I said in an earlier post that I would briefly run through how to order Birth, Marriage and Death certificates from the General Register Office, and this is that post. I don’t know if there are other places that you can get certificates from, other than the GRO or local register offices, but I always tend to get mine from the GRO – if in your experience other sources are better then please do let me know!
To begin, you need to get hold of the GRO reference numbers for the subject of your search. The example I am going to give is of my Great Grandmother, Louisa Etheridge, and we are going to ‘order’ her birth certificate. As I’ve said, I use Ancestry.co.uk for most of my research, but if you are looking specifically for certificates, there are several websites and resources you can use to get the GRO reference. The best free one is FreeBMD.
Once you are on the site, search for the relative in question, selecting which type of certificate you are after (birth in our case) and it will return a list like this:
Click for more info and it will give you a summary of the information and the option to view the index of births that this entry has been transcribed from, which looks like this:
That is rather a long list of names, so I’ve cut out the bit that concerns us, namely Louisa Annie Etheridge:
Once you have this index, you need to hop over to the website of the General Register Office, create a login and then feed that information into the first page, which asks what type of certificate you want, what year the event was registered in and whether you have the GRO reference:
Press submit on this page and it takes you to the second page, which asks for the particulars of your relative, including those that you have just gleaned from FreeBMD:
You can see that the information here matches the index, above (Q3, Vol 2b, Page 634), and then allows the lovely people at GRO to go off and find the correct entry for you in their records. As you can also see form the image above, the service doesn’t come cheap – you are requesting a certified certificate of birth, and also taking someone’s time to produce, and this costs £9.25 for people within the UK and takes about 4 days to arrive.
So far, using this service, I have been lucky and all the certificates I’ve ordered have related to the people I was looking for, but you can imagine that it gets expensive if you’re ordering on a hunch!
The BMD certificates are some of the best ways to move your research onwards though, so well worth getting acquainted with the GRO.
I hope this has been clear – or clearer than mud at least, but please do let me know if you have any questions about it or corrections that I should put in!