Your Irish Lineage

  • StephanieYIL

BMD'S: Birth, Marriage & Death Certificates

A major part of your family history research will involve searching for civil registrations, as they often provide slightly more information than church records. I will detail exactly what you can draw from these records and how to use them effectively to further your family tree.

How to access BMD records

Head to your family history site of choice, Familysearch is free if you do not want to join sites like Ancestry that require a subscription. If you know the surnames of either parent you can enter these into the search fields and therefore, may be able to narrow down your search through transcribed church records. If not, head straight to Irish genealogy. Here you can enter your ancestor's names and county of origin to find the original document. Read here for an in depth look at Irishgenealogy.


Birth records start from 1864 and images are available from 1864-1916. As with census's, the 100 year rule applies, meaning that records may only be made public after 100 years have passed, this is to protect the privacy of those who could possibly be living.

What information do these records provide?

  • Date and place of birth

  • First and middle names

  • Sex

  • Fathers name and address

  • Mothers name and maiden name

  • Fathers occupation

  • Informants name, eligibility for registering the birth, and address.

  • Date of registration.

Things to note

  • The irishgenealogy search results generally do not display middle names. Therefore in the above case the search results only read Mary, but upon opening the full certificate she is named Mary anne. This is important as many people went by their middle name later in life, so try to view all images for the relevant years just to be sure.

  • Take note of the address of the family as this may be a distinguishing factor later on in your research.

  • The informant (person who registers the birth), is one to look for always. Those eligible to register a birth must be the parents or someone who was present at birth. Most of the time it was the parents however, other informants are worth researching, even if they do not share the same surname, as they could be family. In the above case, Anne Carty is obviously a relation to Mary, therefore she is worth a general search of her own. Search for a marriage certificate and and birth record to gauge a relationship. In this case I was able to discover that Anne Carty is the sister of Mary Hamilton.

  • Women who were unmarried could not register the father's name even if the father was involved in the child's life. Look for marriages soon after the baby's birth, any later on and the man may not be the child's father. If the child gets married in the future, the father's name may be listed however this may not be reliable, as they may possibly name a stepfather instead.


My favourite of all the civil records has to be marriage records. These certificates provide the most information compared to the other two collections, as they further your family tree another generation. Available images are from 1870 - 1941 as they are constrained to the 75 year rule.

What information do these records provide?

  • Date of marriage

  • Full names of Bride and Groom

  • Ages/ or in some cases if over 21 it may just say 'Full aged'

  • Marital status - Bachelor/spinster/widower

  • Profession

  • Residence

  • Father's full name

  • Fathers profession

  • Witnesses

Things to note

  • The age of the ancestor along with a fathers name, means you have a head start when searching for birth records. The only thing missing is the mothers name, and you will have to weigh up other evidence to help you pin point your ancestor's birth certificate.

  • Residence at time of marriage may be relevant in the future i.e when distinguishing between two Robert Monaghans of a similar age, both married to Catherines in county Wexford, trust me... there is!

  • Take note of the church they married at, there may be different witnesses and these could be family members.

  • Keep in mind that with all records, information may not be all together correct, so keep and open mind. For example with the above certificate, the ages are nice round figures. Although not necessarily impossible, knowing what I know I suspect these ages are estimates.

  • There will often be the letter D, Dec or Deceased under the name of father, if he had died before the date of the wedding. This means you know to search for death records before this date.

  • His or her mark means they were illiterate.


Death certificates will provide the least amount of information of all three. They do not tend to further your family tree but rather provide the last bit information for that persons life. However sometimes they can provide that little bit of inspiration for further research. Available images are from 1878-1966. They fall under the 50 year privacy rule.

What information do these records provide?

  • Date of death

  • Full name

  • Sex

  • Marital status

  • Age

  • Profession

  • Cause of death

  • Informants name, relationship and address

  • Date of registration

Things to note

  • Marital status, if widowed you know to search for a death certificate of the spouse before this date.

  • Cause of death may indicate something dramatic, if so you could look through newspaper archives to find the event.

  • The Informant may be a relative you do not have on the family tree.


Civil records are vitally important for researching your Irish lineage. My takeaway thought would be to cast your net wide. Some ancestors will be easy to trace and others may not. Take the time to view as many images as possible relating to your ancestor's surname. You may find family connections under first names you may had otherwise ignored. View the below map for registration districts in the said county, DON'T assume there is one! In wexford there are four, and life events may be registered in bordering districts.

138 views0 comments


Your details were sent successfully!