British BMD. Registration

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Timeline - British Birth, Marriage, & Death Registration

No. From To Subject Detail
1 1538 Parish Registration Official parish registration introduced. Loose sheets of paper were used most of which have not survived
2 1551 1854 Scotland Parish Registration Parish registration introduced in Scotland for births and marriages
3 1597 Bound Registers By an Act of Parliament, bound registers were made mandatory for baptisms, marriages and burials. Duplicate sets had to be lodged with the bishops each year (Bishops' Transcripts)
4 1653 1660 Elected Parish Register Registration transferred to an elected Parish Register (Registrar)
5 1660 Restoration of church registration End of the Interregnum and responsibility for compiling and maintaining registers returned to the previous system
6 1753 Hardwike's Marriage Act Specified that couples had to marry in a parish in which one of them lived; banns had to be called or a license issued in advance. Marriages had to take place in a licensed building which was invariably Church of England except for Jews and Quakers. Non-conformists and Roman Catholics had to register with their parish church. Effective 1754
7 1812 Rose's Act Standardised the format of registers into three separate books for baptisms, marriages and deaths. Effective 1 January 1813
8 1837 Civil Registration A voluntary system of civil registration introduced and marriages could take place at a registrar's office. Effective 1 July 1837
9 1845 1922 Ireland Civil registration Civil registration of non Roman Catholic marriages introduced
10 1854 Scotland Civil Registration Act of Parliament passed enabling civil registration. This Act made registration compulsory and also abolished the previous Scottish system. Initially contained details of birth places and previous marriages but these were quickly dropped, although birth places were re-introduced in 1972. Effective 1 January 1855
11 1864 1922 Ireland Civil Registration Registration of all births marriages and deaths introduced
12 1866 Amendment to death details Age at death to be included in the death registers. Effective March 1866
13 1874 Amendment to birth and death registration Registration of births and Deaths made mandatory
14 1911 Amendment to birth details Mother's maiden name added to birth indexes. Effective September 1911
15 1912 Amendment to Spouse's Surname Spouse's surname added to the index of registrations. Effective March 1912
16 1922 Separation of Ireland Following the creation of the Republic of Ireland, the Nothern Ireland and Southern Ireland records were separately compiled.
17 1927 Still births and adoptions Registration of still births and adoptions introduced
18 1929 Marriage age Minimum age for marriage increased to 16 years
19 1969 Amendment to death details Date of birth added to death certificates (if known)
20 2005 Civil Partnerships Recognition and registration of Civil Partnerships introduced

Franchise Changes 1884 to 2010

No. From To Subject Detail
1 1884 1918 3rd Reform Act Extended Franchise to most men over 21 years of age. Domestic Residence qualifcation of 12 months
2 1918 1928 Representation of the People Act Extended Franchise to most women over 30 years of age. Domestic Residence qualifcation reduced to 6 months
3 1928 1969 Equal Franchise Act Extended Franchise to most women over 21 years of age.
4 1969 Voting Age Extended Franchise to most men and women over 18 years of age.

Except where otherwise stated the timeline relates to England and Wales. In general where a "To Date" is not given the Act has not been repealed.

BMDs: It is hoped that if, like me, you regularly need to check when various changes were made in the recording of BMDs the timeline will prove a ready reference. It should be noted that before civil registration became compulsory records were often incomplete; indeed at a census in 1801 of 850 Scottish parishes only 99 compiled registers regularly. Many of the Irish records were destroyed by fire in 1922.

Franchise: Even in 1884 less than 30% of adults were entitled to vote. Prior to then the right to vote included various factors eg. where one lived, income, rates (local taxes) paid and the value of domestic/business hereditaments.


The BMD Timeline, formatted for Legacy Family Tree may be downloaded from here

then "save as" a ".txt" file to ~\Legacy\Timelines\English

findmypast Link

Corrections, comments and suggestions are welcome, so please use the contact facility below.


The above information is given without warranty either expressed or implied

The content last updated 31 January 2010