When I first started researching my family genealogy online in 2006, FreeBMD was one of my favorite sites to try. FreeBMD offers a transcription of the GRO Index of Civil Registrations of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales from 1837 to 1983. These indexes are being transcribed by volunteers and they are approximately 60% complete.
FreeBMD: Search Birth, Marriage and Death Registrations for Free Online
By searching the transcribed GRO Index on FreeBMD you can potentially locate the birth, marriage or death listing for your ancestor. The information you find will allow you to submit a request for an official certificate of birth, marriage or death, from the GRO of England.
I have used the information I’ve found on FreeBMD to request actual copies of certificates for some of my ancestors in my family tree.
Here’s an example of a Certified Copy of An Entry of Death I requested in 2009.
Searching on FreeBMD is a quick way to locate the information you need to provide to the GRO, in order to request a certified copy of an entry of birth, marriage or death.
The information the GRO issued certificate provided was much more substantial because not only did it confirm her husband’s name and occupation which allowed me to be certain I had the right family in my census searches, it also confirmed the surname of one of her son-in-laws; opening up another line in the tree. It provided address information and death information too. To receive the certificate you do have to pay a fee to the GRO. Then you receive a copy of the certificate in the mail. The cost of ordering your certificates directly from the GRO is often less than the price you will be charged if you order it through an intermediary genealogy website online. So learning how to request it directly from the GRO is a smart idea since it can often save you money.
When you get to the page you will find a lot of great information, including information about how the GRO is organized into Quarters. The records will fall into Quarters of March, June, September and December but this is not the month the event actually took place, this is when the event was registered. March includes registrations received in January, February and March; June includes April, May and June; September includes July, August and September and December includes October, November and December. Often events were not registered immediately, like for example births which can be registered months after they took place.
You can even volunteer to help FreeBMD transcribe the original transcribed GRO Index if you have some spare time. Find out more here about how you can help!
Another great free online resource you can use to research your family tree is FreeReg.