A new collection was published on Ancestry today: nearly 1.5 million death index transcriptions, dated between 2007 and 2013. The title is somewhat misleading: this is NOT an extension of the GRO index.
Every genealogist will tell you to state your sources, but unfortunately the source information on Ancestry is somewhat vague: stating simply (on 22 January 2015 at least) that it comes from 'various sources'.
The collection also doesn't seem to be particularly complete, although there is no doubt that it's sizeable. The Office of National Statistics tells us that nearly half a million people died in England and Wales in 2011 alone, so even a very rough estimate over seven years (or even five) would amount to many more than 1.5 million.
Each record is 'index only', perhaps in this case because it was born digital. Each record gives details of name, gender, age, birth date (sometimes just year), death date (day, month and year), residence at time of death and the first part of the postcode, suggesting some kind of postcode-linked database.
By all means search the database (unfortunately all my initial searches were unsuccessul) but as with all research, it's probably worth finding additional sources to back up your conclusions.
A further index of 400k or so 'Scotland and Northern Ireland Death Index, 1989-2003' has similarly woolly source info, again stating origins in these mysterious 'various sources'.
Perhaps more information will follow later; I very much hope so, because a full source citation is essential to assess the reliability of your sources. The historical and genealogical community (and me, as a regular user and longtime subscriber) asks you please, Ancestry, to improve your source information.
Update: @AncestryUK tweeted me today to say "@ElizabethWalne Thanks for your interest. The source of this collection is GreyPower Deceased Data, compiled by Wilmington Millennium."
You can find out more about Wilmington Millennium here: http://www.wilmingtonmillennium.co.uk/ One of their products is:
- Mortascreen and Halo, the UK's leading deceased data files used for direct mail suppression, mortality fraud and identity theft prevention
Ancestry's source information hasn't been updated yet, but this is interesting nonetheless. The data apparently comes from funeral directors and obituaries. It is then packaged for marketing companies to ensure they don't contact the deceased.
My advice would be to use this database as a finding aid only - check everything!
A final update to this post!
Ancestry have now added source information confirming that the source of these records is GreyPower Deceased Data, compiled by Wilmington Millennium, West Yorkshire. Their 'About' section says:
"This collection is a compiled index that covers approximately 55% of the total deaths that occured in this time period.
This index provides death details for people in England and Wales, specifically their name, gender, date of birth or age at death, date of death, and residence place at death. However, they do not include the General Register Office (GRO) reference information."
Not as detailed as we might like as we know who made the database, but not where they got their information, but better than 'Various sources'.
Search the collection at http://search.ancestry.co.uk/search/db.aspx?dbid=60630
Thank you ancestry, for stating your sources, but a little more information would be nice!