How to look for records of... Births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

View online

How many are online?

  • None
  • Some
  • All

Order copies

We can either copy our records onto paper or deliver them to you digitally

Pay for research

Use our paid search service or find an independent researcher

Visit us

Visit us in Kew to see original documents or view online records for free

This is a brief guide to help you with your research. Records of births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales are kept in various places, but not usually at The National Archives. This guide will help you to find out where else you can look.

What do I need to know before I start?

Try to find out:

  • the person’s name (and name of their parents, spouse or next of kin, where applicable)
  • the approximate date of the birth, marriage or death
  • the district where the event is likely to have taken place

What records can I see online?

Indexes to birth, marriage and death registrations (1837 to present)

Search birth, marriage and death indexes on Some commercial websites (£) also have the indexes such as Findmypast and Ancestry. For more information see the General Register Office family history page on GOV.UK.

Non-conformist registers (primarily before 1837)

Registers of non-conformist births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials are held by The National Archives in record series RG4 – RG8 and are available online.

Search BMDregisters (£) for records of:

  • non-conformist and other non-parochial births and baptisms, deaths and burials, and some marriages for the 17th-19th centuries (RG4, RG5, RG8)
  • clandestine (irregular) marriages up to 1754 (RG 7)
  • Quaker (or Religious Society of Friends) births, marriages and deaths up to 1837 (RG 6)

Note the BMD registers ‘advanced search’ option and ‘RG Books’ tab which will help you to search more specifically.

The nonconformist (RG4, RG5, RG 8), clandestine (RG7) and Quaker (RG6) registers are also available on Ancestry (£) where they can be searched or browsed using the ‘browse this collection’ option on the right hand side of the search page. This allows you to browse by series, place or denomination.

Selected church marriage registers (1837-c1920)

View some church marriage registers from 1837 up to the 1920s on Ancestry and Findmypast.

What records can I find in other archives and organisations?

Birth, marriage and death certificates (1837 to present)

Order birth, marriage or death certificates either from the General Register Office (£), or from the relevant local register office (£).

Indexes to birth, marriage and death registrations (1837 to present)

Use the GOV.UK website to find out which libraries, archives and record offices keep birth, marriage and death indexes on microfiche.

Parish registers (before 1837)

Find the parish register in a local archive to locate baptism, marriage and burial records before 1837. Look up the parish using English jurisdications 1851 or in The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers, 3rd edition, edited by Cecil R. Humphery-Smith (Phillimore, 2003).

What other resources will help me find information?


Search for birth, baptism, marriage and some burial records on the FamilySearch website. Geographical coverage is patchy but the index provides a useful pointer to relevant parish registers.

Search for birth, baptism, marriage and burial records on Ancestry (£) findmypast (£) and Deceased Online (£).


Search The National Archives’ bookshop to see whether any of the publications below may be avaliable to buy. Alternatively, look in The National Archives’ Library catalogue to see what is available to consult at Kew.

David Annal and Audrey Collins, Birth, marriage and death records: a guide for family historians (Pen & Sword 2012)

Did you know?

Birth, marriage and death certificates cannot be viewed or ordered at The National Archives.

The General Register Office (GRO) keeps all certificates of births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales since 1837.

Civil registration began on 1 July 1837 and no central records of births, marriages or deaths exist before that date.

If you are tracing a birth, marriage or death before 1 July 1837, look for parish registers in local archives.

As most non-conformists were obliged to marry in the Church of England between 1754 and 1837, it is possible to find records of their marriages in Church of England parish registers.

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