The guide to researching your family history.

Catherine Meades BSc DipGen QG
Visit: Cameo Family History

A series to lead you through the process of discovering your family’s story in simple steps, with some tips and tricks to help you through, round or over brick walls.

Part 2 – Vital Records (Click here for Part 1)

The process of registering births, marriages and deaths, as we know it today, started in July 1837 in England and Wales. Registration generates birth, marriage and death certificates, vital records for family history research.

Key information on each type of certificate is as follows:

  • Birth certificate: Date and place of birth; father’s name and occupation; mother’s name and maiden name.
  • Marriage certificate: Date and place of marriage; marital status, ages, places of residence, and occupations of couple, names of occupations of fathers of bride and groom.
  • Death certificate: Date and place of death, age, occupation (which can include details of spouse), cause of death and name of the informant, who can be a family member.

To find the information to obtain a certificate you need to search the indexes on websites such as:

  • – Free
  • – Free to search. You have to pay to order a certificate
  • Subscription websites such as Ancestry, FindMyPast and TheGenealogist. ££
  • In some cases, you have no choice but to buy a certificate, but often there is sufficient information in the indexes to tell you what you need to know. For information on how to search these indexes and use certificates, see the Cameo Family History website.

Next month: Census Records

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