Births, deaths and marriages in England and Wales can be divided into 2 main sections – events prior to 1837, which fall under Church or Parish records, and those after 1837, which fall under civil registration.
This post looks at civil registration. The indexes to these can be found on a number of different sites – the indexes up to 1915 are available free. FamilySearch and FreeBMD also have additional records after 1915 available for free, while the indexes at Ancestry require a subscription.
- England and Wales, Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008
- England and Wales, Death Registration Index 1837-2007
- England and Wales, Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005
- England & Wales, FreeBMD Marriage Index, 1837-1915
- England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915
- England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index, 1837-1915
- England & Wales, Marriage Index, 1916-2005
- England & Wales, Birth Index, 1916-2005
- England & Wales, Death Index, 1916-2007
Since these indexes only provide the name of the person, and in the case of the death indexes their age, these indexes need to be used in conjunction with other resources, such as censuses, cemeteries, military records, probate & wills, and newspapers, to determine which district the family were living in at the time of the birth, and to narrow down the time frame. For more common names, you may still be left with a number of entries for the same name in the same few years, so it is also worthwhile to see if there are any church records available for the district as well.
Once you have found an entry you believe is your ancestor, or family member, the next thing to do is apply for the certificate for further details. These can be obtained from the General Register Office, UK certificate ordering website. This website has an online form to complete, and then the certificates are usually sent out in about 2 weeks. The current cost of a certificate is £9.25 for standard service.