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New British un-certificates start to appear

Birth un-certificate for G H F House

Family historians with interests in the UK now have an additional choice when it comes to ordering certificates for England and Wales births since 1837. As part of a major update the UK General Record Office (GRO) now offers uncertified copies of birth and death certificates (that I have called un-certificates) for a much lower price of £6, instead of the £9.25 it costs for a regular certificate. The un-certificates may not be used as evidence of age but, for genealogists, they are just as good. We are using them as such, referring to them as birth certificates in our database for simplicity. We have already received ten such new uncertificates and they are now in the pipeline for display on our site.

This new development followed the issue earlier in November of a brand new transcription of birth and death records, issued by the GRO. They have a number of differences with other transcriptions available at FamilySearch, FreeBMD, Ancestry and FindMyPast, some of which we discuss below. They are already saving us money, because we can answer questions with them that we could not before and obviate the need to buy so many certificates.

Accessing the new Birth and Death transcriptions

Firstly, you need to go to the GRO site, here and create a log-in for yourself. It may involve an authentication code sent to your mobile phone or email account. Once in the system you should see a menu item saying "Search the GRO index" toward the top-left. Click on that and select births or deaths.

Let's look for the record above. So click on Births. In the surname box, type "House" (omit the quotes), in the given name, type "George", select Male against Gender and select 1911 in the year column. Hit the Search button and you will see a screen that looks like the one you just completed (it's the government and they are trying, let's be fair!). However, scroll down and you will see a list of the five George Houses born in 1911. Note particularly that the mother's name is shown. Now go back to the top, click on Death and hit Search again, and you will see the four George Houses who died in 1911.

Improvements

1) The mother's name is now shown for all births. Previously this was only available for births after July 1911.

2) The age at death is now shown for all deaths. Previously this was only available for deaths after July 1866, One wrinkle: the small GRO had the number transcribed but forgot to add a field for units of time. Consequently a child who died age 2 months, or 2 hours, is now shown as age 2 at death!

3) The full name of each person is now shown - so the George House in our example has all his given names transcribed and that his mother's name was correctly shown as Clark and not Oliver, the name by which she was married to George's father.

It is worth adding that the search function has its quirks and is not as flexible as FreeBMD, which we still use for most tasks. For example, you can only search for five-year periods, eg, 1911 +/- 2 years.

How are we using this new facility?

i) finding the parents of those born between the 1911 census and July 1911 when the mother's name was already available

ii) finding the identity of children who were born and died between census dates

iii) finding the correct parents of children with similar names and dates of birth

iv) finding the parents of children born early in the registration period after-1837 (the mother's maiden name)

v) identifying which person died when before 1866

vi) finding the full name of people with initials in the prior index

vii) using the search function to look for other children with the same mother

STOP PRESS, as I was typing the above, I noticed that the facility to order cheap un-certificates has been withdrawn. The original publicity suggested that it would be stopped after an intitial 45,000 had been bought. I suspect it will be replaced at some point. So keep an eye on the press, the GRO site or your favourite facebook pages for updates.

Paul. December 2016