How large is the Archive’s Civil Registration Death Index database?


The version housing the Goodinson and Goodison entries for England and Wales currently contains only enough records to enable the system and the software to be tested properly. Completion of the entire project depends on whether a sufficient number of volunteers can be found to help with the inputting of the relevant data.


What sources were used to compile the database?


The Archive’s English and Welsh Civil Registration Death Index database was compiled using extracts taken from the index books originally held by the Registrar General at Somerset House (then at Saint Catherines House and finally The Family Records Centre at Islington). Other sources such as, for example, the published microfiche copies that are held in many reference libraries, were found to be incomplete or only partly legible.


Since the G.R.O. (General Register Office) only made routine amendments to the master-copy that was held until October 2007 in the search-room at the Family Records Centre, this had the added advantage of enabling the Archive to include in its database the many official additions and alterations that were made to the index before its withdrawal from public access.


Since the index records were no longer divided into quarters after the year 1983 how can I tell in which parts of the years 1984 onward that deaths took place?


From 1984 until 1992 the first four figures in the results column headed "Reference" indicate the month and year of registration of each death. (For example "0492" indicates a death registered in April 1992.)


From 1993 onward, the last four figures in the results column headed "Reference" serve this purpose.


Which surnames are covered by the database?


The database contains exact transcriptions of the Goodinson and Goodison surname entries that were listed in the G.R.O.’s death index for England and Wales, together with entries for similarly spelt surnames such as Goodisson.


In addition to this, entries for other surnames are gradually being covered for cases where the name Goodison (or a variant) has been given as a forename.


Which registration district in the database should be searched in the case of a death that is known to have occurred away from home?


The law requires all deaths in England and Wales to be registered in the districts in which they occur and not in the home registration district of the deceased. Without information to the contrary, it is therefore unwise to discount death search results for other areas, since the deceased might well have been away from home on business or on holiday.


Why was no use made of the "FreeBMD" website as source of information for the death index database?


Work began at St Catherines House in London on the extraction of entries from the G.R.O. Death Index long before computers came into general use. Although FreeBMD has undoubtedly offered a significant advance in genealogical search facilities in recent years, it is still far from complete. It has also been proved to contain an unacceptably high number of transcription errors, thus rendering it too inaccurate for use by the Archive as a source.


Does the database carry any indication of which of the deceased left Wills?


No, but it will eventually be possible to obtain such information by carrying out a separate search of the Archive’s on-line probate index when it is made available.


Why can’t I specify gender in my search?


Unfortunately, when Civil Registration in England and Wales began in 1837, it was not thought necessary by the authorities to include an indication of gender in the index produced by the G.R.O. Consequently it has not been possible to include gender information and to provide a gender search facility in the Archive database.


[N.B. By the year 1855, when Scottish Civil Registration commenced, many of the shortcomings of the English system had already become apparent and the Scottish G.R.O. death index has included gender information from the outset.]


Can I add an entry for a person who has recently died?


No. The database is intended to be an accurate reflection of entries for the surname Goodison (and its variants) exactly as they appear in the death index at the G.R.O. and not as they actually exist.


Is there any significance in the background colour of the database pages?


Yes, the background used throughout the Archive’s deaths database pages is meant to represent the colour of all of the original G.R.O. death index books, the death certificate application forms and the actual death certificates themselves, all of which are normally coloured or printed in black in order to avoid confusion.


Are the entries in the Archive’s death index database linked to burial records?


No, but it is very likely that this will change in future.


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