©2013 by Donald R. Snow

Sections of the Class Notes Return to the Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page or Don's Class Listings Page .  This page was last updated 2013-06-10.

  1. Instructors are Donald R. Snow ( ) of Provo and St. George, Utah and his daughter Linda Snow Westover ( ) of Orem, Utah.
  2. These notes are posted on with all the links, so you don't have to type them in yourself.  Hold down the Ctrl key when you click on a link and the link opens in another tab so you keep these notes open where you were.
  3. This class is to describe the basic databases of British family history research, Civil Registration, Censuses, and Church Records (Parish Records).  We will discuss each type of record, how to search them, and how to use these records together.
  4. More information on most of these topics is in other sets of notes on Don's class notes page .  Search for the term you want by clicking on the CLICK HERE link at the top of the class notes page.


  6. Civil Registration started in England and Wales in July 1837 due to an act of Parliament to register all births, marriage, and deaths with the government.  These vital events were registered at local register offices and then sent to the General Register Office (GRO) in London 4 times a year.  You can request birth, marriage, and death certificates through the GRO or through the County Record Offices.  Churches also recorded many of these same events, but that is not civil registration.  You can learn more of the historical background at .
  7. BMD (Birth, Marriage, and Death) volumes
    1. Each county in England and Wales kept BMD records and sent copies to London yearly which were entered by hand in large hardcopy volumes until 1984 when they were entered into a computer system
    2. The hardcopy 1837-1983 BMD volumes were available to the public until 27 Oct 2007 when they were put in storage at the National Archives at Kew Gardens, Richmond, Greater London --
    3. Digitized images are now available online at several websites
  8. FreeBMD website -- 
    1. FreeBMD is a volunteer effort begun in 1998 to transcribe the hardcopy BMD index volumes and post the data online for free -- not made from original BMD, but from the old index volumes
    2. FreeBMD currently has more than 229 million distinct records (May 2013) and estimates the entire transcribing project will be completed by September 2013 -- see ) -- That's this year!
  9. Searching FreeBMD -- see search suggestions on the FAQ's at
    1. Select search type:  All Types (of events), or Births, or Deaths, or Marriages and options
    2. Enter as little information as possible to identify the individual and only add more information when you get too many hits -- Reason is that search terms even slightly different from the way it occurs in the database will cause that hit to be missed -- Can also narrow the search by Exact Match or Phonetic Search -- default is non-exact on given names and exact on surnames
  10. Results include Event (B, M, or D), Quarter of the Year, and several other items
    1. Event date is by quarter only:  Mar Qtr (Jan, Feb, or Mar), Jun Qtr (Apr, May, or Jun), Sep Qtr (Jul, Aug, or Sep), Dec Qtr (Oct, Nov, or Dec) -- can record these as "Apr-Jun 1864" -- Note:  events, especially births, may be recorded in later quarters than when the event occurred.
    2. Reg District is a link and clicking on it takes you to information about that Registration District -- Reg Districts usually include many civil (and ecclesiastical) parishes -- See  for listing of all Reg Districts in England and Wales (1837-1974) and what civil parishes and townships were included in each -- To find the Registration District of a parish go to the FamilySearch Interative Map at 
    3. Page number is a link and clicking on it gives you a list of all event entries in that Reg District on that page in the index -- can use this to get the spouse's name in a marriage since it shows names of all people (usually less than 6 or 8 people) indexed on that page as married so one of the opposite sex there must be the spouse; can use a census or other record to determine which one it is
    4. INFO icon has information about transcription of that entry
    5. GLASSES icon opens information and a button to see the original image that was transcribed
    6. Can download the search results with all the information or else use a screen capture program
  11. VIEW IMAGES button has most of the original index page images from 1837 up through 1935, even those not yet indexed
  12. FreeBMD does NOT include the certificates nor all the data on them -- can get the exact date and more data by ordering a certificate from the General Record Office (GRO), but that costs about $14US; can order certificates from the County Record Office which is usually cheaper -- see ; can sometimes find exact info from parish registers and even the extracted records in the old IGI (International Genealogical Index) which is now available on Genealogies in FamilySearch


  13. Good descriptions and links at and
  14. Censuses are surveys taken to count the people; UK censuses were every 10 years starting in 1801, but not by name until 1841, and are not made public until after 100 years in UK, so 1911 UK census released in 2011 is latest available to public
  15. Censuses give a "snapshot" of family, parents, children, others living in household, and occupations at the time; may show relationships, other children you didn't know about, wife's maiden name, and may lead to other records; censuses over time show migration of the family
  16. UK census indexes and forms online
    1. Indexes on FamilySearch are at or under Historical Records at -- The camera icon in front means images are available besides the index, but you may not be able to see them for free without being in an FHC.
    2. Indexes and images complete on subscription site , available for free at FHC's on the FHC Portal. 
    3. Indexes, but not all images, are on subscription site , available for free at FHC's on the FHC Portal.
    4. Forms on
    5. Indexes and links at
    6. A helpful chart of UK censuses is at
    7. Can save links to censuses in your Source Box in Family Tree, directly if from FamilySearch and using Tree Connect if from elsewhere
  17. Censuses are useful to find descendants from your ancestors by finding children's names and approximate birthdates, then using FreeBMD to find who and when they married, etc.


  19. There are many kinds of church records, but we will only consider Parish Registers and Bishop's Transcripts here -- these are chronological entries of christening, marriage, and death records and were started in England in 1538 when the Church of England split from the Catholic Church; Bishop's Transcripts are copies of the entries from the parishes (congregations) each year and sent to the Bishop and copied into Bishop's Transcript books
  20. Reference book "Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers" by Cecil R. Humphery-Smith (latest revision and publication 2010) is a listing and maps of all parishes in the UK, where the Parish Registers and Bishop's Transcripts are now, and which have been the filmed, etc. -- very helpful and is NOT online anywhere, but much of that information is now on the FamilySearch Wiki 
  21. On FamilySearch the online and indexed UK Parish Registers and Bishop's Transcripts are found under FamilySearch > Search > United Kingdom and Ireland (at bottom of page) > then filter on Birth, Marriage, and Death or else go to the list directly at
  22. Not all Parish Registers and Bishop's Transcripts have been filmed and many that have been filmed are not indexed online yet; these are  all listed in the FamilySearch Catalog under [location] > Church Records; there may be indexes in book form which have been filmed and will help locate chronological entries until FamilySearch Indexing does the original register; also knowing approximate dates and locations from FreeBMD and/or censuses helps narrow down the search in records not yet indexed
  23. Many millions of names from early UK Parish Registers were indexed ("extracted") and put into the old IGI and those are now available on FamilySearch under Records -- type in "IGI" (without the quotes) to get to the set -- The IGI is now in two sets of records, (1) Community Contributed and (2) Community Indexed.  The Community Indexed set contains the extracted records and is searchable by name and by batch number and helps in finding families.  See more details about searching the IGI by batch number in some of Don's other class notes.


  25. Using these three databases back and forth can solve many British research questions in the time periods these cover.
  26. Good description and links to indexes and UK records at .
  27. This only scratches the surface of using these databases and there are many additional tips and tricks and many tutorials online and in Don's other class notes at . We hope you have a better understanding of how to use them.

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