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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
  • Images of original GRO Index pages from 1837 to 1983 can be viewed at These original GRO Index pages are indexed by the name range the page contains for the requested quarter year
  • Online index covering the period 1837 to 1901 provided by the Free Births, Marriages and Deaths Project at Their database is not yet complete and coverage varies considerably from year to year. Check their web site for latest progress.
  Microfiche Copies of GRO Master Indexes
  Obtaining Copies of Certificates
  • Costs £11.50 per certificate if ordering on the basis of full name and approximate date of death, marriage or death
  • Cost £8.50 if GRO index reference (year, quarter, registration district, volume, page) also provided. This charge is reduced to £7 if ordered online.
  • Can be ordered online at
  • Can be ordered by phone from the General Register Office on 0870 243 7788
  • Can be ordered by post from General Register Office at P.O. Box 2, Southport, Merseyside PR8 2JD
  • Can be ordered in person at the Family Record Centre or at the relevant District Register Office
This page last updated: 15 May 2006