England Vital Records Index (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975England Marriages, 1538-1973, and England Deaths and Burials, 1538-1991.
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Known Issues With This Collection

These index only collections were transcribed from microfilm or hard copy image prints from microfilm by volunteers using a variety of computer software to compile index entries many years ago and the initial index was published on CD sets. When the CD sets were removed from distribution it was decided to publish the collection online.

However the computer data entry and assembly methods used in the various system origins denoted in the index are known to contain large scale batch errors and the researcher needs to be wary about the place data entry field within the index.

In a number of microfilms the place data entry fields where more than one parish is itemised on the microfilm have the first place name entry entered for all parishes. This human error is difficult to fix and FamilySearch was aware of several of these errors at the time of publication online.

However the index is used daily as a pointer to source records by thousands of researchers and rather than remove it to make corrections FamilySearch reports known issues within the relevant parish page by reference to the film.

Please email support@familysearch.org  with Historical Records in the heading of your email if you encounter any issues with the collection and quote the System origin, Source film number and reference with the Record Details of the individual you located.

A variety of system origins may be found within the collection and these are indicative of the era of the index and software employed for data entry.

Parishes with known issues are referred to in the parish page of the FamilySearch wiki. Go to the page for each county Parishes e.g. Kent Parishes then locate the parish Ripple, Kent and if the index is known to contain errors refer to the Church Records paragraph for details.

Known issues include:

Chard, Somerset

Charlton Adam, Somerset

Charlcombe, Somerset

Charlton Horethorne, Somerset

Charlton Mackrell, Somerset

Cross Stone, Yorkshire

Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

Heptonstall, Yorkshire

Ramsgate Holy Trinity, Kent

Ripple, Kent

Swingfield, Kent

Westbere, Kent

Collection Time Period

This index covers events from 1700 through the mid 1900s.

Record Description

The index is an electronic database of information transcribed from original records.

Record Content

The key genealogical facts found in birth or christening index entries may include:

  • Name of the child
  • Gender
  • Names of the parents
  • Birth date
  • Birthplace
  • Christening date (if the source is a church record)
  • Family History Library Microfilm and item numbers for the source materials

The key genealogical facts found in marriage index entries may include:

  • Name of bride and groom
  • Names of the parents
  • Marriage date
  • Marriage place
  • Family History Library Microfilm and item numbers for the source materials

The key genealogical facts found in death or burial index entries may include:

  • Name of the deceased
  • Gender
  • Names of the parents
  • Name of the spouse (if married)
  • Death or burial date
  • Death or burial place
  • Family History Library Microfilm and item numbers for the source materials 

How to Use the Record

Use this index to help you learn more about your ancestors. The information could help you identify family relationships and lineages as well as direct you to original records of your ancestors, which may contain additional information.

In birth or christening records, if a surname is not listed for the child, the indexer often assigns the father’s surname to the child. This surname may not be correct. So if you are looking for a birth or christening, search by the given name of the child, adding parents' names and as much locality information as is permitted.

It may be necessary for you to conduct a number of searches by father's first name variant to identify all children in the index. Before 1812 both parish registers and Bishop's Transcripts vary in entry for baptism and manuscript entries may contain abbreviation like Wm. (William) Thos. (Thomas). Abbreviations, diminutions (Will, Tom) and variant spelling should all be attempted as search parameters and a single Exact search may not return a result for these reasons. This is not a problem within the search engine but the original record data may be outside the possibility you are searching for and you may need to vary the search parameters to identify the data.

By searching on father's name and a wide year range in the parish it is often possible to locate the baptisms of siblings and if the baptismal register contains Mother's first name this may reduce the number of results from a search. It is possible that more than one father with the same given name and surname in the parish may have children baptised in the same period.

In order to identify the source material for an entry in this index, locate the source film number. This can then be searched in the Family History Library Catalog to obtain the relevant film. As FamilySearch wiki builds you will find the source films referred to in tables for each parish. You may use the reference to the individual and event and the reference usefulin conjunction with Photoduplication Services to find a single event or individual or examine the microfilm(s) indicated.Most archives in Britain also offer a similar service if you are resident there but unable to visit the archive where the record is deposited to conduct a personal search.

Duplicated results in a search may be caused by more than one record source on different source films. It is possible that variation in dates for an individual may be due to reading of banns, objections to marriage, marriage bonds, as well as the marriage entry itself. The search engine will return a number of results for events where more than one source is involved. There is also a possibility of human error both in the original record entries in source material and indexing.

Record History

For over 30 years, volunteer indexers extracted this information from microfilm copies or microfilm hard copy print outs of the original records. In 2001, some of the entries were published on 6 CDs by the Family History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the "British Isles Vital Records Index: England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales." This index is an index of the births or christenings; marriages; and deaths or burials throughout England. The index is not necessarily complete for any particular place or region.

The transcription effort initially was limited in scope and attempted to retrieve simple names, event type, date and place and relationship. More Baptismal and marriage events were included than burials.

Why This Record Was Created

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sponsored the indexing of this collection to help individuals find information about their ancestors.

Record Reliability

Church records and civil registration were official records and are some of the most reliable sources of information available for those who were born, married, or died in England.

How Has This Article Helped You?

Related Websites

www.freebmd.org.uk 1837 to present day.  Birth, Marriage and Death registration quarterly index, the transcriptions are still in progress and are freely available.  The website explains the registration process and its chronological implementation.  The website provides access to their images of the index and a double entry checking system for early years of manually compiled quarterly index years before the introduction of typed inddexes as well as the opportunity to correct entries in the database.

The General Register Office had both a local and national index. Many local Registration offiices historical registrations since 1837 are now computerised by either the registration service or by local community volunteers. Within the FamilySearch wiki in individual parish pages you may find links to local databases such as Cheshire BMDLancashire BMD which enable you to search for and print applications direct to the local registration service. These arrangements result in much faster certificate production than application to the national agency.

Efforts are underway to provide online access to every local and national registration of Birth, Marriage and death from the September 1837 quarter in England and Wales.

Two other websites are also available,

www.freereg.org.uk a database of church records for some of the English Counties and still "work in progress".  Some records are incomplete due to their destruction and others through non-availability.

www.freecen.org.uk a database of the English and Welsh Census records, 1841 and thereafter every 10 years up to 100 years ago (1911 census).  This is still a "work in progress" project.

The above websites are all charitable and rely on volunteer transcribers as can be seen from the websites.

Related Wiki Articles

England Church Records

Contributions To This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.


Style Guide

For guidelines to use in creating wiki articles that describe collections of images and indexes produced by FamilySearch, see: FamilySearch Wiki:Guidelines for FamilySearch Collections pages.

Sources of Information for This Collection

"England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org/). Index entries derived from digital copies of originals housed in various repositories throughout England.

"England Marriages, 1538-1973," database, FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org/). Index entries derived from digital copies of originals housed in various repositories throughout England.

"England Deaths and Burials, 1538-1991," database, FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org/). Index entries derived from digital copies of originals housed in various repositories throughout England.

Each entry in this index has a source listed. The index may be a compilation of records from a variety of sources, including the following:

  • Family Records
  • Church Records
  • Civil Registration


We welcome your assistance in adding source citation information for individual archives when collection data was collected from various sources or archives. The format for citing FamilySearch Historical Collections, including how to cite individual archives is found in the following link: How to Create Source Citations For FamilySearch Historical Records Collections

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the Wiki Article: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections

Please add sample citations to this article following the format guidelines in the wiki article listed above.

Examples of Source Citations for a Record in This Collection:

  • United States. Bureau of the Census. 12th census, 1900, digital images, From Family Search Internet(www.familysearch,org: September 29, 2006). Arizona Territory, Maricopa, Township 1, East Gila, Salt River Base adn Meridian; sheet 9B, line 71.
  • Mexico, Districto Federal, Catholic Church Records, 1886-1933, digital images, from Familysearch Internet (www.familysearch,org: April 22, 2010), Bapistm of Adolfo Femandex Jimenez, 1 Feb. 1910, San Pedro Apostol, Cauhimalpa, Districto Federal, Mexico, film number 0227023