Friday, 6 February 2015

Paving the way to a GRO based England's and Wales' People style service

The London based Society of Genealogists ( is reporting that the Westminster Government has accepted an amendment to its Deregulation Bill which will allow for the publication of information from GRO issued vital registers for births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales, in a manner beyond the issue of a formally certified, and expensive, certificate.

At the moment genealogists in England and Wales are second class citizens within the United Kingdom when it comes to accessing historic records, which cost £10 each to purchase from local superintendent registrars' services, or £9.25 each from the English and Welsh GRO based at Southport ( By contrast, although official Scottish certificates are £12 each, and Northern Irish certificates are £15 each, there are alternative, and much cheaper means of access - for Scotland, via the ScotlandsPeople website ( and the ScotlandsPeople Centre service (, and in Northern Ireland via the GENI service at, the search room facility at the GRONI in Belfast (, as well as a cheap photocopy extract service for pre-1922 BMD records provided by the GRO in the Republic of Ireland (

Commenting on the announcement, the SoG's genealogist Else Churchill said “Having worked for over 15 years to reform the GRO system and to gain better access to this vital information for family historians in non-certified form I am delighted that the Government has at last paved the way for a more efficient and cost effective service encompassing modern technology.” The full announcement, including discussion from the parliamentary proceedings via Hansard, is accessible at

Whilst this announcement does not in itself create an England's and Wales' People type service, it does remove the barrier to such a provision being made. For too long those seeking ancestral records from England and Wales have been ignored in seeking a solution, and should no longer be discriminated against on economic grounds simply because they wish to note who their ancestors were. It will be interesting to see how - and indeed, if - this develops further.

(With thanks to the SoG and the FFHS)


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