Guide to English Vital Records
November 12, 2018
England has a long and colorful history, and many of Americans can trace their roots back to this small island. Many may find it daunting researching records from a different country, but this guide is here to help you navigate you through the vital records available to help you track down your forefathers.
Records for Wales, Scotland and Ireland are not included in this guide – this guide focuses solely on records for England.
Civil registration began in 1837 in England and Wales. This meant that all births, marriages and deaths had to be reported to the local registrar, who would then pass on the information to the General Register Office. Although the actual certificates are not available to view online, there are extensive indexes readily available on Ancestry, FindMyPast and FamilySearch.
Birth indexes are separated into different sets –
- England & Wales Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
- Maiden names of mother are not included in the index on Ancestry, FMP, or FamilySearch. Maiden names can be found only on the General Register Office Index website.
- England & Wales Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2007
- Maiden names of mothers are listed on the 1916-2007 index on all sites.
Both sets of indexes will include the full name of the child, the area office where their birth was registered, year and quarter (Jan-Feb-Mar, Apr-May-Jun, Jul-Aug-Sep and Oct-Nov-Dec). New parents have up to 42 days after the baby is born to register a birth. This can explain why sometimes a child who is known to have been born in June can be found listed as a Jul-Aug-Sep baby.
An example of a civil registration birth certificate (in PDF form from the GRO) is this birth record for my 3x Great-Grandmother Hannah Amelia Dare from 1855.
Prior to civil registration beginning, births were not routinely recorded. However, baptisms and christenings were. These baptism records were recorded into large volumes at the local churches and these can go back several hundred years. Many baptism records include the date of baptism, the actual date of birth, parent’s names and sometimes the address they were living at.
An example of an early baptism record is seen below in the baptism record of my 5x Great-Grandfather and his twin sister on 10th February 1786 at St Mary’s Church, Rotherhithe, London.
Another example of an early baptism record is that of my 4x Great-Grandfather Thomas Hussey from 1823. A standardized form started being used in some of the churches and this included the profession of the father, area of residence and the name of the person who performed the ceremony.
Many of these baptism records are available online on the aforementioned genealogy sites and will be grouped together by the County they were performed in (although it will list the church and town). FindMyPast and Ancestry both have different baptism records, so it is important to check both sites.
As with birth records, civil registration marriage indexes are available online.
- England & Wales Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1916
- Entries do not include name of spouse.
- England & Wales Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005
- Entries include full name of person, last name of spouse, district of where marriage took place, as well as volume and page number.
Marriage Banns are an extremely useful resource. Marriage banns were notices that announced a couple’s intention to marry. These notices were posted outside of churches for 3 Sundays before the wedding. This would give ample time for any person to object the marriage on possible legal grounds e.g. previous marriage not having been dissolved.
Early marriage banns included the details of the engaged couple, the date and location of the wedding and the witnesses, as seen below in the 1774 Marriage Bann of my 6x Great-Grandparents Benjamin Edghill and Mary Macey.
As time moved on, more details began to be included on the Banns. This Marriage Bann is from 1892 when my Great-Great-Grandparents, William Torrance and Emily Medhurst were married. As you can see, many more details have been added, including the couple’s age, their professions, residence at time of marriage, father’s names and professions.
Not all county and city marriage banns are available to view online but can be found at archives around the country (see section on repositories).
Civil Registration Death records follow the same time period indexes as birth and marriage. Both sets of indexes contain the same information: name, approximate age, approximate birth date/year, location and quarterly date of death.
An example of a civil registration death certificate (in PDF form from GRO) is that of my 3x Great-Grandfather James Dugdale Edghill from 1909.
Burial records are a useful tool for finding a death date before civil registration records. They have the added bonus of telling you where your ancestor was laid to rest. As with other church records (baptisms and marriage banns), the burial records are categorized to the county or city the event took place in. Ancestry and FMP have many different counties in their catalog.
Institutions such as hospitals, prisons and workhouses also kept their own detailed burial registers.
My Great-Great Grandfather Frederick Donoghue died in the infirmary of the St George workhouse in London, and his burial was recorded in their register.
Deceased Online is a large database of UK burial and cremation records. Searches are free, but for a small fee, you can get access to cemetery maps and digital scans of burial and cremation registers.
The Burial Register Scan for my Great-Great-Grandfather Henry John Donald is seen below.
For the civil registration vital records I have covered above, the easiest and most cost effective way to order them is to go through the General Register Office website.
The GRO also began a PDF service for Births 1837-1917 and Deaths 1837-1957. For a reduced cost, they will email you a PDF version of the certificate you request. However, it is important to note that this will not be a certified certificate and so cannot be used for official purposes.
The National Archives in Kew, Surrey holds one of the largest collections of genealogical records. Their website has many of their collections available to view online, as well as useful guides covering a wide range of records they hold. You can also order record copies from them,and make use of their paid research service. All details can be found HERE.
Most counties and cities in England have their own Genealogical or Historical Societies. If you are looking for a particular record set, or have questions about the area, contact these societies! They are often very happy to help out with research,or advise you.
I hope this guide helps those of you are trying to discover your English ancestors! Stay tuned for future blog posts detailing other record sets unique to England.
Becky Zoglmann is an English Genealogist who now resides in Georgia with her family and small army of rescue animals. She specializes in English records and has a passion for Victorian London. She is the owner of RJZ Genealogy and is the Content Coordinator for NextGen. Find her online at RJZ Genealogy, Facebook and Instagram.
The Hispanic Connection
November 7, 2018
HISPANICS? How long have they really been in the United States? Do they belong just like the majority of the rest of the people in this country? These are questions that seem to cross someone’s mind in today’s political dilemmas. Perhaps they don’t truly understand the history and roots behind the Hispanic culture.
Who’s fault is it? Let us begin with the school system. Clearly, U.S. schools will talk about their history first and foremost before anything else. It is the victor history that matters. But if we truly reflected on the history and genealogy of the Hispanic population we will be amazed that indeed they were here first before the pilgrims and many of U.S customs and foods come from what they created and their legacy still lives today in the American culture.
The core of any Hispanic, and it is proven with a simple DNA test, is that they are part Native American. Of course, they are! The natives were here first before the Spanish arrival of the Conquistadores. Natives roamed North/South America and the Caribbean. They were a large population each with their unique niche of culture and traditions, but nevertheless, they were still related and cousins in the Americas.
The Spanish Arrival changed everything. The Spanish were mesmerized by the cities, customs and especially the gold that was in abundance. Their eyes shined to see that such precious gem was underappreciated by the natives and used for decor and not as equally important in value as it were to the Spanish. That became one of their goals, to obtain such riches but first, they had to settle and conquer the natives which was no easy feat.
Challenges, struggles, battles and ultimately the defeat of the Aztec empire in Mexico City and surrounding regions were reasons to celebrate their newly claimed territory which did not come easy. The Queen of Spain was angered originally by the treatment of the natives. They were also having sexual relations with the natives, so she then declared that they must respect the natives, teach them the gospel and gave them permission to marry and reproduce as they pleased under Catholic tradition and rules.
The Spanish brought innovation, new ideas and technology:: the Spanish language, wheat, barley sugar cane, farming and unloaded animals such as horses, pigs, goats, chickens and cows. The natives learned farming techniques and how to use farming tools such as plows. They helped the natives build more durable homes. The soldiers brought weapons that allowed them to more easily hunt.
Due to all this the first original cowboy originated. Many of the cowboy’s wear and terms are still used today in the Anglo American Cowboy culture. Early Mexican techniques & words for handling cattle can be seen/heard throughout the modern livestock industry, like whenever a cowboy cinches a saddle on his horse, straps on chaps (from chaparreras, Spanish for leather leggings), competes in a rodeo (from rodear, Spanish for to surround), or ropes a horse from his remuda (from remudar, Spanish for exchange). Branding migrated from Mexico. On the Pacific Coast and on Nevada ranches, buckaroos (from the word vaquero) still carry long ropes (nylon these days), ride slick-fork saddles, and use silver-mounted spade bits and spurs.
Hence, 500 years later here we are from the initial Spanish arrival in 1492. We have coexisted for this long and thrive today. We are of different shades of brown, some of us reflecting the native and others looking just like our Spanish Pioneers ancestors. We are “mestizos” of a mixed heritage that connects the old with the new world.
States like Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, Florida etc. were all under Spanish and Mexican rule at one point. Slowly the Spanish territory started to minimize when the U.S. colonies saw best to expand to the west. Needless to say, for many Spanish and Mestizos their culture stayed intact for those whose territory ceded to the U.S. Today, you see a richness of culture and pride grasping strong to their Native and Spanish roots.
After the Mexican-American War and even before that in Spanish Texas, many people of Anglo descent mixed with Mexican families and today you see a vast number of families that share both cultures and heritage. Our mutual Mexican and Anglo ancestors intermingled then and intermingle today. Many people are proud of this mixed heritage as well.
The Hispanic rich history has deeply impacted the genealogy community and the influx of Family Search & Ancestry members. Many enthusiasts have been tracing their roots for more than 20+ years and have a vast and luscious tree to show off. Many have connected to royalty, to African roots, to their Jewish roots, Anglo ancestors and so forth. It is an overwhelming joy to know how far they have come in the past 500 years.
FamilySearch and Ancestry have been the epitome of the treasure of their findings for many researchers. They do not need to make expensive trips abroad to find their roots if they don’t have to. As we know research is a painstaking task. Spanish Colonial documents are wonderful once the individual gets a hold of the nitty gritty way of doing things. They must pay attention to the abbreviations, and learn the different cursive writings used in each century which is the hardest thing of all if you ask me. The abbreviations are repetitive and the documents flow like a prayer since the Catholic church was so stern in perfection. In such documents you will find plenty of information to grow your family tree; parents and grandparents names are included. What a beauty to see such names flourish, it will take the Hispanic individual a further step back to the next generation. Many times it will tell the researcher what part of Spain they originated from and if they are lucky, what native tribe they are from. As for me, with all the records I have found, I have one proven lineage that originated from the Apaches, for it stated my 9th great-grandfather who was Apache from the northern frontier of New Spain (currently Chihuahua state), circa 1790’s was adopted by a Portuguese family that settled in that area of New Spain, which is today Mexico.
Lest we forget that not only do Mexicans have Native and Spanish but also have an array of other ethnicities that came to New Spain/Mexico and called this their home as well::: Blacks, French, Irish, Middle Easterns, Greeks, Italians, Polish etc.
Genealogy is not easy or should be taken lightly and surely they shouldn’t throw the towel right away just because they get stuck. There are various ways to get the help they need if they are stuck and truly want to get beyond the brick wall.
They must join common Hispanic genealogy communities. Today, you will find a vast number of them online with business websites as well as Genealogy groups on Facebook.
There is one for every state, region and city if you look hard enough. The first I’d like to emphasize is MEXICAN GENEALOGY led by Mr. Moises Garza which I am a moderator for. He has a wonderful group of 7K members that are ready to help anyone with a translation and extra encouragement. A DNA match can quickly establish a relation to them and begin the conversation process, exchange of info and photos. “Mexican Genealogy strives to provide its readers with resources and tools to help them find their roots and ancestry”
The second group I’d like to recommend is one just started by Family Search volunteers just recently on Facebook and I also moderate in the group, it is called “Mexico and Central America Genealogy Research Community”. “This group was created to give people researching Mexico & Central America a place to ask questions, collaborate, and share research with one another”
I am excited to be a 2019 Ambassador for Rootstech this year! Spreading the word on what the genealogy community has done is exciting to share. I’d like to say congratulations to Rose Wischnewsky who won tickets recently through my contest to attend this amazing genealogy conference in Salt Lake this coming February. www.rootstech.org
Mexican genealogy is booming! As people discover their roots you will see more of a movement of pride as they discover their Native, Spanish and Mexican achievements and time of arrival. We are all on the same boat finding our roots so we can pass the valuable information to our younger generations, so they never forget who they are so they can move forward with a strong armor of esteem and pride toward the future. As humans we all deserve to know who we are, that in turn will help us understand each other better and more mutual respect will exist amongst all cultures.
I have various culture and history pages and groups on Facebook, one history group is called “New Spain and Mexico History”.
You can easily find me on Facebook, Twitter, & Linkedin as Cindy A. Medina. Thank you for me giving me the time to talk about Mexican History and Genealogy for this wonderful organization!
GRACIAS Y HASTA PRONTO AMIGOS! 🙂
Cindy A. Medina
OGS Webinar: Franco-Ontarians History & Genealogy
October 29, 2018
On the first Thursday of every month, the Ontario Genealogical Society hosts an education webinar. This month, Tammy Tipler-Priolo will be presenting a webinar entitled ‘ Franco-Ontarians History & Genealogy’. The presentation will begin at 7pm EST on November 1 and registration is required.
Tammy says “Franco-Ontarians have their roots deep within the lands called Ontario. Their proud heritage has been celebrated for hundreds of years. This lecture will cover the history of Francophones in Ontario, as well as what records are available to conduct genealogical research for this part of Ontario’s society today. Whether you can speak French or not does not matter, as once you learn the basics of French records you will see that it can be an enjoyable journey researching the Francophone past”.
Don’t miss out on this great opportunity: REGISTER HERE for Thursday’s webinar
NextGen welcomes Hereditary Society Outreach Coordinator
October 10, 2018
The NextGen Genealogy Network is pleased to welcome Kathleen Kaldis as our Hereditary Society Outreach Coordinator.
Kathleen worked at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and has served as a researcher and a genealogist within the Society. She has recently left NEHGS to start her independence research services business and is currently accepting clients. She has presented many lectures on various genealogical topics, and enjoys sharing her knowledge with individuals. She holds a Certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University’s Center for Professional Education and successfully completed the SLIG Advanced Evidence Practicum in 2018.
Kathleen is very active within the genealogy community. She serves on the board of the Massachusetts Genealogical Council (MGC) as their Federal Records Director. In 2015, she represented the MGC at the PBS Genealogy Roadshow in Boston, Providence, and Houston. She became a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 2010, and has enjoyed sharing her passion for genealogy building membership for the Society. She is a member of the Lexington DAR Chapter, and has served in many leadership positions within the Society at the national, state and chapter levels. During her tenure as Chapter Registrar in the Lexington Chapter, she volunteered her time actively researching lineages, gathering proof, and doing whatever it took to complete prospective member’s applications. Through her efforts and research contributions, the Lexington Chapter gained over a hundred members. She passed the DAR Genealogical Education Programs I, II, and III, and carries the title of NSDAR Volunteer Genealogist. She volunteers as a DAR Balcony Volunteer at the DAR Library every June for the DAR Continental Congress. In 2013 & 2016, she was the Massachusetts Daughters of the American Revolution Outstanding Volunteer Genealogist of the Year. She has conducted and participated in many genealogy workshops throughout the state for both prospective members of the DAR, and for the public wishing to learn about their lineages.