Birth, Marriage & Death records, including Parish records, are key collections for family historians. They can provide details about important milestones in your ancestors’ lives and are the foundation of family history research. When a birth, marriage or death is registered, a certificate is filled out and the information is kept on file. They include information like the event date and place, parents’ names, occupation and residence. The cause of death is also included in most death records. Civil Registration records, usually kept by a civic authority, Parish Registers, or church authorities, can provide a more complete picture of your ancestor lives. These records could help you distinguish between two people with the same name, and help you find links to new generations.
Narrowing your Search
- Narrow your search for marriage records by looking at the age and birthplace of the first child. This information can also be found in Census Records. Start your search a year or two prior to the child’s birth and gradually widen your search back (and forward) in time until you locate the record.
- Track your ancestor year to year in Electoral Rolls to help discover death dates and places. Husbands who predecease their wives will typically stop being listed after death and you’ll often find the wife in his place, listed as “widow.”
- Court records like wills can help you estimate death dates.
- Civil registration was introduced in the UK in 1837. For vital record information before the nineteenth century, parish records (primarily baptisms, marriages and burials) are the best source. They can go as far back as 1538.
- Our England & Wales Birth, Marriage and Death (BMD) Index collections (1837 – 2005) provide the most complete resource available online. All of these records are searchable by name. For vital records before 1837, we have the Parish Registers, where you can find UK parish baptism, marriage and burial records.
- If you are looking to trace your Irish ancestors, search for the Ireland Civil Registration Index collections or Catholic Parish Registers 1655-1915 collection in our Card Catalogue
- Once you have found your ancestor’s record, make sure you collect all the information about them by ordering a Birth, Marriage or Death certificate (BMD certificate).
- For any births, marriages or deaths before 1837, you should be searching through the Parish Registers, which you can find in our UK Parish Baptism, Marriage and Burial Records collection.