Norfolk Bishop's Transcripts and Electoral Registers

This week, FindMyPast announced that it had added Norfolk's BTs and Electoral Registers to the site as part of its 'FindMyPast Friday' update.

Taken from their release -

Norfolk Bishop's Transcripts Baptisms 1685-1941

Norfolk Bishop's transcripts contain over 647,000 records. Each entry includes an image of the original document and a transcript of the vital details. The amount of information found in the transcript will depend on the age and condition of the original document although most will include your ancestor's name, baptism year, baptism place and the names of their parent's. Images may reveal additional information such as your ancestor's birth date, father's occupation and the name of the officiating minister.

Norfolk Bishop's Transcripts Marriages 1685-1941

Norfolk Bishop's Transcripts Marriages contains Over 157,000 records. Each record includes a transcript that will reveal your ancestor's birth year, date of marriage, place of marriage and the name of their spouse as well as an image of the original document. Images may reveal further information about your ancestor's marriage, such as the couple's occupations, fathers' names, and the names of any witnesses.

Norfolk Bishop's Transcripts Burials 1685-1941

Search over 434,000 Bishop's transcripts of Norfolk burials to discover your ancestor's final resting place. Transcripts will also reveal when they died and their age at death. Images of original documents may reveal additional information such as the name of the minister who performed the ceremony, your ancestor's date of death and, occasionally, their cause of death.

Norfolk Electoral Registers 1832-1915

Norfolk Electoral Registers 1832-1915 contains over 4.5 million records. Each entry includes an image of the original register and a transcript of the facts listed. Transcripts will list your ancestor's name, the place they registered, the district and the year they were registered. Images will provide additional information such as you’re their address and the type of property they owned or rented.

My own note -

Bishop's Transcripts are a fantastic resource for checking up on parish register entries that are illegible, or where registers are damaged, for example. However, like so many other sources - they are not complete! Still, it is extremely useful to have these available with transcripts and they will no doubt be instrumental in knocking down some brickwalls where BTs had not previously been checked (or, dare I say, making some guessed 'answers' suddenly appear wrong!)

Electoral registers have traditionally been tricky to search, especially where organised by address, so these too will be a useful addition for researchers. As always, it will be worth ensuring the district you're after, for the year you need it, is accessible. Keep in mind too, that not everyone has always been eligible to vote and the period digitised saw great changes in suffrage.


New websites - ONS and OPS

On New Year's Day I launched two new websites for two of my projects.

My One-Name Study:

My One-Place Study:

Both are in their infancy, particularly my OPS, but I have been busy writing blogs for both and plan to make regular updates about people I find in my research as well as analysis of various record sets.

The blog on this site will continue to contain updates about local records and news as well as items that don't fit into my ONS and OPS.

I hope you continue to make lots of discoveries in 2017.

New information in GRO Indexes - direct from

Many readers will know by now that the good folk at the General Register Office (the home of the national collection of birth, marriage and death certificates and their associated indexes) have brought in new services.

Until now, the indexes for birth and death available to search in a myriad of places on the web - including FreeBMD and all the big genealogy subscription sites - have used information from the contemporary index volumes now deposited at Southport. For practical reasons, the amount of information that appears on the index for these events increases over the years. For example, early deaths (to 1866) included no age at death, and early births (to 1911) included no mother’s maiden name. This was due to the amount of space on the slips used in the early days to compile the alphabetised index, by hand, for the original volumes.

Now, the GRO have added these two pieces of information, which makes the database available superior to that found elsewhere. You will need to log in as if ordering a certificate ( and click ‘Search the GRO Indexes’.

When looking for a birth, you can search on as little as a surname (mandatory) and year (up to +/- 2 only). You will also need to specify a gender.  Additional search options include first and second forenames (not everyone will have a second registered), district, volume, page number and quarter.

The addition of mother’s maiden name revolutionises the search process for the earlier records and will have very positive implications when searching for a specific birth, especially if you are one of those searching for an elusive John Smith or William Jones. Provided you can find what you want, you can then click ‘Certificate’ or ‘PDF’ to order.

Additionally, the death index can be searched with similar parameters. The extra information that makes most difference is the addition of age of death (in years) of each person registered. This means you can now take an educated guess at which individual is ‘yours’ with less risk of confusing them with a child who died young, or others of a similar name in the district, for example. It will also make it simpler to identify possible siblings/children lost between censuses or to add to a One Name Study family.

While I’m yet to do lots of searches or comparisons with existing versions of the indexes, the information looks pretty good and is clearly presented. 

If that weren’t enough, the GRO are piloting pdf copies of records to be emailed to applicants as a further option to the usual postage service. The first phase of the pilot (running until 30 November, or until 45,000 have been ordered) includes:

Births: 1837 – 1934 and 2007 on
Deaths: 1837 – 1957 and 2007 on
Marriages: 2011 on
Civil Partnerships: 2005 on

Later, phases two and three will arrive; a three-hour pdf service and undigitised (so far) records respectively. Keep an eye on their website for further information as confirmed. I am yet to use the pdf service (£6 compared to the usual £9.25) although I’m sure I will very shortly, at which point I can comment further. 

A note on the records: always keep in mind that the GRO records are copies of those made locally. In some cases, transcription errors creep in between the earlier copies available from register offices / transferred to record offices or other repositories. Of course, there is still no guarantee that the error doesn’t appear on both versions, or even in original marriage registers or birth and death returns (where surviving) - I’ve had an interesting example of this recently! Prices vary, but in some cases it may be worth finding an earlier source or comparing the two.

It is also worth noting that, since the introduction of civil registration on 1 July 1837, it has always been compulsory to register births, marriages and deaths. It is estimated that up to 7% of events may be missing up until the 1870s – many fewer than a large number of genealogists believe. Remember to search different spellings, and consider that first name entries might be different to those you expect, or even given as ‘male’ or ‘female’. For more on the early history and details of civil registration, I’d recommend podcasts on the National Archives website (particularly those by Audrey Collins) as well as her book with David Annal, Birth, Marriage and Death Records: A Guide for Family Historians.

All in all, this is a fantastic development for researchers - with more to come in the future.

Unwritten History: Baby Loss Awareness Week

A brief post this to do my part to raise awareness of all those babies that never appeared on the birth indexes.

I don't often post very personal items here, but today I make an exception. Before my son was born this year we lost three babies, all at around twelve weeks gestation. As many as one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage, which means even if you're not aware of it, the chances are that you know someone that has suffered at least one loss. In addition, far too many families still experience the pain of stillbirth or neonatal death. It's something individuals, and society as a whole, often finds difficult to talk about.

Whether they are recorded or not, those pregnancies are still part of our family history.

For support: