Births, Deaths and Marriages
Registers of births, marriages and deaths were started on 1 July 1837. Each register was a list of information about a birth, marriage or death. You can get a certificate of an entry in these registers and these are known as either birth, marriage or death certificates.
My birth certificate shows where and when I was born, the name I was given, who my parents were, where they were born and what they did for a living. It also shows my mother’s maiden name - her surname before she married my father.
You can get copies of the information on these registers and many of the older registers are available on the internet.
I know who my parents and grandparents are. They can tell me who my great and great great grandparents are. One of them is still alive, we went to her 90 birthday party last year. But we may not know who my great great great parents were.
Every 10 years a census is taken. A census is a record of everyone who is in every house in the whole country on a certain day. The last census was taken in 2001 and the next will be done in 2011. The first was made in 1801. The information collected in the last 100 years is being kept secret, but the ones taken from 1801 to 1901 are now available on the internet.
This is useful. If I want to trace my family tree I can search for family names knowing from living relatives where to start. A census will tell me who was living with who and when. This may match with names on birth and or marriage certificates telling me who the parents were.
In the 1861 census I found the Le Plastrier family living at 16 Kings Road, Islington, London. Sophia is the head of the family. Her husband, William Louis, had died in 1855 so she was a widow with 6 children. The eldest was William Merry, my Great Great Great Grandfather.
It’s a detective game, and since I’ve started the rest of the family has joined in.