Hints and Tips on using the Index Search Pages.
- Can I search more than one year or region at a time?
- I don't know the first name. How can I help identify which entry is the one I'm looking for?
- Do I need to enter an Initial?
- What if the name is mis-spelled in the records?
- How do I order a certificate?
- How can I speed up my search?
- Is any other help available?
1. Can I search more than one year or region at a time?
Yes. As you scroll through the lists, you can cause multiple years or regions to be
selected by holding down the Control key at the same time as you click with
If you know the area in which the person was born/married, but don't know the first name,
you should select Order: by Reference Number instead of Alphabetically
This will cause the results to be grouped by area, giving you a better chance of spotting
No, but if you can, it greatly reduces the number of items displayed, and, for example,
in the case of SMITH marrying SMITH it will ensure that the person you
are interested in will be displayed in the leftmost column.
As discussed in the information pages on Births
and Marriages, transcription errors
do happen. If you suspect that a name has been mis-spelled, you have several
options in the search to specify that you wish the search to look for names that sound
similar but spelled differently or incorrectly. Click on the button that matches one of the
- Exact: as it suggests, this will search for exact matches of a name.
- Soundex: The Soundex algorithm was developed by the imigration department
of the USA to help catalogue thousands of people arriving there. It works by keeping the
first letter of the surname, and then encoding the remaining letters in to a numerical code
based on letters that sound the same. So if you choose this option, you will see, for example,
SMITH will return matches on SMITH, SMITHE and SMYTHE (and other names too).
- Near: A limitation of the Soundex code is that it assumes that first letter is correct.
Often with silent W's and dropped H's this is not true.
Near matching takes this into account and so would match HARTAS to ARTAS.
(HARTAS is my surname, hence why I spotted the problem!)
- Vague: This takes the Near match a stage further and tries to catch as many
possibilities as it can by looking for names which overlap, but don't fall into the category
above, for example, TARBUCK and STARBUCK. Beware, this can return some weird matches, but
ought to catch most missing links!
Find the reference number of the birth or marriage that you are interested in using the
search forms. The last column of the search output will be the reference number.
Clicking on this reference number as it will be add the entry to a
summary page. This summary page will remember
your search results as you navigate around the various UKBMD web sites. Once you have completed
all your searches and then wish to order copy certificates, the reference numbers on the
summary page are links to a printable application forms.
This form will already have the reference number, names and places filled in.
Alternatively, several regions of the country offer online ordering which can be initiated from the
The form displayed will also show the address to send the certificate to.
Note: that the addresses for each of the Register Offices involved in this
project differ. If you send your application to the wrong office, you risk having
Further information on where to send your applications
can be found in the appropriate pages for Births, Marriages and Deaths.
There are thousands of records in this collection. If you limit your
search to a small set of years and regions, you will greatly reduce the amount
of data searched.
If you can further refine your search by giving an Initial, you reduce the
amount of data sent over the internet, and hence reduce the time that your computer
takes to display it.
Further general questions and answers are on our FAQ page.
If we haven't answered your question here, you may like to look at the main
Frequently Asked Questions page or contact the
Bath BMD Webmaster
detailing your query
and we'll do our best to answer it. We also welcome suggestions for improving this service, but
please remember, we offer this service in our spare time, so please be patient in waiting for