FreeBMDFreeBMD Districts, Volumes and Pages

This page gives information about how Districts, Volumes and Pages are related in the registration process used in England and Wales.

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

where the page identifier (or Page) is a number possibly followed by a letter that identifies the page in the Register containing the entry. This information is known as the GRO Index Reference and can be used to obtain from the GRO a certified copy of the information in the Register (commonly just known as a certificate). Entries on a page are generally not related, the exceptions being for twins (in the birth Register), spouses (in the marriage register) and victims of a multiple death event (in the deaths register).

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 183731st Dec 1851Roman Numerals
1st Jan 185230th Jun 1946Arabic Numerals followed by letter
1st Jul 194631st Mar 1964 Arabic Numerals followed by letter
1st Apr 196531st Mar 1974Arabic Numerals followed by letter
1st Apr 197431st Dec 1993Arabic Numerals

The grouping of Districts into Volumes ceased from 31st Dec 1992 for Births and Deaths and from 31st Dec 1993 for Marriages.

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:

Index page sample

You can view the index page from which FreeBMD transcribed an entry by clicking on the Scan available symbol the next to the entry.

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