Civil records

This guide was last updated in 2009

Birth, marriage and death certificates are the foundations on which to build your family tree.

Birth certificates will provide details of your ancestor’s full name, parents’ names (including mother’s maiden name), father’s occupation and the family address.

Marriage certificates will provide the full names of the bride and groom, together with their addresses immediately prior to the wedding, as well recording their respective fathers’ names and occupations.

Death certificates will provide details of an ancestor’s age (enabling you to determine their date of birth), and address prior to death.

The registration of births, marriages and deaths commenced generally in Ireland in 1864 (non-Catholic marriage registration commenced in 1845). For Northern Ireland, a central index is held by the General Register Office in Belfast (GRONI), which you can visit in person. Provided you have details of your ancestor’s approximate year of birth, marriage or death, and location (townland, parish or county), you can apply for a search and a copy certificate online from the GRONI website.

For the Republic of Ireland, the central index can be searched at the General Register Office in Dublin (GRO), and should you require a copy certificate, a search form can be downloaded from the GRO website.

The Church of the Latter Day Saints Family History Library (LDS) also holds copies of the central indexes, and more importantly, has many birth, marriage and death records (copied from the original registers) on microfilm. These can be viewed at the Family History Centre in Hyde Park, London, or ordered from other Family History Centres in the UK.

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