Civil Registration of Marriages in England & Wales

July 1837 to December 1983

2,358 Ramsdale & Variant Surname Entries

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Ramsdale surname data extracted from the General Register Office Indexes maintained by the Familyrecords.gov.uk Consortium. There are 2,358 Ramsdale and variant surname entries recorded between July 1837 and December 1983.

Index

Civil Registration - Background

Before 1837, only churches recorded birth, marriage, and death information in England. In the early 1800s, Parliament recognised the need for accurate records for voting, planning, and defence purposes. Birth, marriage, and death registrations for England and Wales began on 1 July 1837.

The basis of civil registration is the registration district. Each county is divided into districts. Each district has a superintendent registrar. Registrars receive birth and death registrations from individuals; the performing minister or other responsible official registers marriages.

Marriages performed by Church of England ministers are recorded by the clergy, who quarterly send copies of the marriages they perform to the district and to the Registrar-General. The ministers keep the original marriage register in the parish chest.

Quaker and Jewish marriages are registered by their own representatives directly with the Registrar-General in London.

Until 1898, the district superintendent registrar registered other nonconformist marriages and performed civil marriages.

Each quarter, the superintendent registrar forwards copies of his district's registrations to the Registrar-General in London. The original birth and death (and those marriages recorded by the registrar) records remain in the district.

People had to report all births and deaths to the registrar. An estimated 90-95% of births and nearly all deaths and marriages were recorded. However, no penalty was imposed for failure to register until 1874. By 1875, 99% of all births, marriages, and deaths were recorded.

If a civil birth, marriage, or death certificate cannot be located a search of church records may verify known details or give additional information.

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Indexes to Civil Registration Records

Indexes can help you find an entry for your ancestor. The Registrar General creates nationwide indexes after receiving quarterly returns. These indexes are arranged by calendar quarter and give name, registration district, volume, and page number. Later indexes include the following:

With the index reference, you can send for the certificate (see above). If you cannot locate an index entry, consider the following reasons:

Knowing the district name and at least an approximate year in which the birth, marriage, or death occurred will reduce the search time.

Places in the index are registration districts, which are not usually the same as the actual place of birth. In rural areas, many villages and parishes belong to one district. Large cities have many districts.

The following sources will help identify the district which served the place where the ancestors lived:

A Guide to the Arrangement of the Registration Districts Listed in the Indexes to the Civil Registration of England and Wales 2nd edition contains nineteenth century maps and lists of districts.

If the index reference cannot be found, consider sending a request to the superintendent registrar's district in England. If that request is unsuccessful, search other types of records.

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Marriages Information Recorded in Civil Registers

Marriage records give the marriage date, place, and denomination (if a church marriage); the names of the bride and groom, whether they were single or widowed, and their ages, occupations, and residences at the time of marriage; the names and occupations of their fathers (and often whether deceased); and the signatures of the bride, groom, and witnesses.

The law required all marriages to be recorded in a civil register immediately after the ceremony. Marriages were often performed at the bride's parish.

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Key dates for records in England and Wales

Marriages
1 July 1837

Introduction of General Civil Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths in England and Wales

September quarter 1837 to December quarter 1911

only first two full forenames, subsequent initials, registration district and ref number

March quarter 1912 to September quarter 1962

if female was previously married, index shows maiden name and married name

March quarter 1912 to present day

surname of spouse added

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Follow this link for a full listing of all the GRO Registration Districts:

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Searching for a marriage

The churches in England & Wales have been recording baptisms, marriages and burials at parish level for centuries. However, the civil registration of births, marriages and deaths – in other words, record-keeping by the state – did not begin until July 1837. At that time, the legal jurisdiction of England & Wales was subdivided, for the purposes of registration, into administrative areas known as registration districts. Within each district a district registrar would be appointed to take responsibility for the recording of births, marriages and deaths within their district.

Four times a year, a copy of the district registers was made for the Registrar General, who ingathered all the registers for England & Wales and collated them into a single countrywide index, arranged alphabetically by surname (and then alphabetically by forename within each surname). The indexes to the registers are quarterly rather than annual in scope – the four quarters being known as March, June, September and December. Each of these covers the month itself and the two preceding months, as follows:

·        January, February, March registrations in the March quarter

·        April, May, June registrations in the June quarter

·        July, August, September registrations in the September quarter

·        October, November, December registrations in the December quarter

Note that, for the researcher, marriages, unlike births, have the advantage of being registered immediately at the time of the event.

Normally, then, where you have an exact date of marriage, you will find the entry for the marriage you are looking for in the same quarter.

Please note that our marriage records do not extend as far as the present day. Marriages suffer an unfortunate delay in reaching the central register, as (unlike births and deaths) the information relating to marriages has to be collated from churches and other religious establishments as well as district register offices.

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Troubleshooting

Of the three events of birth, marriage and death, marriages might be the event where most inaccuracies are recorded – sometimes by accident and sometimes by design. The field on the certificate which must be regarded with most caution is that for age – note that what is recorded is declared age rather than proven age. It is therefore not uncommon for bride and/or groom to allow themselves some latitude and – how shall we say? – modify their respective ages. This might be done especially to reduce a disparity in age, where one party is significantly younger than the other. Some early certificates unhelpfully state merely that the bride and/or groom were “of full age”, which only suggests that they were over the age of majority, being 21 years of age at that time, and able to marry without their parents’ consent.

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Bigamy

Sometimes, a bride or groom might be coy about their marital condition. Previous marriages might be concealed from partners, even when the marriage has been terminated by death or legally dissolved. Bigamy is not so very uncommon that you can rule out the possibility of finding it on your own family tree. In any event, be prepared to treat with caution all declarations of marital status found on marriage certificates.

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Where in the country?

Marriages traditionally took place in the parish of the bride, which may or may not be located in the same registration district as the parish of the groom. Eloping was probably more common in fiction than in life but do not be surprised if you find the marriage of an ancestor out of area. You might even want to consider Scottish records for those whose idea of romantic included Gretna Green!

It is a common misapprehension that what we would now call common law relationships were rare in the Victorian era. They may have been rarer but they were not so uncommon that you should feel shocked or startled to discover apparent evidence of them on your own tree.

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In whose name?

The indexes record each marriage under the names of both bride and groom, so for every one marriage their will be two entries in the indexes. From March 1912 the spouse’s name was recorded on the indexes so, if you know both names, the correct entry should be immediately identifiable Before that date, where you know both names you will need to cross-reference any candidate entries against the other surname to see if there is a match. You are looking for a name match first and foremost but need to verify this against the registration district, volume and page number, which will always be identical. It is sensible to search under the more distinctive of the two names, unless you believe that this surname is at serious risk of being mis-spelt or being subject to spelling variation.

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Divorces

Divorce records contain information on family members, their marital history (including marriage date and place), property, residences, and sometimes dates of events such as the children's births.

Divorce required an act of Parliament until 1857 and was uncommon before the mid-twentieth century. Records of parliamentary divorce acts are at House of Lords Library, London, SW1A 0PW.

Civil divorce registration began in 1858. These divorce records are confidential for 75 years. Records more than 75 years old can be consulted at the Public Record Office, Kew. Indexes for 1858 to 1937 are also available.

Relatives of divorced persons may obtain information on divorces that occurred in the last 75 years by contacting The Principal Registry of the Family Division, First Avenue House, 42 - 49 High Holborn, London WC1V 6NP (Tel: 020 7947 7000).

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Follow these links for full listings of GRO entries for marriages under the surname Ramsdale and its close variants for the years 1837 - 1983:



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