Birth Records 1916-2005

These will give you a summary of births from the beginning of Civil Registration in 1837 to 2005 - which is the most current year.

When a birth is registered a certificate is filled out and given to the person who reported it. The registration information is kept on file and added to the summary register, or Index, of all the events. As in books, the Indexes won't tell you everything, but will give you key information, such as names, dates (specifically quarters) and places (the district the event occurred). They also give you all the references you need to discover more - in this case, order a birth certificate.

What can the Birth Indexes tell me?

You can get so much from a single line of text. First, there's the excitement of finally tracking down your ancestor. You can discover basic details about them, as well as attach the official record to their entry in your family tree.

You may also discover some amazing family secrets. For instance, if your ancestor's birth has been registered solely under their mother's surname, it could mean that the birth was illegitimate. If not, birth indexes after September 1911 also include the mother's maiden name and once you have this you can start searching for more information about her.

Sample records: [+] Click to magnify


A brief history of the BMD Indexes

The formal registration of births in England and Wales began on 1st July 1837 with the introduction of Civil Registration. Before this, each individual parish was responsible for maintaining their own Parish register - so for events before 1837, check our Parish Records.

While Civil Registration was meant to bring all births together in one place, it's important to know that registration was only made compulsory by law in 1875. So if you can't find your pre-1875 ancestors here, this could be why.

Search our Birth Index collection

There are different Birth Index collections to search, depending on what period in history you're searching. Using the right collection will help you get a better search result.


If you're looking for births between 1837 and 1915 search the FreeBMD collections. There is a separate birth collection for the years 1916-2005. Searching's easier with these records because you'll be given individual matches to your search. For any births before 1837, you should be searching through the Parish Registers, which you can find in our Parish Records collection.

What's my next step?

To help you go further back in your family history, you can order a birth certificate direct from us. This will give you additional vital information - like the date and place of birth, name and sex of the child, father's name and occupation and mother's name and maiden name.

Which famous people could I meet?

Robert Falcon Scott. Born 6 June 1868. Also known as "Scott of the Antarctic", he was a British Royal Navy officer and explorer who led two expeditions to the Antarctic. The first, the Discovery Expedition, was from 1901-1904. But he is best known for his second, ill-fated expedition to the South Pole, where on return journey Scott and his party died in March 1912.

Diana Frances Spencer. Born 1 July 1961. A true icon of the 20th Century, she married Prince Charles in 1981. The marriage was an unhappy one and, after a long separation, they divorced in 1996. Well known for her work with AIDS and landmine charities, "The People's Princess" died tragically on 31 August 1997.

Tommy Cooper. Born 19 March 1921. Best known for his red fez, bad magic and even worse jokes, he became a much-loved television personality, just like that. However, the bad magic was just an act - Tommy was actually a member of The Magic Circle. Sadly, after a career spanning five decades, he died as he lived much of his life - onstage.

I'm new to all this. What do I do first?

Start building your family tree

First include all the information you already know about yourself and your immediate family. To help you every step of the way, we automatically search through our records for potential matches - and give you results in seconds.

Search and attach records

There are billions of records worldwide - but searching for ancestors isn't like looking for a needle in a haystack. We'll help you search quickly and accurately. And you can attach your records to your family tree to help bring it to life.

Connect, share and grow

The Ancestry Community now has nearly 3 million members worldwide. Member Connect will help you contact other members who are researching your ancestors, share research and be notified when they add new content about your ancestors to their family trees.

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