GuidedResearch:Why Can't I Find the Record - London Births

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London Births - Why can't I find the record?

This page will give you additional guidance and resources to find birth information for your ancestor. Use this page after first completing the birth section of the London Guided Research page.


Additional records

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Mandatory birth registration started in 1837. However, universal compliance did not occur until 1874. Before 1837, births and baptisms can be found in church records (mainly the Church of England). The oldest baptism records date to 1538.

Additional Databases and Online Resources




Substitute records

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Additional Records with Birth Information

Substitute records may contain information about more than one event and are used when records for an event are not available. Records that are used to substitute for birth events may not have been created at the time of the birth. The accuracy of the record is contingent upon when the information was recorded. Search for information in multiple substitute records to confirm the accuracy of these records.

Use these substitute records to locate birth information about your ancestor:
Wiki Page
FamilySearch(FS) Collections
Why to search the records
Birth Registration
See Wiki page
Civil birth registration lists the child's birth date and place, gender, father's name and occupation, and mother's full name.
Marriage Registration
See Wiki page
Civil marriage registration lists the bride and groom's ages and names and occupations of their fathers.
Death Registration
See Wiki page
Civil death registration lists the deceased's death date and place, gender, age, occupation, and their occupation (or parent's name if a child).
Census Records
England Census FS Collections
Census records from 1841 onward give the age and birthplace of the recorded individuals, allowing researchers to discover birth places and calculate birth years. The 1911 census lists the number of children (alive and deceased) born to the couple.
Cemetery Records
See Wiki page
Monumental or tombstone inscriptions and records created when a deceased individual was interred in a cemetery. May include the deceased individual's birth date or age.
Church Death and Burial Records
London Death Guided Research
Go back to the London Guided Research page, and click on "Death". Death and burial parish registers may include age at death, allowing researchers to calculate approximate birth years.
Nonconformist Records
See Wiki page
Society of Friends (Quakers) and other nonconformist churches, such as the Presbyterian Church, also have birth and baptism parish registers.
Newspapers
See Wiki page
May contain birth and death notices and even obituaries. Death notices and obituaries may list the deceased's birth date or age.
Military Records
See Wiki page
Military records, after 1707, may include the birth place and age of the individual, allowing researchers to calculate the approximate birth year.
Poor Law Records
See Wiki page
May contain birth place and age, allowing researchers to calculate approximate birth years.





Improve searching

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Tips for finding births

Successfully finding birth records in online databases depends on a few key points. Try the following search suggestions:

  • Spelling variations. Your ancestor's name may be misspelled. Search with spelling variations for the first and last name of your ancestor.
  • Search parents. Search for the parents, if known, as the child's first name may not be on the birth record.
  • Search given name. Search by given name (leave out the last name) with the approximate date of birth.
  • Add information. For common names, add more information to narrow the search such as approximate birth date or parent's names if known.
  • Date range. Expand the date range of the search by 5 years.
  • Search county. Search using the county name only instead of by parish.





Why the record may not exist

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Known Record Gaps

Records Start
Mandatory birth registration started in 1837. However, universal compliance did not occur until 1874. Before 1837, births and baptisms can be found in church records (mainly the Church of England). Although the oldest baptism records date to 1538, many parish churches did not start recording baptisms until the 1600s.

Records Published

Records Destroyed
Some church records may have been lost, destroyed, or damaged (especially in the 1500s and early 1600s). More specific information is not known. Civil registration records are generally complete.