The first step is to gather all the information you can from relatives such as:
Look at documents such as:
any birth, death or marriage certificates already held
Draw up a basic family tree to give you an idea of the gaps that you will need to fill. Then work backwards using information known already about relatives. Census records are very useful in finding out the names of other family members.
If, for example, you know your grandmother’s date and place and birth, apply for her birth certificate and this will give you her parent’s full names including her mother’s maiden surname. Your next step would then be to search for her parent’s marriage certificate which you should find through searching the family records indexes. These indexes are available to search on various websites, some free of charge.
How far do the Register Office’s records go back?
Civil registration of births, deaths and marriages started on 1st July 1837 and so our records go back to then (please note, we only hold records for the Leicestershire area). Before July 1837, the Churches recorded baptisms, burials and marriage banns, some of which are held at the Leicestershire and Rutland Record Office in Wigston.
Where can I get help tracing my family history?
Registration staff at Leicestershire will be more than willing to help you as much as possible and there are many groups and organisations specialising in family history or genealogy that should be able to help. You could try searching on the internet, or visit your local library and there are many books written on the subject.
What information do I need to obtain an old birth, death or marriage certificate?
We will need to know the name, year and the registration district and any other information you may have.
How do I use the index search facility?
Put in a surname (that’s a mandatory field), leave out the forename, choose a year range which includes the date you suspect may be correct, click all sub-districts and see what results are produced. If there are too many results and you are unsure of the correct one, refine your search by choosing a sub-district and a forename. Alternatively, if no results are shown, try using the near and quick search options which will offer more random results. Try searching our online indexes
What do I do if the entry I am looking for hasn’t yet been transcribed?
If you are unable to supply precise information then it may take longer for us to locate the entry to which you are referring. Please complete the manual certificate application form with all the information you have. In some cases we may not be able to determine the actual entry. If you are uncertain of the date of an event we will search for a five-year period (2 years either side of your suggested date (e.g. you suggest 1885, we will search 1883 to 1887) but unfortunately, we do not have the resources for extensive searches of the indexes.
Why are the reference numbers different from the national marriage indexes?
The national indexes of marriages in England and Wales list all persons married in each quarter year from 1837 and are now kept and accessed online at the General Register Office. They show the name of the bride or groom, the surname of the spouse (from 1912 only), the name of the registration district (as it existed at the time of the marriage), and a volume and page number which is unique to the General Register Office (GRO).
Every three months since July 1837, local registrars and Church of England ministers have been required to send copies of their marriage register entries to the GRO. For various reasons, sometimes marriages were missed, or details were copied incorrectly from the register; this can usually explain differences between certificates ordered by the GRO and those obtained from local register offices. Generally speaking, registers and indexes held by the local offices are less prone to error, and should therefore be more accurate than those at the GRO.