History Of Civil Registration

Ministry Letters

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The civil registration of births, marriages and deaths was introduced to England and Wales on 1 July 1837. For the first time these events would be recorded

for all the population, before this only the incomplete church and chapel records are available. This is not quite true though, as when the initial legislation came into force registration wasn't compulsory, so you may not find an entry that you expect to be there in the early years. This is especially true of births. Many were wary of - or didn't know how to go about - registering, or thought that a church Baptism register entry was all that was required.

Although parents could volunteer the information, they only had to register a birth if the registrar demanded it. Early marriage and burial entries are more complete, as after 1837 you required a death certificate before a burial, and since 1754 weddings - except Jewish or Quaker marriages - had to be performed in the parish church, and were officially recorded. From 1837 new duplicate marriage registers were used, and the copies submitted to the Registrar. An act in 1875 made full registration for all three events compulsory, so in theory after this date there should be entries for everybody.


BMDindex is hosted as part of the content on The Genealogist website, the online data service from the publishing company S&N/British Data Archive.

Visiting The Genealogist website you will discover that BMDindex is one small part of the online content. Much of the material is census-related at present and of particular benefit to users of the census images which the company publish on CD under the British Data Archive banner.

You will find full indexes to the London 1891 and 1861 Censuses,

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