Finding Ancestors in EnglandEdit This Page
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Before beginning this specific article you may want to read the more general article Principles of Family History Research.
When researching in England it is best to be aware of the date of July 1837. This is the date at which England Civil Registration began. If you are searching for someone who was born, married, or died after 1837 in England then you can search for the individual at Free BMD. This searches the index of Civil Registration. More information about searching these records can be found at the link above.
Birth Civil Registration search is easier if you can find a birth date to narrow the search period. If you have the birth year; then the search can concentrate in each of the registration quarters for that year. Checking quarter registration period records that might possibly overlap in the time period, for the birth year is realistic to eliminate all possible matches in the civil registration records. All surname spelling possiblities need to be checked if the search is not finding the focus person. If the full birth date is known it should help the record search, to focus on the right quarter of the birth registry in the correct year. Even if a computer search shows no results for your search focus check the orginal registry index. If your focus person is not on the registry index and you think you have correct information check the parish records. Ordering a copy of the birth record can confirm your relationship and give parent information.
The marriage registration computer search has been helped because of the cross indexing of the marriage records for Brides and Grooms. When a search is done for one induvidual many records reveal the marriage partner or possible others on the same page in the record. Familysearch.org has both marriage partners listed on most of the computer search results. Both Free BMD and Ancestry.com give either the marriage partner or other names that appear on the selected page for the marriage registration record. Knowing the names of the bride and groom can confirm the search or narrow the search. With this information checking the census for the years following a marriage date can confirm if the search is successful. Ordering the copy of the marriage records should give paternal information for the couple and witnesses to the marriage. Only the signature is in the hand of the couple and does not always confirm surname spelling or birth place but where the couple were each living when they married.
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