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Understanding GRO Index searches
There are separate registers and indexes for birth, marriage and deaths. From the start of registration in 1837 until 1984 each registration year is divided up into the four quarters of March, June, September and December. Within each quarter the surnames in each register are arranged alphabetically. This means that four separate quarters’ indexes would need to be searched per year.
March Quarter: covers events registered in January, February and March
June Quarter: covers events registered in April, May and June
September Quarter: covers events registered in July, August and September
December Quarter: covers events registered in October, November and December
The earliest index available is for the September quarter 1837. After 1984 the GRO discontinued the quarterly divisions of the indexes in favour of a yearly arrangement.
Important points to remember when searching the indexes
1) Variation in the spellings of forenames and surnames may vary both in the indexes and the actual registers and this must be taken into account when searching for an entry.
2) Although marriages were usually registered on the actual date they took place, it is important to remember that the date the birth or death was registered at the local registry office may not always be the date when the event took place.
For example births were required to be registered within six weeks so if a child was born on December 25th 1840 and the birth was registered before December 31st then birth entry would be found in the December 1840 Quarter of the indexes. If however the same birth which took place on 25th December 1840 was not registered until January 12th 1841 then the birth registration would appear in the March 1841 Quarters birth index.
3) Deaths had to be registered within 8 days of the event until 1874 act after that before 5 days of the date of death.
4) There are separate entries in the marriage indexes for the bride and groom. You can search either by the surname of the groom or the maiden name of the bride.