Family History Research

Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates

There are two places where indexes to birth, marriage and death certificates are held:

The national indexes are created from quarterly returns from local register offices and have been transcribed three times before the final indexes are created and are, therefore, open to human error at all these stages.

There is an excellent article written by Tony Foster from the Lancashire BMD project giving an insight into how approximately 1 million entries from 1837-1899 could be missing or mistranscribed in the GRO indexes.

Important Dates in Civil Registration

Cheshire BMD Project - (FREE website)

*****TWO Million Tameside Regsitratons Online*****

Pioneered by the Family History Society of Cheshire, a team of volunteers has been working for nine years now, with the co-operation of the staff at Tameside Register Office, towards getting all the Birth, Marriage and Death indexes for the whole of the Tameside area available for searching on-line via the Cheshire BMD project. The Cheshire BMD Project aims to make its indexes the most accurate source anywhere because they are checked against the original entries in the original registers. This local project also includes significantly more information than the national one, therefore helping to avoid applying for the wrong certificates.


Virtually all births are now on-line covering all the Tameside sub registration districts from 1837. Bob Kirk recently announced that all Morther's Maiden Names have now been added for all Tameside sub registration districts pre 1974 - a major milestone!! This does not happen on the national GRO registers until 1911



All marriages, totalling more than 250,000, which occurred in any Tameside Churches and Chapels and all Civil Marriages are now on-line. The Cheshire BMD project provides details of both parties to the marriage and where possible where it actually took place. The national GRO indexes don't give both surnames until 1912, nor do they give you any clues as to venue.


For much more detail about marriage venues in Tameside and for the rules about where marriages could take place under civil registration click here to see a complete list of Marriage Registers held at Tameside Register Office.


More than half a million deaths are now on-line from 1837 including the age at death. The GRO indexes do not include the age at death until 1866.


To reduce the risk of any transcription errors, all the entries in the Cheshire BMD Project have been checked against the original registers. Another big bonus with Cheshire BMD is that it splits the search results into individual sub-registration districts, therefore helping you to define your search results more accurately.

Entries also have an individual reference number in the top right hand corner which when clicked takes you to an intermediary search summary screen, clicking the reference number again on any of these will take you to a partially completed application form to print off ready to send to the relevant register office.

When looking for Birth, Deaths or Marriages in the Tameside region of East Manchester go to the CheshireBMD web site at:

You can order Tameside certificates by post by printing off the application form, or by credit card on-line at, follow the instructions for online ordering on the Cheshire BMD website


Certificates cost £11.00 from Local Register Offices. Remember though that local BMD projects are helping to make it less likely that you will order the wrong certificate and local register offices may also help by checking additional information to try and make sure they send you the right certificate. The GRO at Southport no longer offers this addditonal service and even charge you half price when they can't find the relevant certificate.

Other counties have joined the project incuding, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Staffordshire, West Midlands, North Wales, Bath , Berkshire, Wiltshire and the North East of England. Please go to the UK BMD Project for more information. These are now cross database searchable by clicking on Local BMD and then UKBMDsearch. Check the coverage pages for other areas, since this project is not neccesarily as advanced in other registration districts. It's no use complaining that you can't find a birth for someone in say 1930, when these have only been checked and uploaded up until 1910.

Free BMD - (free website)

This is your next best place to search if your ancestors are not yet covered by one of the local BMD projects.

Another extremely useful project whereby it is hoped eventually to transcribe all the General Register Offices (GRO) indexes of Births, Marriages and Deaths and make them searchable on-line. The GRO indexes are compiled from quarterly returns sent by Local Register Offices and are the same as those available to view on microfilm at Family History Centres and Local Record Offices. The FreeBMD Database was last updated on Thu 22 Feb 2024 and currently contains 293,635,325 distinct records (392,981,044 total records). Progress is rapidly approaching the middle of the 1990s.

Coverage can be a little patchy in the later years, most years are complete whilst others have hardly been started you can check this by clicking on the Information page and then on Coverage Charts (shown under Statistics).The reference numbers quoted, in this instance, are different from those at the UK BMD project, and are the ones to quote when ordering from the General Register Office at Southport.

The General Register Office
PO Box 2
Tel: 44 (0) 300 123 1837

Ancestry - (subscription website)

Ancestry uses the FREE BMD indexes up until 1915 and then their own individually indexed entries up until 2005. The Library Edition is available to use free of charge in many libraries.

Find My - (subscription website)

Similar to Ancestry but also includes registrations notified to Army Chaplains and the British Consular records of Births, Marriages and Deaths which occurred abroad. FindMyPast is available to use at the Family History Society of Cheshire's Mobberley Research Centre. All FindMyPast birth, marriage and death registrations including those overseas are now individually indexed and easy to search. Marriages and deaths at sea including those who died on the Titanic.

BMD Index.Co.Uk - (subscription website)

Rival to the above sites - £5 for three month's subscription, £14.95 for 12 months, fully surname searchable. The entire GRO indexes are now searchable on-line.

Certificates On-line

Offers the ability to apply directly on-line for certificates from the General Register Office at Southport - excellent site and the best way of ordering GRO certificates. Cheaper and Quicker than applying by post. You can now search direct from this page. The GRO have now started adding some of the extra details found on the Local BMD project such as Mother's Maiden name on births and the age at death. You can now search direct from this site and order cheaper PDF versions of certificates

PDF Extended Pilot GRO has been piloted a service providing PDF copies of historical birth and death records. The pilot, originally extended to July 2018, has now been extended further to continue to assess longer term demand and there is no planned end date at this time. Further communications will be provided in due course.

Applications for PDF’s cost £2.50, must be made online and include a GRO index reference. England and Wales records available in this extended pilot include:

Births: 1837 –1917
Deaths: 1837 –1957 Note: A PDF is not a certificate and has no “evidential” value, therefore a paper certified copy [certificate] is required for official purposes, e.g. applying for a passport, driving licence or where required to give notice of marriage.

It is still possible to search through the National GRO Indexes even if you don't have access to a computer or don't want to subscribe to one of the pay sites above, either at:


For a full list of registration districts in England and Wales click here.

Some useful webpages:
The Etymology of Given Names
Old Medical Terms

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