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May 20, 2009

Ordering English Certificates of Birth, Marriage or Death online

Recently I searched for the marriage record of my great great grandfather Charles Fuller who married Georgiana Golding in or near Lenham, Kent England. I was hoping to find out who Georgiana's father was since she is recorded in the Lenham Church Registers as being the daughter of "the widow Hannah Golding" Since I knew from previous research that Hannah Golding's husband had died 4 years before Georgiana's birth he was not the father! But who was?

In the census years after her birth Georgiana was always recorded with the surname Golding so her marriage registration was my last (slim) hope of finding out who her father was. Perhaps it was a dead end, perhaps Georgiana never knew her father's name but I had to turn that stone to find out!

The General Register Office for England and Wales website has an online form where you can order Birth, Death and Marriage Registrations.

The first time you use the site you must register but it is free and easy. After that you do not need to register each time, you just log in using your email address and password.

After logging in (or registering) you will see a screen with choices as to what certificate you wish to order

There are 10 - the first 6 for events registered in England or Wales. They are Birth, Marriage, Civil Partnership, Death, Adoption and Commenorative Marriage Certificate

The last 4 choices are for overseas events that were registered with British authorities. The choices are Birth, Marriage, Death or Civil Partnership Certificate

Next you are asked if you know the General Register office index and the year when the event was registered. NOTE: You must have the GRO index for England & Wales Birth, Marriage, Death before 1900. So you need to go to FreeBMD website or Free BMD index. This is where you will, with any luck, find your ancestor and the details you need to order the certificate.

FreeBMD is being indexed by volunteers from 1837-1983 and this index is then passed on to where it is also available for free.

Once you check the radio button for knowing the GRO index, you are taken to a screen where you fill out your delivery address details. If you have registered previously, this information is already there next time you log in! A very nice feature.

The next screen is where you fill out your information, including the details you found on the Free Bmd website (GRO index reference information)

You also get to choose what kind of delivery service you want either Standard or Priority (higher priced)

The GRO Reference Information that is required is

District name
Volume Number
Page Number

All of this is obtainable from the FreeBMD website or website free BMD index (if you find your ancestor there).

Searching the marriages on Free BMD I had a hit!
Marriages Dec 1858
Surname First name(s) District Vol Page

Fuller Charles Hollingbourne 2a 788

Clicking on "788" (the page) brings up a list of all brides and grooms on that page, usually only 4 names. So you can easily see if this is the correct index entry for your ancestors (providing you know both parties names, or at least one full name and one first name for the second party)

Clicking showed me Georgiania's name along with Charles so I now knew the GRO index details needed to order their marriage registration. This is what I needed:
Year 1858
Quarter Dec. 1858
District Hollingbourne
Vol 2a
Page 788

After logging in to GRO website I filled out my required information and sat back to wait. Within 3 weeks the marriage registration arrived in the mail. I was quite excited to open the envelope and see what it said, but reminded myself I should not get my hopes up.

It seemed most likely that Georgiana never knew her father and so that part of the certificate would be blank. Or, as I have seen on other marriage registrations I've ordered when the individual is an illegitimate birth, the father's first name would be given, but no surname!

To my surprise and delight, Georgiana's father was named in full. His occupation was also given. I now had enough information to start my quest for her father. But that is another blog post.....


The Grandmother Here said...

Three weeks. Good to know. I came across the place to order certificates while on and ordered death certificates for my great great great grandparents hoping to find their parents' names. This is fun!

Ros Bott said...

Great find. Marriage certificates are extremely useful for establishing father's names - but you were lucky in this case as often if there was illegitimacy the father's name would be left blank. You have to be careful, though. My grandfather put his father's name as John Manley - but it was only later that I discovered that this was his adoptive father - his real father was a John McEwen.
If you live in the UK the certificates usually only take a week to arrive.

The Grandmother Here said...

Good news and bad news. Good news -- the certificates came in a week and a half! Bad news -- no parents' names on a British death certificate. More good news -- a daughter was the informant and that confirms that the family I found in the 1841 census was the correct family! I love this game!!