I’m going to dispel some illusions for people who aren’t aware of what can be gained from a birth, marriage or death look up at the Record Office.
Baptisms, marriages and burials CAN
be checked at the Liverpool Record Office
so long as you have the correct information to find the entry, births and deaths CAN’T
be. Read on.BAPTISMS
– check the IGI
or OPC site
to see if you can find an appropriate entry. Remember that babies weren’t always baptised within the first few weeks or months of births, sometimes a few years went by and a few siblings were “done” at the same time to save money. Baptisms IF YOU HAVE THE CHURCH to be checked might reveal one or both parents names, sometimes an address and sometimes even the father’s occupation, although these last two are rare.BURIALS
– you need to know where your ancestor died to be able to try to work out where they might be buried. There are several links to sites with Burials, Graves and Monumental Inscriptions
for you to check and some Cemetery Plans
These sites are often work in progress by volunteers so are far from comprehensive lists.
If your ancestors were Roman Catholic there is a set of microfiche in the Record Office identifying burials in the three main cemeteries Ford, Yew Tree and Ainsdale 1859 - 1989 and the plot records.
If you know the cemetery and are lucky enough to get a look up you might get to discover who owned the plot and who else is buried in it – unfortunately the grave might be a general one and so won’t have a headstone.MARRIAGES
are often easier to find and to look up since Parish Registers are held in the Record Office. Once again check the Family Search
or Online Parish Clerk site
sites, additionally a great site is LancashireBMD
as hopefully, this will give the church where the marriage took place and the year. You will then need to cross-reference with the GRO indexes to narrow down the date to a particular quarter of a year to save searching a whole year of the Register.
If you are considering asking for a Record Office look up, please ensure that you have the church, year and quarter that the marriage took place. NOTE that a marriage cannot be looked up from the GRO index information only, these details are used to order the certificate from the GRO which you can do online at http://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/
Ensure that you check the new pricing and services available at http://www.ips.gov.uk
Unfortunately, using the LancashireBMD site, you may often find that the marriage took place “Register Office or Registrar Attended”. This might
mean that it was in a Register Office, but it might also mean that it took place in a Roman Catholic or Non-Conformist Church, then it’s down to you yet again to try to figure out which church might have been the nearest to where they lived.
There’s a fairly comprehensive list of RC Churches
here and you might be lucky in finding an RC marriage listed on the Liverpool History Projects
where you could order a copy of the Parish Register.BIRTH AND DEATH
look ups are what are often requested but there is one way ONLY
of getting details from a birth or death certificate and that is by purchasing the certificate. To do this you need to have either the quarter, year and reference from the GRO index and place an order – online is easiest at the GRO
. The alternative is to find the entry on LancashireBMD
, click the reference at the end, print out the form already partially completed for you and post it off with your cheque to the local Register Office. See the site for prices and http://www.ips.gov.uk
for those ordered from the GRO.
The reference checking facility at the GRO is no longer available, however, an enquiry direct to the local Register Office is often more helpful. Sometimes the delivery times are a little longer however, although this varies as does the charges. Some Register Offices are now charging for same day return, while others will reply the same day without any extra charge.
Costs for ordering certificates from the Liverpool Register Office
and the link to Certificates
give the address to send your application to and also a facility to download a form to pay by Debit or Credit Card. This should be much better for anybody not living in England as it will save the need for a Bankers Draft to be produced.ADDED
- very important
The birth indexes on all sites that have them available have included the mother's maiden name POST 1912, however in the last months of 2016 the GRO site have included the mother's maiden name for the years 1837-1912 exclusively on their own site, where you need to register, which is free to do, and then once logged in you will find this search of great benefit in ascertaining the parents names. http://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/
Also they have now added the Age at Death to their death search, this was not included on any other site for years 1837-1866.My attempt to explain the differences between the GRO indexes and the local Registers
Birth, marriage and death registrations were entered locally and then each quarter a copy of the registers were sent to the General Register Office. They were collected in Southport from everywhere in the country and compiled into an alphabetical index - this index for the whole of England and Wales is what you look at when you you search "the indexes" either on microfiche at your library, local LDS Centre or Record Office. This same index is available on many online sites, including the sites I mentioned above, also the Genealogist and Genesreunited and possibly others, including the free site where they are transcribed http://www.freebmd.org.uk/
Because the names are collected together, to order a certificate from the GRO the reference from these indexes is is required in order to identify which district the ceremony took place and the page number. Often as the details were taken from a register with either two or four couples on a page, there might be a certain amount of guesswork involved to decide if it is the correct entry you need.
The LancashireBMD site is part of a national transcription project, many counties take part in this. Transcriptions that are uploaded to this site have been taken from the local registers. The beauty of these is that sometimes in the case of births additional information is given, eg mother's maiden name, age at death, and the marriages are matched bride and groom and the Church is noted where possible.
A Church of England minister was also a Registrar which is how the Registers are able to be noted with the church, unfortunately marriages held in a Roman Catholic Church, and possibly some other non conformist churches, required a Registrar to be present and so these marriages are noted as "Register Office or Registrar Attended". In these cases, although the benefit of bride and groom identification is there, it is not possible to identify the church. LancashireBMD
isn’t as useful for births as it is for marriages, with the exception at present of the Preston area which seems to include the mother’s maiden name on nearly all of their entries. However, if you were to specify the parents names, including mother's maiden name, on the Application Form, they will only issue the certificate if the details match. They will often refund your money in full if your application doesn't match.
If you contact a local
Register Office with the year of the event and name, even if the entry isn't yet on the LancashireBMD site, they will often search for you, including one year either side of your requested date - a stamped addressed envelope for the return of the certificate is usually very welcome.
Age at death is given on the LancashireBMD site more often than it is in the GRO Indexes, but you must remember that it is transcribed by volunteers, so don’t expect all years to be complete – check the Coverage Page to see if the years you are interested in have any missing.
GRO Indexes for Births, Marriages and Deaths are available to search at FreeBMD
This has almost the same database as those searchable on subscription sites, eg Ancestry
but often worth checking both as one will be uploaded before the other and I don’t know how but sometimes Ancestry has entries that FreeBMD doesn’t. FindMyPast
, The Genealogist
, Genes Reunited
and probably others also have the indexes (again subscription required).
Most of my suggestions for searching the indexes have concentrated on where they are available online, but of course they are also available at Record Offices and libraries
with a Family History section, throughout the country. They can also be ordered from your local LDS Centre, a list of which can be searched for your nearest centre anywhere in the world here.
The Lancashire sites are obviously specifically for the county we are most interested in – other counties have some databases of their own, check UKBMD
to see what might be available in other areas.
Ancestry is invaluable for Liverpool Records as they have now both indexed and uploaded many baptism, marriage and burial records for RC, C of E, Non Conformist and Quaker records for Liverpool and also a number of other Counties also.
Remember that Civil Registration did not begin until September quarter, 1837 so no certificates are available before that time. Marriages and baptisms were obviously performed in churches but the registers had less information, marriages for example may have stated whether the bride and groom were "of this parish" or elsewhere, sometimes an occupation was given and witnesses were frequently church members who witnessed many of the services.