The 9 Stages of Getting Started
Using Birth, Marriage and Death Record
The best way to begin to build your family tree is by working backwards. Start with birth, marriage and death records. Every birth, marriage and death in England and Wales since 1837 can be found in the official GRO indexes.
The indexes are arranged alphabetically by surname, and within surname alphabetically by forename. Years are divided into quarters:
* January, February, March
* April, May, June
* July, August, September
* October, November, December
The quarters refer to when an event was registered, and not necessarily when it occurred. A person born at the end of March will most likely be registered in the following quarter, for example.
For the pre-1984 records it is not possible to pinpoint an individual by full name, meaning the results displayed when you conduct a search will be for pages that may contain them, and not necessarily pages that do.
Middle initials are included, to help narrow down potential ancestors, as well as registration districts. In later years, full middle names can be found. Certificates cannot be viewed online, but the indexes will give you everything you need in order to obtain them.
Viewing the birth entry of a person will give you two vital clues in your search. Firstly, if they were born after 1911, you will find their mother's maiden name: essential for tracing her birth, and marriage. You will also discover where they were born. As your tree grows you will soon come to realise that finding the places where events occurred is valuable and can help to narrow down your research enormously.
Armed with a mother's maiden name you can search the marriage records to find the union that led to the birth record you started with. From 1912 the spouse's name is included in the marriage indexes, to ensure that you have found the correct pair. Likewise you can find their own marriage, searching from the age of 16 to 40 to begin with. If you do find their marriage you can begin to search for children, or issue, from it using the spouse's name to approach the birth indexes.
Tip: It is worth starting your search in the period which is statistically most likely for an event to have occurred, and then branching out either side of this range. For marriages a search from age 18 to 28 is a good starting point
Finding a person's birth and marriage also makes it easier to find their death; not only do you have them accounted for during the period in-between birth and marriage, but you also know their approximate age and the area in which they are likely to have resided. If you aren't sure of when a person died, or indeed if they have, a search from age 60-80 in the death records is the best place to start looking.
From 1866, age at death is included in the indexes, and from 1969 exact date of birth. This is vital when searching speculatively, or if you are researching a common name.
Tip: Always note the years and quarters that you have searched, to ensure that you don't need to repeat searches.
With careful, patient searching of these indexes you will be able to extend your family tree and pin down dates and places.
Search the birth, marriage and death records now on Findmypast.com
FREE - Birth, Marriage & Death Records - Ancestry.co.uk
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