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  General Births, marriages and deaths have been registered in England and Wales since 1 July 1837. Each of the master indexes provided by the General Register Office (GRO) covers a single quarter within a specific year for a particular event (births, marriages or deaths). The index entries are listed in surname/forename order.
  Information Provided GRO Master Indexes
  • All Indexes - surname, forenames, registration district, volume reference, page reference
  • Birth Indexes from September 1911 onwards also contains - mother's maiden surname
  • Marriage Indexes from March 1912 onwards also contains - spouse's surname (marriages are indexed by the pre marriage surnames of both the groom and bride)
  • Death Indexes from March 1866 onwards also contains - age at death

Birth Certificate

  • Child - date of birth, place of birth, forenames and sex
  • Father - full name, occupation (plus, from 1969, place of birth)
  • Mother - full name and maiden surname (plus, from 1969, place of birth)
  Marriage Certificate
  • Date and place of marriage
  • Names of witnesses
  • Bride and Groom - full names, current addresses, occupations, marital status, ages, names and occupations of respective fathers
  Death Certificate
  • Deceased - full name, date of death, place of death, cause of death, occupation (or name and occupation of husband), date of birth, place of birth, usual address (plus, from 1969, maiden name if married or widowed woman)
  • Informant - name, address and relationship to deceased if any

Registration was not made compulsory until 1875 and it is estimated that up to 20% of births were not registered in some areas during the period 1837-75

Be wary of ages stated in death certificates of people born before 1837 since the deceased and their relatives often only had a vague idea of when they were born

Our ancestors often lied to the Registrar, particularly about their ages for marriage certificates

  Access Internet Access to Indexes
  • The complete index as published by the GRO from 1837 to 2005 can be viewed on a subscription basis at the Find My Past web site, the Genealogist web site or the web site (choice of site tends to depend on the relevance of the other online databases on offer within their respective subscription packages - see our comparison of subscription sites page) - for the years 1837 to 1983 the index is held in digitised image format - for the years 1984 to 2005 it is held in readily searchable text format
  • A high proportion of the index for the years 1837 to the mid 1900s has been transcribed and can be searched for free on the FreeBMD site (part of the volunteer run Free UK Genealogy group which provides free access to Parish Registers, Census and Birth, Marriage & Death records) - for most years up until 1939 for births, 1951 for marriages and 1968 for deaths, the coverage is 100% or very close to - check the site's coverage charts for the latest progress
  Microfiche Copies of GRO Master Indexes
  Obtaining Copies of Certificates
  • Costs £9.25 per certificate for standard service - certificate sent within 4 working days if certificate index reference supplied, otherwise sent within 15 working days
  • Costs £23.40 per certificate for priority service - sent next working day but must be ordered by phone (0300 123 1837) before 4pm
  • Can be ordered online at
  • Can be ordered by phone from the General Register Office on 0300 123 1837
  • Can be ordered by post from General Register Office at P.O. Box 2, Southport, Merseyside PR8 2JD - an application form can be downloaded online from
This page last updated: 9 November 2018