England and Wales, Birth Registration Index (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.


Record Description

The collection consists of an index to births registered in England and Wales beginning 1 July 1837 through 2008. The index is arranged in volumes by years with the entries listed alphabetically. These indexes can be used to order a copy of the actual certificate. Index courtesy of Findmypast.com.

Record Content

Birth registration indexes generally list:

  • Child's full name.
  • Mother's maiden name (starting July 1911).
  • Event type. Although the event type is listed as "birth," the event type is actually a birth registration, which can occur legally up to 42 days after the actual birth (known to cause the alteration of some registered birth dates to fit within this condition) and exceptionally at any time in an individual's life if the birth was not registered at the time of the birth. Note that before 1875 the responsibility for registration was with the Registrar - parents were only legally obliged to register the birth if demanded of them by the Registrar - and it is commonly estimated that up to 15% of births in this period (1837-1874) were not registered; from 1875 the legal responsibility for registration was with those present at the birth. See England Civil Registration.
  • Event year. This is the year the birth was registered, which may or may not be the same as the actual year of birth. Similarly, the registration quarter could be different from the actual birth quarter.
  • Event place. This is the Registration District where the birth was registered (based on the Poor Law Unions). Note that registration districts are used for administrative purposes. They are not related to counties and may in fact span several of them.
  • County. The county listed is only inferred from the registration district and may or may not be the actual county where the birth occurred.You should use other sources to confirm the actual birth location.
  • Page and volume of the indexed birth entry. There is currently a problem with some volume numbers in the FamilySearch collection which omit the alpha suffix (which was used after 1851): for example, a volume may show as 7 when it is actually 7b.The correct page and volume number can be obtained on the FreeBMD web site.
  • Registration quarter. As noted above, the registration quarter could be different from the actual birth quarter. The FamilySearch collection currently uses numbers for quarters instead of the standard quarter names assigned by the General Record Office (shown below in parentheses):
1 (March Quarter, covering January - March)
2 (June Quarter, covering April - June)
3 (September Quarter, covering July - September)
4 (December Quarter, covering October - December)

How to Use the Record

As you are searching it is helpful to know such information as your ancestor’s given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence and age, and family relationships. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.

Search the Collection

To search by index: To search the collection fill in the requested information in the boxes on the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the individuals in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to look at the information on several individuals comparing the information about them to your ancestors to make this determination.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the wiki article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

Using the Information

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. Download a copy of the record, or extract the genealogical information needed. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details. Add this new information to your records of each family. The information may also lead you to other records about your ancestors. For example:

  • Use the information in the index to obtain a copy of the birth certificate from the appropriate registration district.
  • Use the parents' names and the birth place to locate the family in census and church records.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Knowing the district name and at least an approximate year in which the birth occurred will reduce your search time.
  • Events are filed by the date registered, not the date they occurred (for example, a birth on 20 March which was registered on 6 April will be in the April-May-June quarter).
  • Indexes were prepared by hand and may contain copying errors (for example, "T" for "F") or omissions.
  • Persons with common names may be difficult to identify in the index.
  • A child born before the parents’ marriage may be registered under the mother’s maiden name.
  • Some children were registered as "male" or "female" if a name had not been selected before registration.
  • Look for variant spellings of the names. Surnames are often found under unexpected spellings.
  • You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names.
  • A person may have been registered under a different name than he or she used later in life.
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Don't overlook FHL Place England items or FHL Keyword England items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see England Archives and Libraries.
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Don't overlook FHL Place Wales items or FHL Keyword Wales items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see Wales Archives and Libraries.

Related Websites

Related Wiki Articles

How You Can Contribute

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.

Citations for This Collection

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information; that is, cite your sources. This will help people find the record again and evaluate the reliability of the source. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records. Citations are available for the collection as a whole and each record or image individually.

Collection Citation:

“England & Wales Birth Index, 1837-2008.” Database. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2015. Citing FindMyPast.com. Brightsolid Online Publishing Limited England.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for England and Wales, Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008.


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  • This page was last modified on 24 August 2015, at 19:57.
  • This page has been accessed 17,955 times.