FreeBMD Search Results Help

This page contains information about interpreting the results of a FreeBMD search. There is information on how to perform a search, and do so efficiently, in the search help. Information on subsidiary subjects related to the search results are answered in the Search Results FAQ.

Results Page

When you do a search that has found some entries you will be shown the results like this (the numbers refer to the notes following): Search results page

Notes

  1. The FreeBMD database is a transcription of the GRO index and is copyright. Please read the Terms and Conditions for information on how you are allowed to use the data.
  2. To repeat the search with different parameters click on Revise Query or to do an entirely different search click on New Query
  3. You can save the results of a search so that when more records are added to the database you can see what they are - see here for more details.
  4. You can download the results of a search in spreadsheet format for further processing - see here for more details
  5. Various symbols are used in the presentation of the results and this box explains what they mean - if you need more details see here
  6. The parameters that you used to do the search are shown - if the search does not give the results you expect check that you have given the parameters you meant to
  7. You are advised to check an entry before ordering a certificate - if the spectacles icon Scan available is shown you can view the original scan to do this check
  8. If you find an error, that is where an entry does not correspond with what is in the GRO index, you can report it using the Information icon
  9. The results are grouped by quarter which is specified by the event (Births, Marriages or Deaths),the last month of the quarter and the year when the event was registered (which may be some time after the event took place). See also here for a fuller explanation.
  10. FreeBMD is work in progress and many quarters are not yet complete - the percentage figure gives an indication of how completely transcribed the quarter is and further information can be found here.
  11. Each entry is shown with the items as in the heading - if the entry is in bold, as here, then the entry has been transcribed twice and the accuracy (i.e. being the same as in the GRO index) is greatly increased
  12. Clicking on the district will give you further information about the district - if the district in in italics it means there is something suspect about it (e.g. it is an unofficial spelling) and clicking on it will give more information
  13. Clicking on the page number will show all the entries on the same page of the register - this is particularly useful when searching for the spouse but of little value otherwise - see here for more details of how entries are organised into pages
  14. These icons give you information about the entry and clicking on an icon takes you to another page with further details

Additional information in the index

The information in the index is different for different years. Here is what a similar search to the above produced but for 1938. Note that the mother's maiden name now appears. Note also that these entries have only been transcribed once and so are not in bold. Search results 2

The dates when information was added to the index are as follows:

DateQuarterInformation addedEvent
1st Jul 1911Sep 1911Mother's Maiden NameBirths
1st Jan 1912Mar 1912Spouse's SurnameMarriages
1st Jan 1866Mar 1866Age at DeathDeaths
1st Apr 1969Jun 1969Date of Birth (replaced Age at Death)Deaths

Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

  1. How can I print the results?
  2. How can I save the results to examine later?
  3. Why couldn't I find this entry?
  4. How do I report that there is an error in an entry?
  5. How do I find the spouse?
  6. How do I get a certificate?
  7. Why are some districts in italics?
  8. How can I contact the person who transcribed a record?
  9. Why doesn't the Info button work?
  10. What does mono do?
  11. What does "a gap in the data" mean?
  12. Why are no results displayed?
  13. Why do my searches keep failing?
  14. What are the limits on a search?
  15. How can I see only the most recent results?
  16. What program do I use to view a Saved Search?
  17. How can I avoid using JavaScript?
  18. Is this the same person with two surnames?
  19. Are these two different people?
  20. How can I easily return to the search window?
  21. What does district/county selected mean?
  22. What does the download button do?
  23. Why are some entries in bold text?
  24. Why does searching within a county produce anomolous results?
  25. What are the symbols beside an entry for?
  26. Why are there characters *[ ] etc in an entry?
  27. How can I tell where new entries have been added to the database?
  28. What does the percentage in the search results refer to?
  29. How do I report a missing entry?
  30. Why are the transcriptions different from the search results?
  31. Why is the district for this entry not in the district list?
  32. Where are the records I found previously?
  33. What does 'See D/39' mean?
  34. What does a suffix on a page number mean?
  35. How can I tell if these two entries are for twins?
  36. How do I search for a double-barrelled surname?
  37. Why is the page number not a link?
  38. Can I see the information on a certificate before ordering it?
  39. Can I view the original index page?
If none of the above answer your question, and it relates to how the search (or the website in general) works, you can email Contact support. You must not use this method to report errors in entries, or missing entries; instead see the item on corrections.


Questions and Answers

How can I print the results?

I've displayed the results but how do I print them?

You can print the results using the Print button on your browser.

How can I save the results to examine later?

I'd like to save the results I got so I can view them at my leisure without being online. How can I do this?

This depends on your browser. You can sometimes use File/Save As to save the current page and view it later. However, with some browsers the Search page rather than the Results page is saved. An alternative is to use the offline/history facility of your browser to view pages you have visited, without being online. Select Work Offline in your browser, then open the History and select the FreeBMD site, and then the page you want to view.

You can also use the download facility - see here.

Why couldn't I find this entry?

Why couldn't I find this entry which I have seen in the books at the Family Record Centre?

You must understand that FreeBMD is Work in Progress! We are still transcribing the indexes - you can see the progress on the progress charts - so your entries probably haven't been transcribed yet. Perhaps you would like to help in the transcribing? See how to join up.

How do I report that there is an error in an entry?

I have found an entry that is different from what is in the index. How do I report this so it will be corrected?

Click on the Information button next to the entry and then click on the link for submitting corrections. Note that corrections will only be accepted if you can show that the entry is different from what is in the index; differences from other sources (such as a certificate) will not be accepted - please see here for further information.

How do I find the spouse?

I have found the person I am looking for in the marriages but how do I find their spouse?

Please see Finding the spouse

How do I get a certificate?

I have found the entry that I am looking for but how can I get the certificate containing more information?

Please see Ordering Certificates.

Why are some districts in italics?

I've noticed that in the results some of the districts are in Italics. Why is this?

This means that there is something wrong or unusual about the district name, volume or page, specifically one of the following:

Click on the district name for more information.

How can I contact the person who transcribed a record?

I have found a relative and I want to contact the person who put in the record to see if we are related. How can I do this?

You need to understand that almost all of the records in FreeBMD were transcribed by people who had no interest in the actual entries themselves, they were giving their time and skill to provide a searchable index. However, you may be fortunate and the transcriber may have been transcribing family records, for example. To find out, click on the Information button next to the entry and then click on the name of the transcriber. If an email address is given they may have an interest in the record; if there is no email address then they do not have an interest in the record. Please note that in this latter case there is no point in leaving a postem to try to contact them - the person who transcribed the record is very unlikely to see it.

Why doesn't the Info button work?

Could you please tell me how to obtain information from the red "info icon" that appears on the end of an entry - when I click on it nothing happens?

The information appears in a separate window or tab (depending on your browser settings). Unfortunately some browsers do not always bring this window or tab to the foreground leaving you with the impression that nothing has happened. Look at the list of windows or tabs and you should find the window/tab you are looking for. The same applies to other links, such as Districts or the spectacles icon.

What does mono do?

On the search page there is a checkbox labelled mono. What does it do?

It changes the colours used for the background so that the names print better on a mono printer.

What does "a gap in the data" mean?

On the search page the legend says a "Change of shade means a possible gap in the data". What does this mean?

Where consecutive entries in the results are not contiguous in the index there is a change of shade to indicate that there is a gap in the data between the two entries. This can arise for the following reasons:

Why are no results displayed?

I did a search but no results were displayed and no message saying no entries were found. Why has this happened?

If the results page was displayed but there are no results (and no message saying no results were found) you are probably having problems with the use of JavaScript. We use JavaScript to make displaying the results more efficient but some browsers, even though they claim to support JavaScript, don't provide implementation sufficient to display the results. For example, some web TV systems fall into this category.

To get round this problem see How can I avoid using JavaScript?

Why do my searches keep failing?

You say how many searches were done on FreeBMD but I find that two thirds of my searches fail.

You can look at the details of the number of searches that were done here. You will see that very few actually fail on the server.

The design of FreeBMD is such that we always return a result from a search - if the server is too busy we say so, if the search took too long we say so ... we don't just say nothing. If you are getting no response from your searches it is probably a communications problem between you and us, and most likely a problem within your ISP. We have been told of people living next door to each, but using different ISPs, who get very different responses times.

What are the limits on a search?

From time to time my searches fail, for example because they are "too complex". What are the limits on searches?

There are a number of limits that are imposed on searches in order to make sure one person does not stop other people searching by using all the capability of the system. The limits imposed are as follows:

How can I see only the most recent results?

I know that new records are currently being added to FreeBMD. How can I see only those that have been added recently?

You should use the Saved Search facility which enables you to see only those records added since you last did a search. See Saved Search Help for more information.

What program do I use to view a Saved Search?

I have a saved search but I cannot double click on it to view it. How do I view it?

Saved Searches can only be viewed online. Enter the name of the file in the Saved Search box on the Search page and click on View Saved.

How can I avoid using JavaScript?

I think I need to get the results displayed without using JavaScript. How do I do this?

JavaScript is a system that runs within a browser to generate information more efficiently. Our search results page detects automatically if JavaScript can be used. However, there are some situations where you might want to display results without using JavaScript. To do this use the following to define a search http://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/search.pl?js=0

Is this the same person with two surnames?

For a particular volume/page in marriages there are five women, two of whom are named Sarah Jemima , one surname Bimrose, the other surname Bilton. What is the significance of this?

Such cases are very common in the indexes, and usually indicate a person who was born illegitimate, but adopted the surname of her mother's husband (whether it was the father or not).

To take the above example, if Miss Bimrose had an illegitimate child, Sarah Jemima, that child would be Sarah Jemima BIMROSE. If Miss Bimrose then married Mr Bilton, it would be common for the child to go by the name of Sarah Jemima BILTON.

When Sarah married, she would be shown on her marriage certificate as Sarah Jemima BILTON otherwise BIMROSE, and the index will show her under both names.

Are these two different people?

I did a marriage search and got a Henry Teslar and a Henry Testar recorded in the same district/volume/page. Is this an error?

Probably not. When the index was created, where the register was unclear two entries were created in the index. So in this case there is only one person, named either Teslar or Testar.

If the names are not similar then it is likely that the names are aliases for the same person, that is the person was known by two different names.

I did a births search and got a two entries that are almost identical apart from the page number. Can there really be two such people?

You should look at the Original Scan (click on the Scan available icon):

How can I easily return to the search window?

Having found possible spouses, by clicking on the Page (see Finding the spouse), how can I easily get back to the search screen to search for possible spouses for other entries?

When you click on the Page, hold down the SHIFT key at the same time. This will cause the results to be displayed in a different window, leaving the original search results in their own window. To do the next spouse search just go back to the original window.

What does district/county selected mean?

I clicked on Revise Query and underneath the district list it says One or more districts initially selected - what does this mean?

If you do a search specifying one or more districts (or counties) and then click on Revise Query you get this message below the district (or county) list. It is there to indicate to you that if you do the search again it will still be limited to those districts (or counties) and is necessary because the selected items may not be visible in the items displayed. The message does not change if you subsequently change the selection, for example to All Districts (or All Counties), which is why it says initially.

What does the download button do?

I have noticed a Download button on the search results, what does it do and how can I use it?

The download facility is explained here.

Why are some entries in bold text?

When an entry is in bold text it means that two transcribers have independently transcribed it. This is called double keying and is done to help improve the accuracy of the entries.

I did two searches within two different counties and then a search of the two combined, but the results did not add up. Whis is this?

A search within a county is effectively a search of all the districts within that county. However, a district can span two or more counties and therefore the same entry can appear in the results for more than one county. When you do a search on multiple counties such entries appear only once. See the general information about districts and also the specific details of which districts are in which counties and when.

What are the symbols beside an entry for?

I have noticed that beside some entries there are symbols. What do they mean?

The meaning of the symbols that may appear next to the Information button is as follows:

Scan availableThe scan from which the transcription was made is available for you to view - click on the icon to do so.
CommentA comment has been attached to this entry by the transcriber. This may indicate what the transcriber thought the entry should contain, especially where the entry was unclear or inconsistent.
PostemThere is a Postem attached to the entry. A Postem is a message from a researcher about the entry, perhaps indicating additional information available or seeking to get in touch with people with an interest in the entry. See the Postem help for more information about Postems; click on the Information button to view the Postem associated with this entry.
AdditionalThe entry has been added to the database since the previous update or has been changed since the previous update. See the home page for when the current update was done. See here for more information about identifying new records.
System entryThe entry is a System Entry, that is an entry that is not in the index but has been added to the FreeBMD database to correct an apparent error in the index. Click on the Information button for more information including details of any entry this System Entry may replace.
System linkThere is a System Entry linked to this entry; click on the Information button for more information including a link to the System Entry.

Why are there characters _*[ ] etc in an entry?

This means that the person transcribing the entry could not determine accurately some characters in the entry. The special characters (called "Uncertain Format Characters") define the level of uncertainty, for example * means one or more unreadable characters, _ means one unreadable character and "[38]" means either the digit "3" or the digit "8". The complete definition can be found here.

How can I tell where new entries have been added to the database?

I know that FreeBMD is "work in progress" with the number of entries increasing as more entries are added to the database. How can I tell where new entries have been added?

Our volunteers continuously transcribe more entries but we only update the database about once a month since it is a big job to update over 100 million records. The date of the latest database update can be found on the home page.

There are a number of ways that you can tell where new entries have been added.

What does the percentage in the search results refer to?

I notice that in the quarter header in the search results there is a percentage shown. What does this refer to?

The percentage figure indicates how much of that quarter we have transcribed so far. The full coverage charts are given here. Please note, however, that due to limitations in the data available this figure is only accurate to within 2 percentage points, i.e. a given percentage of 84% means between 82% and 86% of the entries have been transcribed.

How do I report a missing entry?

I have checked with the scan and I have found an entry that has not been transcribed although those round it have. How do I report this so it can be corrected?

To report a missing entry you need to submit a correction to the immediately preceding entry which you know since you have looked up the scan. Search for this entry and click on the Information button next to it, then click to make a correction. Enter the details of the missing entry in the correction form and in the source field put "According to FreeBMD scan the current entry is OK, missing entry shown".

Why are the transcriptions different from the search results?

When I click the Information button, why are there one or more entries shown that are slightly different from the search results?

The Information button shows you the actual transcriptions of the entry and there may be more than one transcription for an entry in the search results because it has been transcribed more than once. FreeBMD transcribes each page more than once to improve the accuracy of the transcription. There may be differences between these transcriptions and the search results for the following reasons:

Even if there is only one transcription it may differ from the search results for the last two reasons given above.

Why is the district for this entry not in the district list?

In the search results I have found an entry with the district "St Olave" but this district does not appear in the districts list on the search page for the year in question. Why not?

If you click on the district name ("St Olave" in this case) it will give you more information about the district, including the name that it appears under in the district list. In the case of "St Olave" it tells you that it is an alternative name for Bermondsey which is the name in the district list. The issue of alternative district names is explained here.

Where are the records I found previously?

I did a search and found a number of entries, but now when I search for them they are not found. What has happened?

Very occasionally records may be deleted from the database, for example if the record is erroneous or in the wrong quarter. However, by far the most likely cause is that you have done a search using the wrong parameters and the most common mistake is putting the first name in the Surname box and the surname in the First Names(s) box.

What does 'see D/39' mean?

I have found a record where instead of a normal page number there is 'see D/39'. What does this mean?

Please see Late Entries.

What does a suffix on a page number mean?

I have found a marriage record in September quarter 1841 where the page number is 216J. What does this mean?

This entry relates to a Vicar sending his quarterly return to the GRO late. Briefly, every Vicar in the country was supposed to send a return to the GRO for marriages during July to September 1841, to reach the Registrar General by the end of October. Particularly during the early years of civil registration, some Vicars were very lax about complying with this (they weren't happy about state interference in things that they saw as their domain), and often sent returns outrageously late. At the GRO, all the returns for a particular Registration District were gathered together, and placed in order (the dedication of the Church determined the order, and RO marriages were at the back), and all the Registration districts in a volume were likewise collated (in order of RD name). The pages were then numbered. When the return for a particular parish arrived after this process was complete, the pages were inserted into the proper place, and numbered with suffix letters. In that quarter of 1841 Southampton RD was made up of pages 215-224. Thus, the first parish alphabetically was pages 215/216, 217/218 was the parish that was second alphabetically (which got returns in on time) and 216 with a suffix relates to churches that sent in late returns that lie between those two.

How can I tell if these two entries are for twins?

I have found two birth entries with the same surname, same quarter and same district. How can I tell if these entries are for twins?

Basically there is no way you can tell for certain if they were twins but the registration information can indicate the most probable situation. There are three possibilities to consider:

How do I search for a double-barrelled surname?

I have been searching unsuccessfully for a double-barrelled surname. Are there any special tips for such searches?

Why is the page number not a link?

I have found a record which has just a black page number instead of a blue link. Why is this?

If the transcriber was unable to be certain about the page number they will have used a particular convention to indicate the uncertainty. Because of this uncertainty it is not possible to link to other records with the same page number and therefore the page number is not a link. You may still be able to work out what the other entries are on the page using the information given here.

Can I see the information on a certificate before ordering it?

Can I see the information on a certificate to check that it is for the right person before ordering the certificate?

No that is not possible, please see this GRO information. However, please also see Getting a certificate conditionally.

Can I view the original index page?

Can I view online the original index page from which FreeBMD transcribed an entry?

In most cases the original index page can be viewed and this is indicated by the entry having a spectacles icon Scan available next to it - click on the icon to view the page.

If you want to view an index page when no entry can be found, use the wildcard search facility to find a nearby entry. For example, if no entry for Linghorn has been found you can search for Ling* to see entries that would be close by and then view the page for those.

If the index page displayed does not contain the entry, click on the link in "If the scan does not contain the entry you may be able to find the scan yourself by clicking here." If you find the correct page you are encouraged to leave feedback by clicking on "Confirm" so that the correct index page will be shown for other researchers.

Last Updated 30th October 2013

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