Do birth/death certificates exist in England & Wales prior to 1837?

+12 votes
164 views
The short answer to this is: no.  Or a longer answer: Probably not.  At least, there was no national civil system for issuing these certificates prior to 1837.  Sometimes you will find baptismal certificates.  Sometimes, if you are lucky, the person you are researching will have lived in an area with a wonderful parish clerk who wrote birthdates down in the margins of his baptism register, deathdates down in the margins of his burial register.

But if you are looking for a birth certificate for someone born in 1687 - you won't find one.  (Or at least are highly unlikely to find a birthdate - see 'wonderful parish clerk' above.)  So don't immediately (and scornfully) remove a 'date of birth' or a 'date of death' from a WikiTree field - first, look carefully and see if it has either a) been marked as 'before', or b) been commented on in the bio below.
in The Tree House by Ros Haywood G2G6 Pilot (687k points)
WikiTree could be improved by adding fields for both baptismal and burial dates. Often in church records these are the only dates given. It was the custom that baptisms should be performed as soon after the birth as possible, although that has certainly changed in "modern" times. Burials were also soon after death.

2 Answers

+5 votes
no but baptisms can be very useful if the parish clerk was helpful!
by Iain Cooke G2G6 Mach 1 (10k points)
+5 votes
This is a useful link for early English records http://dustydocs.com also this one http://www.freereg.org.uk/ I found some of my ancestors back to the 16th century using these.
by Christine Frost G2G6 Mach 3 (38.2k points)

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