Genealogy Chat

Top tip - using the Genes Reunited community

Welcome to the Genes Reunited community boards!

  • The Genes Reunited community is made up of millions of people with similar interests. Discover your family history and make life long friends along the way.
  • You will find a close knit but welcoming group of keen genealogists all prepared to offer advice and help to new members.
  • And it's not all serious business. The boards are often a place to relax and be entertained by all kinds of subjects.
  • The Genes community will go out of their way to help you, so don’t be shy about asking for help.

Quick Search

Single word search

Gift subscriptions

Genes Reunited gift subscription

Do you know someone interested in discovering their family history?

You can now buy a gift subscription to Genes Reunited so they can research their family tree.

Buy gift or redeem gift


  • New posts
  • No new posts
  • Thread closed
  • Stickied, new posts
  • Stickied, no new posts


ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


Alan Report 1 Feb 2013 19:23

Could somebody PLEASE tell me ?
Actual signatures (or Xs) of couples & witnesses married in church can sometimes be photocopied from the parish registers held either in the church or county records office.

However with registry office marriages, if you send for a marriage cert from the General Records Office, you only receive a copy which DOES NOT contain the actual signatures.

Is it possible to obtain a copy containing their actual signatures, from the actual registry office involved ? or anywhere else ?

(also, when did registry office marriages start ?)

THANK YOU in advance, Alan.


DazedConfused Report 1 Feb 2013 19:29

Not all registry offices provide historical copies of their records and will advise that you get your copies from the GRO

It may be worth your while to contact the relevant office to ask.


Alan Report 1 Feb 2013 21:02

Hello PigletsPal,
THANK YOU for your prompt reply.
Kind regards, Alan.


KathleenBell Report 1 Feb 2013 23:47

As far as I know Register Office marriages started at the same time as civil registration - 1837.

Kath. x


Alan Report 2 Feb 2013 09:10

Hello KathleenBell,
THANK YOU for the information.
Kind regards, Alan.


JMW Report 2 Feb 2013 11:24

A number of points.
Firstly A Registry Office is a place where Land is Registered. Births, Deaths, Marriages and Civil Partnerships are Registered at a Register Office. Pedantic I know, but registrars get upset by incorrect designations.
Secondly, in England and Wales all civil registrations started on 01 July 1837
Thirdly, all Register Offices hold the originals of all registrations which took place in their district in the original registers (although districts may have combined and they may be held in a central depository in that district)
where a certificate is hand written it will have been copied from the original by someone at the Register Office, however many ROs are now scanning entries and if this is the case then it will be a scan of the original.
Finally. In the future family historians will not be so lucky as now almost everything is held on computer, including RO marriages and most certificates will be computer generated and not produced from the actual registers.


InspectorGreenPen Report 2 Feb 2013 12:15

The GRO only ever has a copy of the original Register Office entry. The wording of a typical GRO cert says "Certified to be a true copy of an entry in the certified copy of a register of marriages in the Registration District of XYZ"

Whereas, a certificate issued by the original RO states "Certified to be a true copy of an entry in a register in my custody"

I'm sure it is possible to receive a scan of the original but it is not the case with any of the RO wedding certs I have in my possession. All are either handwritten or typed at the time of issue.

Incidentally, the wording on my own marriage cert which we did sign at the time of the wedding states "I (minister) .... do hereby certify that this is a true copy of the entry No xx in the Register Book of Marriages of the above named building.

Does anyone have a cert issued at the time of the wedding at a RO,, what does it say on that and does it have actual signatures?

PS there is a road sign in Harrogate directing you to the "Registry Office" Perhaps someone needs to tell the registrar.....!


Kense Report 2 Feb 2013 14:31

Our certificate which was issued in the seventies at Chelmsford RO is entirely written and signed by the registrar. It says "Certified to be a true copy of an entry of a register in my custody,"


Alan Report 2 Feb 2013 16:36

Firstly I would like to THANK all of you who have replied. I have taken all your points on board.

It would seem that a certificate containing a copy of original signatures MIGHT be obtained from the ORIGINAL R O, but it's still UNSURE.
HAS ANYBODY GOT ONE who can confirm this ??

Just as an illustration of the usefulness of ORIGINAL SIGNATURES (even though this was a church wedding) :-
My cousin holds an ORIGINAL copy from 1859 of our Gt Grandparent's marriage document. On this it says "The above is a true Extract from the Register Book of Marriages of the said District Church". All this written in the ONE HAND (inc 4 signatures).

On the reverse are written some very useful notes about the family.
We wondered WHO had written these notes.
By comparing these notes with the ORIGINAL signatures copied from the CHURCH PARISH REGISTER, we were able to determine that it was definitely our Gt Grandfather's own handwriting.

Neither my recent copy of their marriage cert from the GRO, nor my cousin's original copy from 1859, gave us the information which we were after !!


mgnv Report 5 Feb 2013 07:20

Birmingham is the only local office that will routinely send images of their original BMD regos, so far as I'm aware.


Inky1 Report 5 Feb 2013 11:06

Like others, we married in a RO. And have a handwritten copy.

Years later, an alteration needed to be made. After obtaining formal authorisation from the GRO we took a trip back to the RO. The original register was brought out. After the alteration was made in the margin (and signed by both of us) we were given a photocopy.

So we have a handwritten copy (with our signatures written by the Registrar), and a photocopy of the revised record (obviously with our own signatures)

But providing us with a photocopy is most likely an exception.

Also, any 'margin alterations' like ours will never be found on copies obtained from the GRO.


Alan Report 7 Feb 2013 09:02

Hello mgnv and Inky1,
THANK YOU both for your replies.
Kind regards, Alan.


Alan Report 13 Feb 2013 17:03

Hello Kuros,
THANK YOU for that information.
Kind Regards, Alan.