What is FreeBMD?
The FreeBMD website for civil registration indexes started some years ago at a time when it was quite difficult to access the Civil Registration Indexes especially if you lived far from London or lived overseas. For those of you not familiar with civil registration see the civil registration lesson on MadAboutGenealogy’s sister website www.teachyourselffamily.com. It is one of the essential websites for family history research back to 1837.
Ben Laurie, Graham Hart, Camilla von Massenbach, David Mayall and Allan Raymond are the creators of the site and they organise a huge number of volunteers who give their time to help transcribe the indexes to births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales. The indexes date from mid 1837 when the government set up the General Registration Office (GRO) and passed legislation that stated that all births, marriages & deaths must be recorded. The FreeBMD database covers 1837 to 1983, however the project is not complete as there are still gaps in the years 1930 – 1983. The years prior to 1930 are completed.
What can be found on the FreeBMD website?
The area which most visitors to the website will use is the search page. This page has a number of boxes which can be filled in or left blank.
Type – Searches can be of All Types, Births, Deaths or Marriages. One of these types need to be highlighted by clicking on it.
Surname – type in the surname you are searching for.
First Names – type in the first name of the person you are searching for. Remember that not all additional names were recorded on the GRO Indexes.
Spouses/Mothers Surname – This can be entered if known otherwise leave blank.
Spouse’s First Name – This can be entered if known otherwise leave blank. This can be very helpful by narrowing down the search if you are seeking a person with a common surname and only know the first name of the spouse.
Death Age or Date of Birth – This can be filled in, but I generally leave this blank.
Date Range – The indexes are arranged in quarters i.e. the events registers in January, February and March are in the March quarter. Therefore if you are using this to narrow down a search range you will need to choose a quarter from the drop down box and also enter a year.
Volume/Page – These can be entered if known.
Mono – Choose this if you want a monochrome screen, It won’t alter the search results in any way.
Exact Match on First Names – Tick this box if you are sure the first name can only be spelt one way.
Phonetic Surname Search – Very useful if the surname you are seeking can be spelt a number of different ways.
Match Only Recorded Ages – Only use this if the death you are seeking occurred after March 1866, but remember that in past times not everyone knew their age and sometimes ages were deliberately changed for a variety of reasons. When deaths were registered the person who was most likely to know the truth about their age may well be the person in the coffin!
Districts – In this box you can limit your search to a particular registration district. There is an excellent list of all the district together with details if they have changed boundaries over the years at http://www.ukbmd.org.uk/genuki/reg/districts/index.html. You can chose more than one district to include in your search simply hold down CTRL as you click the mouse.
Counties – In this box you can limit your search to a particular county. You can chose more than one county to include in your search simply hold down CTRL as you click the mouse. NOTE – You can not select both districts and counties, it is either/or.
Saved Search – You can save searches if you wish to come back again to them.
Once the search button is pressed a list of entries that fit the search criteria will come up for you to browse through and look at all possible entries.
A red cross next to an entry indicates that it has been altered or included since the last major update of the site. A small yellow envelope next to the entry indicates that someone has posted additional information. When I purchase a certificate I go onto the FreeBMD site and attach such a envelope (there are instructions how to do this) to the index entry. It may answer someone’s questions before they have to buy a certificate.
A pair of spectacles next to an entry indicates that there is a scan of the original index entry for you to look at if you so wish.
Where can I find FreeBMD?
FreeBMD has it’s own website which is sponsored by Ancestry.
The indexes are also on the Ancestry.co.uk website and are free to use on there even if you are not a subscriber.
FreeBMD is one of the sites that should be bookmarked by family historians especially if you do not subscribe to one of the major genealogy websites.