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British Army World War One records are now online at Ancestry.co.uk

Family History 4 All

 Learn how to trace YOUR family tree.

Newsletter No.5 – February 2007.


 Dear Subscriber,  Welcome to our newsletter from www.familyhistory4all.co.uk Sorry its a few days late this month but I've had to spend some time in the garden, repairing damage caused by last months storms! I hope you didn't have too much damage where you live. Thankfully here in our part of the UK, the weather has been quite settled now for a while and we're getting back to normal.


1.       Our welcome message.

2.       Featured Article – About Civil Registration; Certificates and Parish Records

3.       Latest news from Ancestry

4.       Documents Online?

5.       Next month’s article.

1. I hope this message finds you all in good health. To our new subscribers a big welcome and we hope you enjoy our newsletter. And to all our subscribers – if you have an article or amusing story to share with us then please don’t be afraid to send it for publication…you can remain anonymous if you prefer but we want you all to feel you can contribute if you want to. Just send an email to publish2002ukATyahoo.co.uk with the words ‘Newsletter item’ in the subject box. And we will include it at the first opportunity, subject to editing, if necessary of course.

If you really do enjoy our newsletters then please tell all your friends and/or relatives who may be interested in family history. Forward this newsletter by all means with our blessing or ask them to sign up for their own copy! But if for any reason you don’t like some part of the newsletter, then please tell us! That way we can improve the newsletter and improve your enjoyment!

Here's the link to the archives so you can refer to previous issues: Newsletter Archive (If any links in your newsletter fail to work, then please email me at: publish2002ukATyahoo.co.uk replacing the AT with @ and I will send you the link again)

2. Certificates

Civil Registration

The present system we have in England & Wales of registering births, marriages and deaths (called civil registration) started on 1 July 1837. It is possible to purchase copies of certificates for people whose birth, marriage and death was registered after this date.

What information is included on certificates ?

Birth Certificates:

A full/standard birth certificate gives much more information than a short certificate. On a standard certificate the following information may be recorded:

The name of the child.
Date and place of birth.
Name and occupation of father.
Name and maiden surname of mother.
Name and address of the person
informing the registrar of the birth.

Births could be registered within 42 days at no charge. After this there was a charge, which meant that it was not unusual for informants to state that a birth had occurred later than it did in order to avoid payment of the fee. It's not uncommon to obtain a birth certificate and then find that the child was baptised before the birth date given on the birth certificate!

Illegitimacy is implied by the omission of the father's name, although some unmarried mothers did register this. After 1875 the father, if not married to the mother, had to be present at the registration to consent to his name being entered on the certificate or, if unable to attend, had to make a legal declaration acknowledging paternity.

Although all births in England and Wales from 1 July 1837 should have been registered, many were not recorded, particularly during the early years of the system. Until 1875, when procedures were revised, it has been estimated that 5%-10% of births were not registered.

Marriage Certificates

Marriage certificates record the following information:

Name and age of bride and groom.
Marital condition.
Address at the time of the marriage.
Father's name and occupation.

Always treat ages with a certain amount of caution as they may not be completely accurate. Many certificates from the mid-nineteenth state only 'of full age', that is, 21 or over.

Death Certificates

Death certificates give the following details:

Date and place of death.
Cause of death.
Name and address of the person informing
the registrar of the death.

From 1969, extra information is given:

Date of birth, instead of age.
Maiden surname of married woman.
Usual address
(in addition to place of death)
Place of birth.

Always bear in mind that the information on death certificates may not be completely accurate, particularly the age and date/place of birth. The informant may not know all of the details and it is not uncommon, for example, for the day and the month of the birth to be correct but the year to be wrongly stated.

The death certificate should indicate if an inquest was held and give details of the Coroner. It may be possible to locate the inquest files.

Can I get a copy of a certificate?

Each register office keeps the certificates for its own area from 1837 to the present day, whilst the Office for National Statistics has certificates for the whole of England and Wales. If you know when and where someone was born, married or died, it should be possible to obtain a copy of the certificate by contacting either the
Office for National Statistics or the register office for the area where the event was registered and paying the appropriate fee. Certificates for births, marriages and deaths registered in Wolverhampton for example, are available from Wolverhampton Register Office.

It is not possible to view the certificates rather than purchase a copy, except in the case of marriages if you can find out where the church registers are held. Birth or death certificates must be purchased in order to find out any information from them.

If you do not know enough information to write off for a copy of a certificate, then you can check entries in the General Register Office indexes.


Legal adoption began in England & Wales on 1 January 1927 - before this date there was no central registration and informal fostering within the family was commonplace. There was normally no record of these private arrangements although you may find information in an adopter's will. If the adoption was made through the Poor Law or a charity such as Dr Barnado's, then there may be evidence amongst the records of the organisation concerned.

Indexes to the registers of adopted children from 1927 are held at the Family Records Centre. The indexes give the adopted name of the child and the date of adoption but give no details of the birth parents.

If you have been adopted and wish to obtain a copy of your original birth certificate you must apply to the Adoptions Section at the Office for National Statistics for details of the adoption. If the adoption took place before 12 November 1975 then you will have to see a counsellor first to discuss details of the adoption and the main problems and stresses that may arise if you decide to trace your birth family. Counsellors may also act as intermediaries in attempting to re-establish contact with birth relatives.

You should receive details of the name of the court that made the order and the number of the adoption application if there is one, the name of the birth mother and possibly the father's name as well.

You will also receive a copy of an authorisation form that will enable you to ask the court that made the adoption order for the name of the local authority or adoption society, if any, that took part in the arrangements. You can then contact the appropriate organisation, although you should be aware that not all have kept a complete set of records.

The Children's Acts (1975 and 1989) allow access to birth records only by the adopted person. It may be possible for children or other relatives of the adopted person to apply for access to the records. Applications should be made to the Chief Clerk of either the High Court, Westminster Court or the Court where the adoption was made.

Scottish Civil Registration

The act of civil registration began in Scotland on 1 January 1855. There is a lot more information on Scottish records with the date of the parents' wedding on a birth certificate, both bride's and groom's parents are mentioned on marriage certificates and both parents also mentioned on death certificates. If you are of Scottish descent then you need to contact:

The General Register Office
New Register House
3 West Register Street

Tel: 0131 314 4444

Parish records

Parish records are by far the most important source for family historians before 1837. Else Churchill of the Society of Genealogists explains how to get the best from them...

After working through the civil records of birth, marriage and death and looking at the Victorian censuses, the next step is to use church records. By this we mean the parish registers of the established church recording baptisms, marriages and burials. These records survive for most parishes and form the basis of family research back (if you are lucky) to the 16th century in England and Wales and to the 17th century in Scotland. Most of the original copies of registers for nearly 12,000 parishes in the United Kingdom have been deposited in record offices. Since its foundation in 1911 the Society of Genealogists has been collecting copies or transcripts of these records and there are many indexes or finding aids that can be used to help find the information you want within them.

It’s useful to have some idea of the historical context that affects how registers were used. It would be nice to say that all parish registers date back to 1538 when they were introduced in England and Wales, but in fact only about 800 survive from then. A further enactment decreed that the registers, originally written on loose sheets of paper should be copied up into parchment books but many vicars only recorded the registers from the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth I in 1559. From 1598 copies of the registers were to be sent each year to the Bishop. These copies, usually known as bishops’ transcripts (BTs) or sometimes register bills were stored in the Bishop’s registry. 

Civil wars can of course be disastrous for the keeping of records and there are often gaps in the registers in the period leading up to and shortly after the Civil War and the Interregnum (especially from about 1645-1660). Information in earlier registers can differ with some recording baptisms, marriages and burials together on the page, some keeping them separate. Some can be more informative than others, depending almost at whim on what the vicar chose to note down. In 1753 Hardwick's Marriage Act for the "preventing of Clandestine Marriages" sought to prevent abuses of the marriage system and to regularise the recording of legal marriages. It introduced the keeping of a separate marriage registers and ensured that marriages occurred only in an authorised Anglican church or chapel, after the calling of banns or the issuing of a licence permitting marriage. Banns were to be recorded either in the register or a separate book, so separate marriage registers begin on 25 March 1754.

As Quakers and Jews were found to be very particular in recording marriages, they were exempt from the act but Catholics and Protestant nonconformists were no longer permitted to marry in their own churches or chapels. Rose's Act of 1812 “for the better regulating and preserving of parish and other registers of births, baptisms, marriages and burials” established that separate registers should be provided to record baptisms and burials and prescribed the minimum information that should be recorded for the event. As a consequence, all registers will start again from 1813, usually on pre-printed and numbered forms so as to avoid the possibility of fraudulent alterations. At certain times stamp duties and taxes were levied on entries in registers that undoubtedly caused people to avoid the costs of these important ceremonies. This means that you might not find an entry you are seeking especially during the period 1694-1706 or 1784-94. So, how do you start?

If you would like to read more of this article by Else Churchill, then please use the link here: -Sorry link no longer works.

3. Latest news from Ancestry

British Army World War One records have arrived!

www.Ancestry.co.uk has launched the much anticipated British Army World War One service and pension records – the second most viewed collections at The National Archives

www.Ancestry.co.uk in partnership with The National Archives today launched online the first phase of the War Office (WO) service and pension records collections for approximately 2.5 million British soldiers who served from 1914 through to 1920.

Known as the WO363 British Army Service Records and WO364 British Army Pension Records, the collections will be released in a number of phases from today, starting with the early pension records. The online resource will provide vital details for family history researchers, military enthusiasts and family members wishing to learn more about the military service and experience of their ancestors.

The collections vary in detail, users will be able to discover key information in both, including physical description, regimental number, service history, locations served, date and place of birth, former occupation, next of kin and promotions.

The pension records, which relate to soldiers discharged on account of sickness or injuries sustained during the War, include the medical records relating to the disability for which a pension was granted.

The service records describe the careers of soldiers who completed their service, were killed in action, executed or died of their wounds or disease, and provide full details of their service, and where recorded, death.

P.S. In addition we have also released over 54 million new records online for the British Phone Books Collection 1880-1984, Release 2 contains substantial new geographic coverage. More info here: www.Ancestry.co.uk

4.  During my research for both the website and our newsletter, I came across this site: DocumentsOnline. DocumentsOnline allows you online access to The National Archives' collection of digitised public records, including both academic and family history sources. "We are committed to providing online access to the records, and DocumentsOnline forms a key part of this strategy". I hope you find it useful. Here's the link: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/about.asp

5.  Next months main article:

Researching British Soldiers Who Served in the 1914-18 Great War.

British Army World War One records are now online at Ancestry.co.uk

If you have an idea for a future issue, please tell us and if possible we will include it.

That’s all for this month folks…see you soon.

 Jim. Editor


 Email: publish2002ukATyahoo.co.uk

 Or: jimATfamilyhistory4all.co.uk

 Jim Ackroyd. Address: 12 Avondale Road. Doncaster. UK. DN2 6DE


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