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FreeBMD update

ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


mgnv Report 20 Jul 2013 00:13

FreeBMD was updated early yesterday am.
The most significant item was the last incomplete quarter pre-1940 (D 1844q4) is now essentially complete. Since Ancestry uses FreeBMD pre-1916, this has implications for Ancestry too.

Here's more detail on some of the incomplete quarters:

Incomplete quarters B/M/D of 586 each
1837-1939 0 0 0 of 410 each
1940-1949 6 0 0 of 40 each
1950-1959 2 2 0 of 40 each
1960-1969 28 26 10 of 40 each
1970-1983 56 56 56 of 56 each

Births Jun 1940 (70%) **************
Births Sep 1940 (0%) **************
Births Dec 1940 (45%) **************
Births Sep 1943 (54%) **************
Births Dec 1943 (1%) **************
Births Dec 1945 (99%) *
Births Sep 1958 (54%) **************
Births Dec 1958 (1%) **************
Marriages Sep 1952 (48%) *******************
Marriages Dec 1952 (0%) *******************


DazedConfused Report 20 Jul 2013 08:53

Fantastic news.

I regularly submit amendments

and every certificate I obtain I add details as a Postem. If by adding my postems I have help just one person I am happy.

Shame though, never found any for my lot (apart from my own!!)

LOVE FreeBMD <3 <3 ;-)


Gigi Report 20 Jul 2013 09:35


Yes Postems are a good idea. Have added a few myself but like you have never found any to help me!!

We all need to add more postems!!




RolloTheRed Report 20 Jul 2013 11:14

The work of FreeBMD is admirable yet they claim many periods to be complete when this is far from correct. Although corrections may be submitted they have no mechanism for missing records.

This is most obvious with marriage records where they frequently don't balance. There should always be 2,4,6 or 8 records for a given marriage reference. Frequently this is an odd number. Also as well as missing records others are duplicated.

The BMD records used by Ancestry are not exactly the sane as those used by FreeBMD, their index is more complete. For instance Ancestry has had an index for England & Wales BMD records to 2006 for years.


Potty Report 20 Jul 2013 12:17

Rollo, there are many reasons for missing records on freebmd.

Some of the images are very difficult to read and transcribe, especially the volume and page numbers, which is why there is often an odd number of marriages. The missing one can often be found by looking at the district and quarter and looking for incomplete volume/page nos.

When a duplicate record is found, there is usually a slight difference in the record. This is because the aim is to have all records transcribed by two different people and different things are seen by different transcribers. If an entry is in bold type, that means that it has been transcribed in the same by way two transcribers.

Freebmd will never have the whole indexes transcribed because they did not get images of all of them before they were removed from public view. Some members did brilliant work by photographing as many as possible before they were removed. Also, the latter indexes are computer based and not handwritten/typed as the earlier ones were.

The post-1916 entries on Ancestry were not transcribed, they were produced using OCR .

I am not sure if Ancestry is still updating its pre-1916 records from freebmd.


DazedConfused Report 20 Jul 2013 15:25

When doing my research my first port of call is always FreeBMD

Then I go to Ancestry and as a last resort FMP

A combination of all 3, with Baptism records will often help prise out those ancestors who are hiding away giggling at my attempts to find them.

Also occassionally use the Family Search site. Which I have found good for some of my Irish family. Found g/grandads death record, knew when & where he died but finding the record was quite nice.

Just love a good detective story me..... ;-)


RolloTheRed Report 20 Jul 2013 21:28

One of the leading causes of problems with FreeBMD is its insistence of using the "original image" as the document of reference and not entertaining any other information. Sometimes people use the annotation facility but not often enough.

The problem is that many of these index images which FreeBMD seem to consider authentic and error free are anything but. Family tree historians should not regard the FreeBMD indexes as the final authority, far from it.

(1) The original records are with the LROs who used a different numbering system. The GRO (St Catherines House) system used a different method. This is one area with many mistakes before GRO get near a single index entry. Some guy has even written a book about the problem and recalculated a chunk of the index. IT is NOT infallible or anything like it.

(2) Up until around 1860 most of the index was handwritten. The quality of the surviving images is very variable.

(3) A great part of the GRO handwritten index records were transcribed into typeset print. This process again introduced more galley errors and on top FreeBMD have made mistakes in the transcription of the transcription themselves.

(4) From about 1940 the records were typewritten using poor quality machines and poor quality ribbons. More errors then and on top the informants themselves often misspelt names sometimes coming back for a second bite at the cherry.

(5) For the period approx 1960-1980 the index is computer printed. Again lots of errors in the printout.

(6) Since about 1980 the index has not been printed, it exists only as a bit pattern on a hard drive, with backups to tape some of which are in poor condition. Maybe by now there are better backups.

It is this part of the index which makes it so easy to create fake identities. These days those who need such things can create entirely fictitious GRO identities with no link to any real person. And of course a person's identity can be deleted with equal ease.

The original certs are stored in Dorset. IMHO refusing access to the general public is not a good thing. Many of them are annotated with significant information and they are the only way around the many failings in the GRO printed indexes which existed long before FreeBMD.

The images on Ancestry are a lot better than the FreeBMD ones and very often not the same image for the same index page anyway which implies that at least some of it must have been transcribed more than once. Ancestry have a system which makes it fairly easy to locate a record without using the GRO index. It is especially useful for "missing" marriages. I have submiitted quite a few corrections to FreeBMD based on research at Ancestry all of which have been accepted.

It is much safer working from fiche rather than poor quality computer images which is generally the case with FreeBMD volunteers.

Currently FreeBMD is working its way through the 1540-1840 records
They have now got quite a long way. The quality of the work and the in depth information is excellent though unfortunately no images posted.


mgnv Report 20 Jul 2013 23:22

Rollo - no one said anything abt Ancestry's records post-1915 until you raised it.
Of course they'll be more complete - there's no printed index to transcribe post-1983, so how could it be otherwise?
Births 1837 – 1915 (transcribed by FreeBMD)
Births 1916 – 2005 (transcribed)
Marriages 1837 – 1915 (transcribed by FreeBMD)
Marriages 1916 - 2005 (transcribed)
Deaths 1837 – 1915 (transcribed by FreeBMD)
Deaths 1916 - 2005 (transcribed)

It may be that when you do a spouse search you do not get the 4 or 8 entries normally expected. There can be a number of reasons for this:

Fewer entries than expected
FreeBMD is still in the process of transcribing the quarter of the index. The percentage of the quarter transcribed is shown next to the heading for the quarter or you can look at the coverage of FreeBMD here
An entry may have been omitted from the index
An entry in the index may have been omitted from the FreeBMD transcription
There is an error in the district, volume or page number of the original entry
There is an error in the district, volume or page number of the spouse entry
See below for information on how to try to find a missing entry.

More entries than expected
Two of the entries are different transcriptions of the same entry
Two of the entries are alternative spellings
There is an error in the district, volume or page number of one (or more) of the entries and it should be on another page - the district being in italics may indicate this is the case
To resolve these issues you will need to examine each entry in turn - the information here may help with this.
Finding a missing spouse yourself

If the problem is due to a mistake in the index or a mistranscription you may be able to find a spouse by performing a spouse search yourself using the information here; if you have other information about the entry, e.g. possible names, you can use this to refine such a search.
If this does not work it may be that the problem is that an entry has been omitted from the GRO index or the FreeBMD transcription and the only way you can progress your research will be to use other sources of information, for example census information.
If you find the missing entry you are encouraged to submit a correction, if the entry has been mistranscribed, or add a Postem to the entry otherwise. Both of these are done from the information page for the entry which is accessed by clicking on the "INFO" Information button next to the entry.


It's a mystery how Rollo can tell that an entry's missing, not merely mistranscribed.

Lets look at a couple of examples with 3 entries listed for the page:

Marriages Sep 1903 (>99%)
Benson Fred Wigan 8c 243
Benson Frederick Wigan 8c 243
SLEVIN Margaret Wigan 8c 243

I've got this particular m.cert, Margaret married Frederick, but he signed as Fred - no missing bride for Fred, but 2 entries for him in the GRO index.

Here's another:

Marriages Jun 1860 (>99%)
Boardman John Wigan 8c 110

I click on the page # and see:

Marriages Jun 1860 (>99%)
Boardman John Wigan 8c 110
Donohoe Patrick Wigan 8c 110
Neville Jane Wigan 8c 110

From the header here, I can see that clicking on the page # initiated a
Search for
Type: Marriages Start date: Jun 1860 End date: Jun 1860
Volume: 8c Page: 110

So how could Rollo tell Ellen Bullough is really missing???
Of course, he can't. In fact she isn't missing

Marriages Jun 1860 (>99%)
Bullough Ellen Wigan 8e 110

I've submitted the correction to FreeBMD - the image actually says 8c at high magnification.

What Potty says abt the unavailability of images was true at one time, but not now.
E.g., FreeBMD had only half the images for 1887q2 marrs - I think they stopped in the "L"s - I needed a B & a T. However Ancestry provided the missing images.

When I made my 8e --> 8c correction, I had a choice of images:

You can view the original scan that was used to transcribe this entry. The following is a list of scan files that contain the entry.

I've found Ancestry often has the better images, but it's not uniformly the case.
Usually, both are adequate, as in this case - here at very high magnification, I could tell that Ancestry had slightly better resolution.

As I said, our Ellen wasn't missing - the index lists:

Marriages Jun 1860 (>99%)
Bullon Ellen Blackburn 8e 417
Bullough Ellen Wigan 8e 110
Bullough Ellen Foster Bradford Yk. 9b 184

However, if our Ellen were omitted, the way to correct this is to click on the last non-missing entry, say Ellen Bullon's, enter our Ellen's details, and check the multiple entries box.


mgnv Report 21 Jul 2013 04:26

One of the leading strengths of FreeBMD is its insistence of using the "original image" of the document it's transcribing and not entertaining any other information. Sometimes people use the annotation facility but not often enough.

The problem is that some people fail to recognize their are flaws in the index, in spite of comments on the FreeBMD site indicating otherwise, e.g.:
"there are errors and omissions in both the index itself and in FreeBMD's transcription of it as well as situations where the original is unreadable".

Speaking personally, I'm happy with the current situation - I can easily look up and check FreeBMD's transcription for myself, and decide for myself how much to trust the original index's accuracy.

I'ld prefer not to have to deal with a whole mess of "corrections", presumably including some from folk who don't know the difference between a missing record and a mistranscribed record.


RolloTheRed Report 21 Jul 2013 07:44

You missed my point by a country mile.
Often times thre "original image" that FreeBMD use is not the otiginal at all but a transcription of a transcription e.g.

Local Recoirds Office submission
transcribed into GRO format ( handwritten )
transcrived into typeset
at this point FreeBMD picks up the index, errors and omissions included.

There is extensive stuff dealing with the many errors the the St Catherine's Index and several example as to how it could be repaired.

The GRO index as shown by FreeBMD and Ay et al is not the full index there are several other fields not available via FreeBMD.

I do not see how FreeBMD can claim "99.9%" completion when in fact there are so many errors within it whether they can be sorted with some further work or not. There should be some sort of warning at the head of every page.

As I said the work of FreeBMD is extremely useful. It is far from complete let alone error free. Apart from anything else as with the census even the physical index is incomplete.

It is often worth checking the LRO records and other sources.

If FreeBMD truly wished to go back to the original they would start with the LRO records and redo the conversion to GRO format. Of course this would take years so they accept what is already a compromised data set as " orginal ".



DazedConfused Report 21 Jul 2013 12:36

WTF - I have been RR'd why.

All I said was that FreeBMD was my first port of call when researching.

My gast is now flabbered.......

Whoever did this - GET A LIFE :-S :-S :-S


Potty Report 21 Jul 2013 14:05

DC, I suppose somebody regarded that as insinuating that GR's BMD records weren't as good as freebmd's - very petty. Somebody else has posted freebmd's web address on another thread, basically saying that it is an essential site for tracing family - I wonder if that one will also be RRd?


RolloTheRed Report 21 Jul 2013 15:07

"WTF - I have been RR'd why.
All I said was that FreeBMD was my first port of call when researching.
My gast is now flabbered......."

Despite its shortcomings
is of course one of the top 5 web sites for people researching England & Wales family trees.

Why on earth would anybody R&R that?
They'll be gunning for Cindie's List and Fenland Families next.

must be the heat
or maybe an Australian at Lord's where there are fewer and fewer of them

bet this gets fluffed


DazedConfused Report 21 Jul 2013 20:50

You know this has gone from the ridiculous to the sublime

I only come on here for the boards, but am now also considering leaving them.

I am pretty sure I know who RR'd me.

But I am seriously losing the will to live, with all the pettiness on here these days...

May stay until next renewal then not bother. :-S


DazedConfused Report 22 Jul 2013 12:18

My post is back. Thanks.


RolloTheRed Report 22 Jul 2013 18:25

I have just read D&C's post which was R&Red.

It was ( and is ) perfectly sensible and accurate.
I haven't a clue who rrd it nor why.
GRU staff on the basis that other FH sites are not to be mentioned? Surely not and I suppose that if they were resp. then the post would not have been restored.

If this kind of thing is not stopped the boards will just die. They are already a shadow of a few years ago.

Stay around, I like your posts.]


Potty Report 23 Jul 2013 09:43

Somebody seems to be RR any posts which mention other sites - despite GR saying it is OK as long as the post are not derogatory to GR - GR really need to sort this out!

Yes, please don't leave, DC.