Civil Registration Records
The following information refers to searching for Birth, Marriage and Death records where those events have taken place within England or Wales. To research events in Scotland and Ireland you can find guidance by clicking on the FAQs on the right.
On the 1st July 1837, the General Register Office for England and Wales (GRO) was set up to record every birth, death and marriage. Local Register Offices were opened nationwide to record all of the events occurring in a local authority district. These records are known as the Civil Registration Records, familiar to everyone as Birth, Marriage and Death certificates.
This date also introduced the Civil Marriage where the ceremony was performed by a Registrar in a Register Office as an alternative to a vicar in a church. Church of England and Church in Wales marriages still took place, but the law also changed at this time for religious denominations such as the Roman Catholics, Methodists and Baptists etc. They were now allowed to register their buildings of worship in order to perform marriages and were therefore legally free to marry according to their own religious beliefs. At every quarterly interval in the year, the growing numbers of churches, along with the local Register Offices were required to duplicate their records and send these copies to the head office at GRO.
Two sets of unrelated indexes therefore exist for civil registration records.
- The local Register Office Index. Each Register Office has its own set of indexes, relating only to its district. The majority of these are handwritten or typed booklets dating from 1837 to the mid 1980s. Local civil registration indexes have only been computerised from the mid 1980s onwards.
- The GRO Index (often referred to as the St Catherine’s Index because the whole collection was formerly housed at St Catherine’s House in London) lists every birth, marriage and death that has occurred in England and Wales since 1st July 1837. Any index reference is only useful to you if you intend to purchase your birth, marriage or death certificate from GRO’s Head Office at Southport. They are indexed by Quarters within a year i.e. January, February and March are the March Quarter; April, May and June are the June Quarter and so on.
Therefore, if you are looking for records registered on or after the 1st
July 1837, because these records exist in duplicate, they can be purchased at set fees from either:-
1. Local Register Office
- the local Register Office where the event took place or
- the General Register Office which is now situated in Southport
To search for certificates that may be held at Blackpool Register Office, click on the FAQ How do I search and apply for birth, marriage and death certificates from Blackpool Register Office?
You can apply for certificates from Blackpool Register Office by clicking on Copy Certificates
Use this Directgov
link to search for a Register Office.
2. General Register Office
To search for certificates held at the General Register Office, click on the FAQ: How do I search the GRO Index and then apply for birth, marriage and death certificates?
See also the FAQ: What information is shown on the GRO Index?
You can apply for certificates from GRO’s online certificate ordering service