FreeBMD Registration District Information

This page gives information about Registration Districts and explains how FreeBMD handles them. For introductory information about Districts, Volumes and Pages please see here.

FreeBMD transcribes the indexes of Births, Marriages and Deaths (which we call collectively events). Each entry in these indexes contains the name of the Registration District where the event was registered. Knowing this district is important for obtaining a copy of a certificate of the event - see here for information about ordering certificates.

It is important to understand that a Registration District is not the same as the town of the same name. Although the main register office is likely to be in the town with the name of the Registration District the area covered by the Registration District will be much larger than the town and may even cross county boundaries. Information on the current and historic districts for England and Wales, including dates of creation, changes and abolition, can be found on the UKBMD website. The GENUKI website contains gazetteers that may help you to find the Registration District for a particular location.

Spelling Variations

Spellings and abbreviations of the district names vary wildly throughout the indexes. For each district we have a name that we consider to be the official name. A list of these names can be found here, together with a link to other useful information about the districts.

For all other spelling variations we have a process of linking each spelling back to the official spelling. We classify these as alternate spellings or misspellings. The latter is used where we do not believe the spelling was intended or where it is not completely readable in our source for the index (but we have still managed to work out what district it refers to).

Having done a search, if you click on the district name you will find information about the type of district, that is whether the spelling is official, alternate or misspelt. You will also be told which county the district is in and be provided with a link to further information about that district.

There are three sets of information about districts

Of the above, the first two will be of most use to researchers and transcribers.

There is a special district we have created called illegible to which we assign those district spellings that we cannot satisfactorily link to a particular district. As a researcher you may be able to work out what the district is, for example is you have additional information about an entry.

District to Volume Mappings

Registration Districts are grouped into Volumes and the volume number appears in the entry. At any particular time a district is associated with only one Volume and this can be used to validate and work out the intended district. The mapping for the "official" district is best found by looking at the page range information below. A complete listing for all the different district/volume combinations that have be transcribed can be found here.

We have extracted from the database a district to volume mapping, by year - it is here. Also, to save you the effort of looking for them, here is where there is a conflict between different entries.

Please note that these references involve a large amount of data which may take some while to download.

Page Ranges

Within each Volume there are pages and a range of page numbers is associated with each district.

We have extracted the page ranges for each volume. Look here for an index by event type and year, or here for an index by District. Remember that these are generated from the data, and so have errors in them!

Anomalies

When we present the results of a search we check the consistency of the district name, the volume and the page. If the district was not supposed to be in use at the date of the entry, the volume number is supposed to be different or the page range is not what is expected, we will indicate this. This information can be very useful to you since it may indicate an error in the Index or in the transcription. You should take particular care when ordering certificates when such an anomaly has been indicated, for example checking against other sources.

Counties

As well as searching for index entries according to the district in which they were registered we also allow you to specify the county. The results will contain all matching entries that are registered in the Registration Districts which are in the county you specify.

However, you need to take care with this facility since the counties do not necessarily contain the locations (e.g. towns) you think they might, in particular a location may be in the Registration District of a neighbouring county and therefore a search limited to a county may return results for locations in the neighbouring county. See the mapping of districts onto counties. This shows you not only which disticts are in which counties but also the dates between which they were in use.

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