Birth, Marriage and Death Records 1837-2005

Usually shortened to just "BMD", these will give you a summary of births, marriages and deaths throughout England and Wales from 1837 to 2005 - which is the most recent year available.

When a birth, marriage or death is registered a certificate is filled out and the information is kept on file and added to the summary register, or Index, of all the events. As in books, the Indexes won't tell you everything, but will give you key information, such as names, dates (specifically quarters) and places (the district the event occurred). They also give you all the references you need to discover more - in this case, order a certificate.

What can the BMD Indexes tell me?

You can get so much from a single line of text. First, there's the excitement of finally tracking down your ancestor. You can discover basic details about them, as well as attach the official record to their entry in your family tree.

You can also use certain information to discover even more about your family history. For example, if an ancestor was born after 1911, you will find their mother's maiden name - which is essential for tracing her birth and marriage. You will also discover where they were born.

Sample records: [+] Click to magnify


A brief history of the BMD Indexes

The formal registration of births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales began on 1st July 1837 with the introduction of Civil Registration. Before this, each individual parish was responsible for maintaining their own Parish register - so for events before 1837, check our Parish Records.

While Civil Registration was meant to bring all birth, marriage and death information together in one place, it's important to know that registration was only made compulsory by law in 1875. So if you can't find your pre-1875 ancestors here, this could be why.

Search our BMD Index collection

There are different BMD Index collections to search, depending on what period in history you're searching. Using the right collection will help you get a better search result.

For any births, marriages or deaths before 1837, you should be searching through the Parish Registers, which you can find in our Parish Records collection. If you're looking for births, marriages or deaths between 1837 and 1915 search the FreeBMD collections. There are separate birth and marriage collections for the years 1837-2005, and for deaths between 1984 and 2005. Searching's easier with these records because you'll be given individual matches to your search. For deaths between 1837 and 1983, however, your search will take you to an individual Index page, where you can then search for your ancestor's details. In order to get the most relevent results it's useful to have the full name of the individual you're searching for, a rough date of the event and the place it occured.

What's my next step?

To help you go further back in your family history, you can order a birth, marriage or death certificate direct from us. This will give you additional vital information - for instance, a birth certificate will tell you the date and place of birth, father's name and occupation and more. Click on the trolley icon once you've found your result in the indexes.

Which famous people could I meet?

Alfred Hitchcock. Born 13 August 1899. The master of suspense, Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone, London and was the youngest of three children. In a career spanning six decades he directed more than fifty feature films - including the chilling "Psycho" and the masterful "North by Northwest" - and was nominated five times for Best Director at the Oscars.

Winston Churchill. Married his lifelong love on 12 September 1908. A Member of Parliament for over half a century, Churchill was twice elected Prime Minister. Best known as an inspirational wartime leader, he was also a Nobel laureate and national icon. But he wouldn't have been the same man without his darling Clementine.

Florence Nightingale. Died 13 August 1910. Born in Florence, Italy, the woman who is best known as "The Lady with the Lamp" was named after the city of her birth. She was given her famous name because of her work caring for soldiers injured during the Crimean War. She died, aged 90, in 1910.

I'm new to all this. What do I do first?

Start building your family tree

First include all the information you already know about yourself and your immediate family. To help you every step of the way, we automatically search through our records for potential matches - and give you results in seconds.

Search and attach records

There are billions of records worldwide - but searching for ancestors isn't like looking for a needle in a haystack. We'll help you search quickly and accurately. And you can attach your records to your family tree to help bring it to life.

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