The year 1836 saw the Marriage Act and the Births & Deaths Registration Act in England and Wales, bringing in to being registration from 1st July 1837. The country was divided in to registration districts, based largely upon the Poor Law districts already existing. Registrars had the responsibility of actively seeking out and registering the information for births and deaths. Birth Certificates In the early days, although parents had 6 weeks in which to register a birth, there was no penalty for not doing so and many people thought that baptising their children was a suitable legal alternative. Therefore, up to a third of the early birth registrations could be missing. The information that you should find on a birth certificate: · When and where born · Name, if any · Sex · Name and surname of father · Name, Surname and Maiden name of mother · Occupation of father · Signature, description and residence of informant · When registered · Signature of registrar Marriage Certificates From 1837, marriages could take place in a registry office instead of a church. Marriages that took place for Quakers, Jews and Church of England could be registered by those denominations, but Non-Conformists could only conduct a ceremony in their chapels if it had applied for a licence and a Registrar was there as well as the Minister. The information that you should find on a marriage certificate: · When married For both bride and groom: · Name and Surname · Age · Condition (Bachelor, spinster etc) · Rank or Profession · Residence at time of marriage · Fathers’ name and surname · Rank or profession of father It will also provide details of where the marriage took place, whether or not Banns were read or if it was by licence, the names of at least two witnesses, plus the name of the Minister and/or Registrar. Death Certificates The thing to remember about death certificates is that the information they hold is only as good as the knowledge of the person registering the death. Therefore, ages might not be accurate for example. The information that you should find on a death certificate: · When and where died · Name and Surname · Sex · Age · Occupation · Cause of death · Signature, description and residence of informant · When registered · Signature of registrar Rather than just having the age, deaths registered from 1969 also had the date of birth recorded. From 1874, the responsibility for registering a birth fell to the parents and if not registered within 6 weeks of the birth date, a £2.00 fine could be levied. The responsibility for registering a death now became that of a relation of the deceased as well as having to be supported by a doctor’s certificate. It also had to be registered within 5 days of the death occurring. In 1926, the Births and Deaths Registration Act meant that a Registrar's certificate or Coroner's order had to be produced before a burial or cremation could take place. This act also introduced the registration of stillborn children.