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Researching the indexes of births for England and Wales between 1837 and 2005 is necessary if you want to get hold of the birth certificates of ancestors born during this period. If you’re looking for births between 1837 and 1915, search the FreeBMD collections. There’s a separate birth collection for the years 1916-2005, but they’re both in the same place on our site and easy to find.
The indexes were intended to list all births but registration wasn’t compulsory until 1875. If your ancestor was born in 1844, for instance, and you just can’t find them, this could be why. However, try to consider the other reasons why you can’t find them – they might have been born in a different year or at a different location than you think – before giving up. For births before 1837 in the United Kingdom, check our parish records collections.
Birth indexes include the surname, first name, the year and quarter the event was recorded in, the registration district and the volume and page number where the birth certificate information is recorded at the General Register Office. After September 1911, birth indexes include the mother’s maiden name – once you have this, you can start searching for more information about her.
Using the information in the indexes, you can order the birth certificate of the individual, which will tell you the names of the parents, the date of birth, address of the birth, father’s occupation and date of registration. You can order the certificate through Ancestry.co.uk by clicking the trolley icon on the left when viewing the transcription.