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Exploring Manx Records: The BMD Registers And Their Uses

Within the realms of planning family history and genealogy, the importance of being able to search the birth, marriage and death registers for information about people you are researching in the past is a very important thing. For one thing, they offer an incredibly personal insight into the lives of your immediate family. In some cases, they can throw up more questions than they answer, but that is all part of the fun of researching a family tree and getting to know your roots!

What you will find on a BMD certificate

You may have found your ancestor in the BMD records online at Manx BMD and you’re ready to order their certificate. What information can you expect to find on it and how can it help you?

Birth certificate

This will contain the following:

When the birth is added to the index, it is the year of registration and place of registration which is included, not the year and place of birth. Someone who was born in December, may not have been registered until January the following year.

Marriage certificate

This will contain the following:

Marriages which take place in a registry office or non-Church of England place of worship are referred to as Dissenter marriages. Knowing this can be important when looking for a marriage entry. Marriages which take place in a Church of England will have the following sentence at the bottom of the certificate: "Married in the Parish Church according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Established Church" and then the name of the vicar. Those which take place in a "Dissenter" might have the following: "Married in the [Name of Church] according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Catholic Church" or "... Rites and Ceremonies of the Methodists..."

Death certificate

This will contain the following:

What may bring you to search the BMD registers?

There are many reasons people come to search the BMD registers for their ancestors. When beginning research, it can be the ideal place to start to simply look for the first piece in the jigsaw such as the birth of a grandparent, or the maiden name of their grandmother. This can very often be the key to unlocking the next generation back in time. Some people may decide to take the step to order certificates online because they have discovered family possessions amongst their belongings. Sometimes these are engraved or have inscriptions - for instance, sacred texts like bibles or hymn books. This can then lead onto an investigation of the names within and how they came to be handed down. During the Victorian period religion was the mainstay of people’s lives and items such as this would be commonplace in many houses and therefore likely to be handed down person to person. The same can be said of items like photographs too, particularly if they are dated and annotated with information that can help someone establish when and where it was taken, in order than they can identify the people in them. These can all help you make a start. In some cases an oral tradition is all that exists - stories which are handed down and can later be investigated by an inquiring mind.

Why BMD records are so important to the researcher

The census is an incredibly useful research tool, in that it can show us a snapshot in time, it tells us where the people we are researching were at a particular date in a particular year. We will be able to see who our ancestors were living with, the type of house they lived in, their occupations and their neighbours and other people who lived nearby. From this we can build up some semblance of a picture of their lives. However, it is the role of the BMD certificate to fill in the gaps (as it were) and to show us how our families came together in the first place and how they developed over time.

Searching the Birth register for instance, might help you to find the births of children who were born between censuses but did not survive long enough to be included.

The Marriage register can be useful in helping to find maiden names of women, so that you can trace their lines back further and deeper. The Death register can help you in your quest to track probate for family members – once you establish a death, you can then search to see if they left a will behind and what (if anything) they left behind to their loved ones.