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|The Life Cycle|
The Life Cycle
Finding Out More
The certificates have remained largely unchanged since the 1830s and contain vital genealogical information:
Each certificate, however, costs £6.50 (2002 prices) so you need to fairly certain of your facts before ordering one. More information about these records and how you can order them are found at http://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/
For details about Birth, Marriage and Death Records and their locations please follow the link provided here.
There are series of records relating to births, marriages and deaths overseas and they are largely held at the Family Records Centre. The records are mainly for service personnel, including events at sea that took place on British vessels and registration. The records include:
More information can be found in Stella Colwell's book The Family Records Centre: A User's Guide (PRO, 2002) and Amanda Bevan, Tracing Your Ancestors in the National Archives, (PRO, 2002)
After the birth, marriage and death certificates the most useful records are census records. They are invaluable sources because they contain considerable amounts of information about Victorian ancestors and their families that may not be available elsewhere, such as:
The first national census took place in 1801 and they have been taken every ten years since, with the exception of 1941. Returns for the 1801 and subsequent censuses of 1811, 1821 and 1831 have been destroyed.
The procedure in collecting information for the census has changed little over the past two centuries. Enumerators delivered census forms to each household and a few days later they returned to collect the completed forms. The enumerator would then transfer this information into a book, which was then sent to London for analysis. It is microfilm copies of these books which are now to be found at the Family Records Centre. The original forms, with a few very rare exceptions, have long been destroyed.
Read more about Census Records.
As the Church of England is the established church, the majority of christenings, marriages and funerals were recorded in the local partish registers. By the 1830s, however, it is estimated that only 50% of events were recorded in parish registers.
Registers start in 1538, although most date from the 17th century. They are a useful source if you can't find a civil registration certificate or for events that predate civil registration.
The further back you go the more difficult they are to use because fewer survive and they can be difficult to read. Until 1812 (1754 for marriages) there was no regulation about the material that had to be recorded; therefore, the information varies greatly. Ultimately this indifferent record keeping defeats many genealogical researchers.
Not everybody, however, was a member of the Church of England. Nonconformist denominations grew in the 17th and 18th centuries, of which the largest was the Methodists.
A few people, known as recusants, remained faithful to Roman Catholicism despite centuries of persecution. Their records can be more informative than their Anglican equivalents, although it can sometimes be difficult to discover whether an ancestor was a nonconformist and which church (s)he belonged too.
Until 1837, all nonconformists apart from Quakers and Jews had to be married in the Church of England for the marriage to be legally recognised.
Read more about Parish Registers, their locations and the information they can contain.
Epitaphs on graves can offer an insight into family relationships and the character of the deceased.
Many monumental inscriptions, generally abbreviated to 'MIs', have been published by family history groups and interested individuals. The resulting booklets can be consulted at local record offices and libraries. The Society of Genealogists also has a large collection of these publications.
There are many useful books on different aspects of family history. Link here for Suggested Further Reading for Research Family History.
Creators: Simon Fowler
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