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Cert GRO / Local RO

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ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


JannieAnnie Report 20 Apr 2014 18:55

I have a general question. I have just received a (birth - 1845) cert from GRO and it is in typed format - I am used to receiving certs in handwritten format, as this is how the information on all the other certs I have purchased from the GRO appear - they look like photocopied sections from a register.

I do have one other typed cert - which I purchased from a local RO, I believe it has a 'typo' which I can live with but decided to always use GRO in future.

Just wondered if anyone knew why this might be so?


Shirley~I,m getting the hang of it

Shirley~I,m getting the hang of it Report 20 Apr 2014 20:35

It may be the original was too faint or badly written to be copied so they typed out a copy for you


JannieAnnie Report 20 Apr 2014 21:06

Thank you


jax Report 20 Apr 2014 21:25

All the certs I have ordered have been hand written...births and marriages and not copies of the orginals

When I 1st started out I foolishly ordered my grandparents marriage cert from ancestry for approx. £20 with no trace of their handwriting.

A couple of months ago the area of Essex they married in became available on (Seax) so for £5 for 24 hours I managed to get a copy of their marriage plus my other grandparents all with their signatures


MarieCeleste Report 20 Apr 2014 22:27

I've had an assortment of formats from GRO - some appear to be copies of the actual register pasted onto the proforma, some look like they've been taken from handwritten reproductions of the original and some have been typed up versions.


mgnv Report 20 Apr 2014 23:22

For births & deaths, the original entry is made in the appropriate subdistrict office.
At the end of each quarter, the subdistrict registrars made a copy of all that quarters entries for the GRO. These were done on special double sized forms in the early days, so the early GRO regos have 10 Bs & Ds and 4 Ms per page, whereas the original local regos only had half that. Later on, the GRO had 5 B & D entries and 2 M entries per page. The subdistrict registrars took their copies, along with the relevant regos, to the district superintendent for him to check over. He kept any completed rego books, and returned the incomplete current regos. When the superintendent had gotten bundles of copies from all his subdistricts, he stacked them together, and shipped them off to the GRO where they were bound into volumes, alongside of surrounding districts, and indexed.

Marrs are similar, except there's no subdistricts there. The subdistricts are replaced by the authorized holders of the church regos (i.e., the vicar or rabbi, etc.). They make copies, and submit them to the superintendent - their completed regos are deposited in some archive, usually the county records office (e.g., SEAX is the online site for Essex Record Office). The superintendent has a local copy made in a local duplicate rego of the church's. The superintendent already holds his own marr rego. This is used for rego office marrs, and for church marrs where the church isn't authorized to hold an official marr rego, so some asst registrar has to attend so the couple can sign his official marr rego (e.g., RCs until the 1980s). A copy of the quarter's marrs in this rego was also made for the GRO, again on their special forms.

I think all these copies were handwritten.

Nowadays, when I send off to the GRO for a cert, they put an image of their copy of the entry on the cert. Obviously, they didn't do this in the past - I've got a 1960s typewritten copy of my b.cert from the GRO. Most local offices don't have the technology to do this yet, so they make a copy for each request. Some do now send the original image from the rego, e.g., Birmingham RD. (Also SP imaged the local regos, so old Scottish certs (well uncertified copies, technically) contain images of the informant's signature - sim Eire & NI supply uncertified imges of their regos.) The church marr rego's hold the original signatures of the couple and their officicant, witnesses, etc., so jax can get these via SEAX - they're also coming online via Ancestry, FS, & FMP/GR.

As a useful footnote to jax's spendthrift ways, anyone can order a cert thru Ancestry, not just subscribers. So, I can do a search, and click on the shopping basket and see the details of the order - although I don't see paying 10+ quid just for them to place my order for me. FreeBMD has no completed transcriptions of any quarter after 1970 right now, so for searching untranscribed stuff up to 1983, I can search on Ancestry, get key details - like spelling and date, and then use FreeBMD's klunky interface to "view images" of the printed index (and so read spouse/mother surnames and dob/age at death).


jax Report 20 Apr 2014 23:30

I don't think I was a spendthrift mgnv...just didn't know any different until I started using these boards

But as I have only ever bought 4 certs one at 20 quid is not too bad :-D


JannieAnnie Report 20 Apr 2014 23:35

Jax and MarieCeleste

Until now all of my ordered certs have been - or so it appears to me - to be the cut and pasted variety mentioned by MarieCeleste, because the surrounding information - registration district / date of issue of my requested certs is obviously typed but the central certificate information is handwritten - various styles and clarity. Plus there is often 'shading' behind the text, the sort that can occur when copying from a bound ledger (awkward)

For example, I am fortunate (?) to have purchased a marriage certificate of a 1901 London marriage (great grandparents) and subsequently (about 7 years later) downloaded a copy of the same marriage from Ancestry. I can clearly see the handwriting on the purchased copy is all one person's writing, whereas the downloaded one shows the different handwriting of the curate, bride, groom and witnesses on their signatures (much the same as from SEAX I imagine).

Also apparent on the downloaded one is the 'border' around each separate entry - the 'border' is also clearly reproduced on my purchased copy which is why I believe them to be a photocopy of the register entry submitted to GRO.

I can agree with Shirley~ 's suggestion of lack of clarity as a reason because on my purchased copy of the marriage the house number of the street of bride's residence is blank - on the downloaded one it is clearly shown.

I am just considering whether the suggestion of a lack of clarity of the register is the reason for typing it out - is it possible that it is transcribed with an error!

EDIT: Just seen MGNV's explanation - thank you


jax Report 20 Apr 2014 23:48

Most of my family, well all gt grandparents married in London so have got all the marriages from Ancestry.

My gran was a collector of family certs and she had the original marriage cert for her parents from 1882 and I would say it is more or less identical to the one on ancestry.

Yes the marriage cert I purchased via ancestry was all in the same were the other three I purchased from GRO


DazedConfused Report 21 Apr 2014 10:17

At £9.25 all in ordering from the GRO is the cheapest way of getting hold of and BMDs.

Some local registrars offices are no longer providing historic BMDs (not many). The local RO can charge £9.25 - £9.50 + p&p.

I would never consider buying from any other source, least of all through Ancestry.

Even when I started out, I knew that the GRO was the place to go, not from experience just did. And once I found out how expensive it could be to go through any middle man, well that was it. GRO every time.


patchem Report 21 Apr 2014 11:40

How can one know where to get certificates when one starts out?

If ancestry says that you can buy them that way, why would you assume they were rip-off merchants?

Lots of people on here ask for advice as to where to get certificates - so they do not know.

If ancestry supply certificates then enough people must use the service - otherwise they would stop.

When I started out the local office was far better then the GRO. No question.

Services and circumstances change over time.

I have a wide variety of certificates.

None of my family come from London, so I was amazed at what was available when I started looking at online records.

I also assumed the local office would be more accurate as less likely for errors to creep in.


KenSE Report 21 Apr 2014 11:53

For marriages that were in church, if you just want the information, you know the parish involved and the information is on line, then it can be much cheaper to have a premium subscription to Ancestry or FMP as appropriate for the particlar area involved. Or to a site such as SEAX (for Essex).

The information is the same as on a certificate, subject to human copying errors.

For some places, such as Cornwall, you don't even need a subscription.


JannieAnnie Report 21 Apr 2014 18:15

Yes there are various places to go to get certs, information etc.

My first 'bunch' of certs for my grandparents were all purchased from the GRO. I don't know why I used them - or even knew I could use them - especially as I would have known I could go and get them all from the one RO covering the area they were all born. Perhaps I just decided to do it all online. I know I was just trying to establish certain information which would be on the Birth Certs.

Since then I have discovered a great deal of useful information from reading these Boards and also been given useful information and advice on my threads. Most of mine are London BMDs - the few who were not moved to London, so I have only had to look, for the majority , in a limited area. After my one RO purchase I decided GRO was best for me, but obviously errors can slip in anywhere - when I see the writing on some of my certs it does make sense that some may be too old, faint, in poor condition, etc to do the 'copy/cut and paste' I am used to on my other GRO issued certs.


Chris in Sussex

Chris in Sussex Report 22 Apr 2014 13:29

Something I didn't know, and learnt from a NA podcast, is that the GRO will handwrite/type a certificate if information is missing from the original.

The example given was, if the copies of the marriages that made it to the GRO didn't have the name of the Church, This could happen if the encumbant only wrote it on the first page so the rest of the entries were to be taken as read. The GRO cannot scan and copy it and then add bits in as that would be altering a certified copy however what they can do is handwrite/type a certificate adding in the missing info.

I think it was this podcast...



DazedConfused Report 22 Apr 2014 13:33

I suppose living in London I just knew about St. Catherines House (at the time) so knew that was where you went for copies of certificates.


jax Report 22 Apr 2014 13:50

I thought you said you always knew the GRO was the place to purchase certs DC?

I also am from London and the only place I had heard of for getting certs was Somerset house.....not that I wanted any at that time


If you google St Catherines House

St Catherine's House - Official Certificate Replacements?

Order Now. Only £24.95

Is that not even more expensive than Ancestry :-S


SylviaInCanada Report 23 Apr 2014 00:17

I've posted comments similar to this several times .............. but it might be worth re-posting, especially for those members who live overseas ......................

I bought my first certificates from the local Registry Office ................ getting the information on how to do so from freebmd, and following all their instructions.

I thought that was the way to do it ................ but it turned out to be horribly expensive from overseas!


........... Had to buy a money order for the cost of the certificates + £1 each certificate for p&p from the bank ....... + service charge

.......... Had to buy 2 special sized envelopes, one to be self-addressed, because we don't use the size specified

.......... Then had to pay extortionate Canadian postage to mail it.

I think the cost in the end was more than double what I would have paid had I lived in the UK!

I bought 3 certificates that first time

Then I saw a mention about GRO on GR, checked it out ............. same price in the UK as overseas (£9.25), no extra handling charges, order online, and charge it to the credit card!

I've since ordered every other certificate I've bought from GRO


InspectorGreenPen Report 23 Apr 2014 14:04

Certs from Local RO's now cost £10.

Some charge postage on top, others require you to send them an SAE. Others also charge extra if you pay by credit card, an additional £1 in the case of our local RO.


DazedConfused Report 23 Apr 2014 14:09

Nitpicking - I just said that I knew where to go. It never occurred to me that there were other places to get them from.

The first I ordered from the GRO, I think I was redirected online to there from my query about St. Catherines House (I took a friend there many years ago so she could get a copy of her birth cert.).


jax Report 23 Apr 2014 14:53


I started doing this in Jan 2010.....I used Ancestry at first and bought some credits....I was looking for my grandfathers birth and couldn't find I thought I would purchase grandparents marriage cert to see if that would you know it comes up 'Order a marriage cert for xxxx'..... Now how was I to know that ancestry were charging over the top prices?

Yes as I said I had heard of Somerset house as I believe my gran got her birth cert there.....but I was not going to travel there and at that time I was not very computer was not something I did back then

After I received this marriage cert I then signed up for GR as a paying member and found out where I should have been buying them...I think they went up from £7 to £9.25 during this month.