Information contained on birth, marriage and death certificates
We can provide copy certificates of any of the birth, death or marriage entries that we hold in our archives. They can provide a wealth of information in the researching of your family tree.
These will state the exact date and place of birth of the individual, the name and place of birth of the mother, and where applicable, her maiden name. If a father has been included on the entry, then his name and place of birth is also recorded.
- Sometimes a person is known by a forename that appears on a birth certificate as a second name eg. you may be looking for Emily Smith, but her birth registration may actually be Alice Emily Smith. If you are unable to find the entry you are interested in, it may be worth widening the search a little to consider this point.
- Sometimes the ages on the census records are not quite accurate as no proof was required when information was collected - it was not uncommon in the early records for someone to not actually know their age! Therefore if you are using the age from a census record in order to locate the birth entry and cannot find it, widen your search a little to allow for a little variation!
These records will state the full names of the couple. It usually also states their residence, their occupations and the date and place of the marriage. But sometimes the more useful information relates to the inclusion of the names and occupations of the fathers of the couple, enabling you to explore a further generation or to prove sibling relationships.
- Sometimes the marriage takes place after the birth of the first child, so if you are struggling to find an entry of marriage but have a birth date of a child of the couple, widen your search dates to include after the child's date of birth.
- Sometimes, if a woman has been married more than once, the name on the certificate may be different to what you were expecting; search using the groom's name instead as it was less likely that his name changed.
- Early records sometimes do not state the exact age of the couple; instead that they were of 'full age' ie; legally old enough to marry. You may have to widen your search when looking for their birth entries as the marriage certificate alone will not indicate their exact age in order for you to calculate the year of birth.
These records will state the date and place of death, age, occupation, final residence and cause of death of the deceased. It will also include the name and relationship of the person notifying the authorities and sometimes can give an indication on whether a spouse is still alive.
- The registration occurs in the area where the person died. It is possible that they passed away when they were not at home, so widen your search if you are not finding the record in the area you are expecting.
- If an inquest was involved, it may have taken time (sometimes months or years) for the registration to have been completed; try a wider search of the date in order to find the record.
Whilst registration of births, deaths and marriages became possible in 1837, it was not enforced until 1875 and therefore some between these times may have been 'missed' and will not appear in our archives.
If a birth, death or marriage took place outside of the county of Surrey or overseas, we will not have the entry in our archives as we only hold records of those actually happening in our area.
Additional facts to note
- Try a different spelling of the name as sometimes, if the person registering was not able to read or write, the registrar would have to put his interpretation of the spelling onto the registration. This may explain why we have such a mix of spellings of names in existence today!
- If the person registering was not able to read or write, then the registrar would ask the person to mark a cross in place of a signature. Then the registrar would write 'The mark of' and the name of the person registering in order to record their consent to the registration.
We try to scan as many records as possible (if no errors are contained in the original entry) when producing a copy certificate. If you purchase a certificate from us, it may be that you receive an image of the original registration so you can view exactly as it appears in our archives and see the actual writing or mark of your ancestors!