M*CH*MORE One Name Study
CIVIL REGISTRATION IN THE UNITED KINGDOM
Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths commenced in July 1837 in England and Wales and in 1855 in Scotland. Although registration did not become compulsory in England and Wales until 1875, it soon became general practice and there was a corresponding decline in church registrations.
Civil registers are not available for public inspection, and we have to rely on quarterly or (from 1984) monthly indexes for England and Wales and annual indexes for Scotland. The four quarters are referred to as the March quarter (q1: 1 Jan - 31 Mar), the June quarter (q2: 1 Apr - 30 Jun), the September quarter (q3: 1 Jul - 30 Sep), and the December quarter (q4: 1 Oct - 31 Dec). Each index shows the registration district and the volume and page on which each person's registration was recorded or a code number.
The information included in the indexes has changed over time. In England and Wales, age at death was not included in the deaths index until 1866q1, and then replaced by date of birth in 1969q2. Also, the mother's maiden name was added to the births index in 1911q3 and the spouse's name to the marriages index in 1912q1. The Scottish births index does not include the mother's maiden name, but the deaths index includes other surnames for females (e.g., maiden name or previous married name).
A list of M*CH*MORE events in the civil registration indexes was compiled by Bob MUCHAMORE in the 1990s and has been updated several times since. Also, entries have been added from some other indexes compiled by the UK General Record Office relating to UK citizens at sea, overseas and in overseas military establishments.
Once a person is located in an index, it is possible to purchase a copy of the birth, marriage or death certificate in order to obtain the full registration details. You are strongly advised to check the original indexes before ordering any certificates. Images of the England and Wales indexes up to 1983 are available here, and Scottish indexes up to 2006 can be found here.
Click here for further information on civil registration in England and Wales, including information on how to order certificates. Another useful table summarises the codes used to denote the various registration districts, which have been revised four times since 1837. Scottish certificates can be ordered here.