Researching your ancestors from Great Britain and Ireland

A guide to researching your ancestors in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, using resources at State Library Victoria.


Birth, death and marriage (BDM) certificates are vital documents that help researchers establish relationships of family members backwards in time. They are used to build the basic structure of the family history tree.

The civil registration of births, deaths and marriages was introduced into each country of the British Isles at different times, so scroll down through this page to find out more about the records for each country. Prior to civil registration records were recorded in parish registers. Go to the parish register page of this guide for further information.

Before you order certificates you need to identify the registration details for the event. The indexes listed on this page will help you locate the correct information and in many cases make the purchase of the certificate more affordable.


Death certificate of John Edwin Quick (click to enlarge).

General Register Office. `Death certificate of John Edwin Quick' Middlesex, 1874; General Register Office. England, Certificate  #DYC 262971 in possession of Carmen Quick, Victoria, Australia.

Where to access divorce records

Find out how to access divorce records here.

Guides to researching BDM records