The following announcement was written by Ancestry.ca:
(TORONTO, ON – February 17, 2010) More than 318 million names of everyone who was born, married or who died in England and Wales between 1837 and 2005 are now fully name-searchable online for the first time at Ancestry.ca, Canada’s leading online family history website.
Considered ‘core’ historical records by family history researchers, the fully name-searchable BMD Indexes are a major addition to Ancestry.ca’s historical collection and will be of great significance to the ten million Canadians living today who can claim British ancestry.
In a project which has taken four years to complete, Ancestry.ca partnered with FreeBMD to index by name, registration date and district, the General Register Office (GRO) Birth, Marriage and Death (BMD) Indexes for England and Wales since civil registration began in 1837 through until 2005[i].
Making the indexes searchable has revealed for the first time insights into UK birth, marriage and death trends over the last 170 years, including naming patterns, peak years and districts for marriages, and average age of death[ii]. Comparisons to information from similar dates in Canada’s history also highlight some of the difference between life in the old and new world after Confederation.
Births: the Royals… who’s hot and who’s not
The birth indexes reveal a fascinating royal influence on Britons’ choice of baby names – inspired by those in the public eye at the time. For instance, the names William and Harry rose in popularity throughout the nineties and early noughties following the births of the two princes[iii]. Zara, Andrew, Anne, Beatrice and Eugenie are further examples of names chosen by the public after being given to a royal child[iv].
Despite there not being a John on the throne for almost 800 years, this name comes in first amongst the males with more than 2 million, ahead of William at 1.9 million. Bucking the trend somewhat, Charles came in at a modest 6th place at just under 500,000.
Not only is she the current and longest serving British monarch, but Queen Elizabeth II, and probably with some help with her enormously popular mother, is a clear female winner with just shy of 1.7 million.
And it may be too soon to say whether the two royal ladies in waiting will boost the popularity of their respective forenames, but Kate is currently ten times as popular as Chelsy[v], and has been amongst the most popular girl’s names of the last two centuries, with 220,000 included in the collection. (Complete table of most popular names available)
There are more than 134 million names in the UK Birth Indexes, including:
- Kate Middleton – born Catherine Elizabeth Middleton in Reading, 1982
- Princess Diana – born Diana Frances Spencer in Norfolk, 1961
- Robert Pattinson – born Robert Douglas Pattinson in Surrey, 1986
Deaths: infant mortality
The average age of death also crept up by more than 20 years across the 50-year intervals between 1866 and 1966, from 29 years-of-age in 1866, 44 years-of-age in 1916 and 68 years-of-age in 1966. By comparison, average age of death has always been higher in Canada than in the UK. In 1801, Canada’s average of 38.5 years-of-age was already higher than any year in the 19th Century in the UK. In Canada, the average age of death in 1966 was 72 years-of-age, four years longer than in the UK.
Sadly - though perhaps unsurprisingly - the UK Death Indexes reveal that in 1866, when age of death was first recorded, newborn babies through to children aged five suffered the highest rates of mortality. Two to four-year-olds had shifted out of the top five 50 years later in 1916, while by 1966 no children were in the top five ages of death recorded in the UK.
There are more than 87 million names in the UK Death Indexes, including:
- Charles Darwin – died in London aged 73 in 1882
- Emily Bronte – died in Yorkshire aged 30 in 1848
- Dame Mary Barbara Hamilton Cartland – died aged 98 in 2000
Despite London’s long held position as the nation’s capital, for almost half the 1900s (1837 to 1884), more couples registered to marry each year in Manchester than in any other city. For the first three decades of the 20th century, West Ham in London became the busiest registration district (1900 to 1932) and for the next 60 years (1933 to 1999), Birmingham.
In the lead up to both World Wars, huge spikes in the number of couples marrying can also be seen – with the number of marriages increasing by 23 per cent at the outbreak of WWI (from 294,000 in 1914 to 360,000 in 1915), and by 22 per cent at the start of WWII (361,000 in 1938 to 439,000 in 1939).
There are more than 96 million names in the UK Marriage Indexes, including:
- Thomas Hardy – married Emma Lavinia Gifford in London,1874
- John Lennon – married Cynthia Powell in Liverpool, 1962
- Judith Dench – married Michael Williams in Hampstead, 1971
Ancestry.ca Marketing Director Karen Peterson comments: “With the introduction in the early Victorian era of censuses and birth, marriage and death records, the UK pioneered the creation of civil record keeping, which has benefited us all in so many ways.
“Almost one third of Canadians will find an ancestor listed in the England and Wales Birth Marriage and Death Indexes, making them a truly meaningful historical resource.
“To have indexed the entire collection in what has been an epic four-year project is in itself testimony to the value of these indexes.”