UK Birth, Marriage and Death Indexes

Introducing the Indexes

The formal registration of Birth, Marriages and Deaths in England and Wales began on 1st July 1837 with the introduction of Civil Registration. Prior to this date, each individual parish was responsible for maintaining their own Parish register and you will need to consult the relevant records when you reach this far back in your family history research.

Whilst Civil Registration established standardization of the recording of Birth, Marriages and Deaths (commonly referred to as BMD) there are two useful facts worth knowing.

1. Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths was only made compulsory in 1875, nearly 40 years after the introduction of Civil Registration. This gives rise to the possibility that you may not be able to locate your ancestor in the indexes.

2. The Indexes are a collation of primary birth, marriages and deaths information. Whilst they aren’t the same as birth, marriage and death certificates in terms of the depth of information they can provide, they are however an important research aid for reasons explained below.


Why Use the Indexes?

The Indexes have many uses. Here are just 3 of their main benefits:

  • For ordering Birth, Marriage and Death certificates-the Indexes contain key information regarding an individual’s recorded first and family names, registration district and Volume information you’ll need when ordering a certificate
  • For obtaining details of maiden and parental names-dependent record type and year. For example, in 1912 the Marriage Indexes added maiden name and married name if previously married as well as including the surname of the spouse
  • For identifying exact year and quarter of birth, marriage or death, this can be vitally important when using Census records.


Structure of the Indexes-what you should know

Two important changes occurred to the BMD Indexes in 1984.

-Annual indexing replaced the previous convention of quarterly indexes (once every 3 months) which had been in place since the start of Civil Registration in 1837

-Paper based indexes were replaced by digital based Indexes. For this reason there are no images associated with any birth, marriages or deaths registered from 1984 to 2004, the last of the available index years.


Using the Indexes on Ancestry.com.au

Complete BMD Indexes 1837-1983

These are fully complete for the years 1837-1983. Results are returned by name range (based on first and last names on the page) and search will take you to the relevant Index page upon which you ancestor will appear. For example searching for Thomas Jackson, March 1875 in Birth Indexes would return the following result:


Select the View image option and locate your searched ancestor on the page:

Partial FreeBMD Indexes 1837-1983

Whilst this isn’t a full set of Indexes for 1837 to 1983, it is generally complete to around 1912. After this you’ll need to use the Complete BMD record set to locate your ancestors. Since this set is transcribed, you’ll always return a named individual match when searching this collection:

Partial FreeBMD

Selecting View Record will take you to a record page for your searched ancestor, similar to the one below:


From there you have a number of save and attach options available to you from this window.

Complete BMD Indexes 1984-2004

Whilst there are no images available after 1984, this set is fully transcribed, ensuring you’ll return individual search results matches:


Selecting View Record will take you to a record page for your searched ancestor, similar to the one below:


Once again you have a number of save and attach options available to you from this window.


Further Help & Links

Search the UK Birth, Marriages and Deaths Indexes
Connect with Other Ancestry Members on Birth, Marriage and Death Indexes
Back to Learning Centre home page



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