Freebdm.org.uk is a fantastic site for getting all your UK BMD’s for free.
What are bmd’s?
Bmd’s are birth, marriage and death records that are usually searchable. Freebmd.org.uk is the best one for the England and Wales in my opinion. It is easy to use, and lots, but not all records are online.
Civil registration began in 1837 in England and Wales, and freebmd has all births completed* except 1963, 1964, and 1978 to 1983 when they stop.
Marriages are complete* except 1964, 1965, 1966,1969, 1980, 1982 and 1983.
Deaths are complete* except 1980 to 1982. 1983* has not been done at all.
*at time of publishing.
If you cannot find what you are looking for on free bmd, there are other ways to search.
What do I do to find my ancestors on free bmd?
Searching on free bmd is quite simple. You start by choosing a type:
- All types
You then select a quarter and year start and end date. First quarter you can search is September quarter (July, August, September) 1837.
Then you can choose registration districts or counties but not both. To check more than one district or county click the first one then control+click the rest. Once you have the form filled out, click search and you are away! I would suggest you do not use ‘all types’ unless you are researching quite a rare name, as you are going to be searching quite a lot of years to get all three records. Lots of other people with the same name will be one as well.
What if I cannot find my ancestor?
If you cannot find them at all try searching surname only; don’t forget many women were born with one name and buried with another.
If you cannot find birth record try these tips:
- If you have a district try changing it for a county, then try it with all counties.
- Try using surname only. Some children were registered with different names to what people knew them as.
- Try widening the years you are searching. Sometimes if people were trying to remember mothers or fathers date of birth, birthdays come easy but the year is a guess.
- Try finding a death record. If the person died after June Quarter 1969 their date of birth will be given. If they died 1866 to June quarter 1969 their age will be provided.
- Check to see if it an incomplete year
The UK General Register Office has an online check. You need to make an account, but it is free. You can only search for births and deaths. It is easy to use, but you cannot search for as many years at once. You will get a maximum of 250 results which is quite low, so keep it as close as possible to what you believe is right, then work out from there with more years and/or different spellings.
Fill the form out with as much information as you can. You can only search within two years so you will have to search a few times if you are not sure of the year. You can choose:
- Exact matches
- Phonetically similar variations – these are names spelt as they sound for example Tailor/Taylor, Wight/White
- Similar sounding variations – These are names that sound the same for instance McCall, MaCall, McCaul, and McHale
- Derivative name variations (first forename only) These are common shortened names and nicknames, such as Jim/Jimmy for James and Jack for John.
What if I am not from the UK?
Irish genealogy is quite tricky, but you are best starting here.
Ancestry will let you check out their UK BMD’s for free as well as many other things. It is always worth signing up for a free account as you never know what you will find. You can also build your tree on here, and it will let you check other peoples trees where you may find the person you are looking for. I always recommend keeping people who are alive private though as they may not want their information online.
You can also do a free trial with Ancestry if you like, and see what you would get if you paid for an upgrade. You need to put payment details in and if you don’t want to keep it don’t forget to cancel before the date it tells you. You will then go back to the free account.
Findmypast also has lots of birth records, but you don’t get much for free. Here again, you can get a free trial to find out what they have. You can also pay to view by buying credits to see the record you want to view. Findmypast.co uk are mainly English and Welsh records, Findmypast.ie are mainly Irish records and Findmypast.com.au are records from Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. However, you can get a world membership instead giving you access to all records.
The genesreunited sites also have lots of information from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and and registration is free. You can have a free trial here and you can buy pay-to view credits
Archives.com is a US site that has lots of records. You can have a free trial here also.
FamilySearch is part of The Church of Jesus Christ. It is a free site, and it is worldwide. There are many bmd’s on here, but not all. It has lots of helpful advice though and may be beneficial.
With MyHeritage, you get a family tree builder that checks your tree with all the other family trees it has in its database and gives you matches so you can make your tree bigger. In my opinion, you still need to check the facts against some BMD database to make sure the details are right, but it may be helpful in giving you ideas.
Buying the certificate
All these may be helpful for you to start out, but never believe a birth, death or marriage until you have seen it on a site with links to purchasing a certificate. In the UK Freebmd and the General Register Office or the places to confirm everything. If you want, or need certificates always buy them directly from the source, such as the General Register Office in the UK, or the sites named earlier as that is where you will get the lowest price.
If you have any questions regarding this, or genealogy in general, send it here, and I will get back to you.