The U.K. National Archives' collection of nonconformist birth, marriage and death records from 1567 has gone online for the first time. A new partnership project between The National Archives and S&N Genealogy Supplies means that you can now access images of these records online. BMD Registers provides access to the non-parochial and nonconformist registers 1567-1840 held in RG 4 and RG 5.
The announcement states that birth, marriage and death records are crucial tools for anyone researching their family history. Before 1837, when civil registration was introduced in England and Wales, church registers provided an important source of information on births, baptisms, marriages and burials.
The National Archives holds 5,000 registers of a huge variety of nonconformist congregations, including Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Protestant Dissenters (known as 'Dr Williams Library') and Independents. There are also registers from a small number of Roman Catholic communities. Basic searching is free of charge, but there is a fee for advanced searching and to download images.
The entries are rich in detail and may include material about up to three generations of a family, helping you to add many branches to your family trees.
The Hidden Records
Birth, marriage and death records are the most important way of tracking down your ancestors. The trouble is the BMD records in the General Record Office main index only go back as far as 1837 and even then many events are missing from these records due to the nature of the material.
The hidden birth, marriage and death records have been compiled from various unpublished registries and many unusually include records of three generations of a family. These are a fantastic resource for the family historian and often prove to be the only record of the events.
The returns from various registries were submitted to the GRO but it was felt as these events were not part of the official system they would not be included in the standard GRO index. These records are now held at The National Archives.
Genealogy Supplies recognised the importance of the records and applied and won the bid to make these available online as part of The National Archives LIA scheme. This new release of online records means that for the first time these additional BMD records can be searched with ease rather than looking through millions of images on thousands of reels of microfilm.
As well as discovering details about your own family history, you can also find records of famous names from the past, such as Mary Shelley (Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin), Florence Nightingale and William Blake.
When the project is complete you will also be able to access further miscellaneous birth, marriage and death records from the series RG 6-8, RG 32-36 and BT 158-160. These include records of Quakers, of foreign congregations in England and of clandestine marriages before 1754, as well as miscellaneous foreign returns, and records of life events occurring at sea.
You can access the registers at http://www.bmdregisters.co.uk.