Photography provides free access to this.

We hold microfiche of:
 
  • Births July 1st 1837 - present day
  • Marriages July 1st 1837 - present day
  • Deaths - July 1st 1837 - present day
  • Overseas/Miscellaneous Indexes (various dates) including army returns (such as Army Births, Army Chaplain Births, Chaplains Marriages and Army Deaths), Deaths Abroad and war deaths during WW1 and WW2. 
The indexes are alphabetical by surname and are arranged quarterly from 1837-1983 and annually from 1984 onwards.
 
The GRO index is also available online up to 2005 on several websites including www.ancestry.co.uk and at www.findmypast.co.uk up to 2005/2006. Both of these websites are subscription based. The free website www.freebmd.org.uk  has partial indexes which can be accessed without charge.
 
Ancestry Institution Edition  is available free of charge in all Birmingham libraries. Other library authorities may also provide this facility.

To order a birth, marriage or death certificate you will need to contact the local Register Office which holds registers for where the event was registered or the General Register Office at Southport. You will need to provide the full name(s), year and quarter of the registration and the volume and page number of the entry. Please note that some local Register Offices may require additional information for certain certificates, such as parents’ names for births in the last 50 years.
 
More information about civil registration in Birmingham and how to apply for certificates can be found at www.birmingham.gov.uk/registeroffice  Information on the General Register Office at Southport and how to apply for certificates can be found at www.gro.gov.uk

What information is given on a birth certificate for England and Wales?

Until 1969 this shows: date and place of birth - from the late nineteenth century an address may be given rather than the name of an institution (eg. City Hospital will appear as 77 Dudley Road), the name and sex of child, parents' names - including mother's maiden name, occupation of father, name and address of person registering the birth and the date of registration. From 1969 there is additional information, including the place of birth of the parents.

What information is given on a marriage certificate for England and Wales?

Date and place of marriage; names, ages and marital status of bride and groom; occupations of bride and groom; addresses of bride and groom at time of marriage; names and occupations of fathers of bride and groom; and signature/mark of bride and groom and at least 2 witnesses.

What information is given on a death certificate for England and Wales?

Date and place of death – from the late nineteenth century an address may be given rather than the name of an institution (eg. City Hospital will appear as 77 Dudley Road). Name of the deceased. Sex, age and occupation of deceased and possibly their home address. The cause of death – if there was an inquest it may be possible to obtain a copy of the coroner’s report. The name and address of informant and possibly their relationship to the deceased. If the deceased was a child or a single woman the name of the father is shown. From 1969 a death certificate also includes the date and place of birth of the deceased and the maiden name of a married woman.

How much do certificates cost?

See http://www.gro.gov.uk  For certificates in the Birmingham registration district see www.birmingham.gov.uk/registeroffice 

NB. Prices may vary between local register offices.

How do I find Irish births, marriages and deaths?

Civil Registration of births, marriages and deaths began on 1 January 1864, although non-catholic marriages were recorded from 1845. Registers for all of Ireland up to 1921, and for the Republic of Ireland, from 1922 to the present day, are held at the General Register of Ireland: for information on these certificates see http://www.groireland.ie . Registers for Northern Ireland, including those prior to 1922, are held at the General Register Office for Northern Ireland (GRONI): for information on these certificates see http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/gro

For information on these certificates visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/gro

How do I find Scottish births, marriages and deaths?

Civil Registration of births, marriages and deaths began on 1 January 1855. For information on these certificates see www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

How do I find information on stillbirths?

Only the mother or father is able to apply for a stillbirth certificate, and they must be named on the certificate. If the parents are deceased a sibling can apply as long as they can provide the dates of death of their parents. To apply for the application form for a stillbirth certificate, contact the General Register Office. Further details are available at: www.direct.gov.uk by entering the search terms "stillbirth certificate."

How do I find information on adoption certificates?

There is a separate index of adoptions which was introduced in 1927. The information shown always refers to the adopted name of the child. The indexes vary in the amount of information they give, dependent on the year in which the adoption took place. Application for a certificate should be made to the Adoptions Section of the General Register Office. Further details can be found at: www.direct.gov.uk by entering the search term "adoption certificate."

How do I find information on soldiers killed in World Wars One and Two?

There are separate indexes for soldiers killed in theatres of war. These form part of the General Register Office Overseas/Miscellaneous Indexes. Copies of certificates can only be obtained from the General Register Office. See www.gro.gov.uk

How do I find Births, Marriages and Deaths before the introduction of civil registration?

If you are searching for a birth, marriage or death prior to civil registration you will need to look at church records. These parish registers of baptisms, marriages and burials began in the mid C16th although not all churches have registers that date this far back.  Archives Heritage and Photography hold registers for Anglican churches within the present day Birmingham diocese. Details of the registers held here can be found at http://calmview.birmingham.gov.uk  Parish registers can also be found online at http://www.ancestry.co.uk and other sites such as http://www.familysearch.org/ and www.freereg.org.uk  Many non-conformist registers are available on the ancestry website and also at http://www.thegenealogist.co.uk/