Monday, 2 November 2015

English and Welsh 1939 register now online

The 1939 National Identity Register for England and Wales is now online at FindmyPast (

I have previously obtained information for my grandfather's cousin Reverend William Paton in the census, when it was possible to obtain info for free via the National Health Service Information Centre (prior to them imposing a £42 search fee). The following was the info I found:

William's address was 27 Beaconsfield Road in St. Albans. William was noted as having been born on 13 NOV 1886, married and a minister of religion. His national registration number was also given as DEPB 154/1. With him in the house were his wife Grace, born 29 JAN 1887 and performing 'unpaid domestic duties' (no: DEPB 154/2), his son William D. M. Paton, born 5 MAY 1917 and a medical student (no: DEPB 154/4), his daughter Elizabeth M. Paton, born 13 OCT 1919 and a student, and two further individuals, most likely boarders - Ellen O. S. Todd, born 14 JUN 1924, 'at school' (no: DEPB 154/6), and Liesel Rosenwald, born 9 OCT 1926 and also 'at school' (no: DEPB 154/7). The FOI information only listed those who were now deceased who had been enumerated, and it can be seen that someone with the national registration number of DEPB 154/3 was not included.

In carrying out a search on FindmyPast for the same entry, I have had quite a shock. William Paton born 1886 is indeed found in St. Albans. However, rather than one member's entry being closed to access, the site is telling me that there are two more available entries for consultation in the household, but FIVE more in the house which are closed to access. Whilst that seems to be one more person in the house than the NHSIC revealed, it does not inspire much confidence as to what has been actually made accessible for that household.

Clearly this is just one test search (it is 2am!), but not an impressive start. I'll play a bit more with it tomorrow, and come back with a fuller review then.

UPDATE: Please see for a slightly more upbeat appraisal after a few more searches.


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  1. I have a similar issue -- I already have the record for the address where my mother was resident -- 5 identifiable people (including my mother) in 2 separate households at the same address, plus an indication that there were other individuals who could not be identified as they weren't known to be deceased. Findmypast offers 2 households, each of which has 2 identifiable individuals (presumably because they were born before 1915). My mother's household has 2 'closed' individuals -- one of whom will be her, and one of whom I have no idea about... And I can't be absolutely certain I have the right household because an address search on the street involved only shows 6 houses instead of 9! Goodness knows what the others are indexed under. Not impressed so far...

  2. As you say, DEPB 154/3 was redacted from the manual request, but so also was /5 - and maybe there was a /8 as well???? That would make a total of 8 = 1 + 2 + 5 as per the system. What appears on the enumerator's handwritten schedule? Is there a blocked out line for /8? (Is that how redaction works on FMP?)

    As for the fact that FMP redacts more than the manual request - I'm sure when you're awake properly (though I admire your dedication!) - you'll consider that the manual FoI request need not have been correct. There is a Liesel Rosenwald on Ancestry's England & Wales death index, born 9 October 1926 (so sounds like your boarder) who died in 2000. Now that's after the NHS is supposed to have stopped maintaining the 1939 Register in 1991, so she has been correctly redacted by FMP as they will have (according to what we are told) no evidence of her death. Quite why the manual process gave her details I've no idea - either they blundered, the rules changed or the NHS had stuff that they have not passed to FMP about post-1991 deaths.

    (Yes, Liesel was easier to track than the others!)

  3. I haven't been able to find my granny definitively.
    The only 2 results shown are in Manchester and I thought she lived in Middlesbrough. Of course, she could have been visiting as her husband's parents lived in Manchester.

    However, the abbreviated locked results don't show the address just 'Manchester C.B' and I'm reluctant to pay £14 just on the off-chance that one of the households includes her.

    If either the address was shown or the identities of the other 'unclosed' people on the record were shown (or preferably both), I would be able to have more confidence that a household was one that I wanted to see.

    I feel that the implementation by Find My Past is not as sensible as it should have been.

  4. Are people whose records are closed, not shown in the index ?

    I can't find my mum (born 1919) in search results and she was in England and not in military service. If people whose records are closed are not shown in the index, how on earth can you definitively find them so that you can inform National Archives that they are dead so that the record can be opened ?

  5. Peter - my current understanding is that there is a closure period for births under a hundred years ago for automatic access, but also those not deceased before 1991, as FMP can't verify post 1991 deaths automatically. See my follow up post at for more on how to get FMP to try to unlock those records.

  6. My father died 1978 and he's locked. My father-in-law 1972, he's locked. My uncle 1964, he's locked. Ridiculous that WE have to provide death certificates for individuals to unlock records. How can we identify who's who on individual households with no idea of who was where and when. The very least they could have provided are their names. How to we find people who are not at home that night without a way of identifying them,

    1. I sent off 2 copies of death certificates and filled in all the information just as they asked for. Today I have an email for both people saying they need more information, though they don't say what! I have emailed them asking.

  7. I've had the same experience -- provided them with a death certificate and a copy of the information that was released to me in 2011. I've now re-sent them the same documents, plus a marriage and birth certificate. We shall see...