All Births, Marriages and Deaths are recorded in Registers, typically with 4 or 8 entries per page. These Registers are grouped into Volumes which are identified by a number, possibly followed by a single letter. Early registers were identified by Roman Numerals (e.g. XII) and later ones by Arabic numerals (e.g. 12) but in FreeBMD we only use Arabic numberals for searching (so volume 12 would find volume XII).
The Registers themselves are held by the General Register Office (GRO) and under current legislation only officials of the GRO are allowed to access them. The GRO will provide a certified copy of an entry in the Registers (a certificate) - see here for further information.
The GRO has created an index to the Registers called the GRO Index and FreeBMD is an online transcription of this index that can be searched. A particular page in a register is uniquely identified in the GRO Index by
Each entry is registered in a District (sometimes referred to as a Registration District or RD). Each Volume of entries covers a specific collection of districts and is identified by the volume. The volume changed at various times but was generally consistent within the following periods:
|1st July 1837||31st Dec 1851||Roman Numerals|
|1st Jan 1852||30th Jun 1946||Arabic Numerals followed by letter|
|1st Jul 1946||31st Mar 1964||Arabic Numerals followed by letter|
|1st Apr 1965||31st Mar 1974||Arabic Numerals followed by letter|
|1st Apr 1974||present||Arabic Numerals|
FreeBMD analyses the entries in its database and provides a number of tables that relate District, Volume and Page - these are explained here as are the issues relating to different spellings of a district.
FreeBMD contains information about the entries in the Registers but this information has not be transcribed directly from these Registers. Instead the information is transcribed from the Indexes which contain summaries of the Registers. These Indexes were created by the registration authority to enable entries to be more easily found.
Each page of the index has a number which is the Index Page. This should not be confused with the Register Page which applies to the entries featured on the index page.
All of these concepts are shown on the following index page sample:
You can view the index page from which FreeBMD transcribed an entry by clicking on the symbol the next to the entry.
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