Picking your package
Paging through BMDs
You might also get tripped up by accidents of alphabetizing. Although the indexes generally list individuals in order much like a telephone directory, there are a few oddities:
- Births and deaths where the surname was unknown may be listed after Z.
- Prior to June 1969, surnames beginning Mac and Mc were indexed separately; thereafter, both were alphabetized under Mac.
- Surnames beginning with O’ (such as O’Reilly) were alphabetized as if without the apostrophe.
- “Double-barreled” surnames such as Harvey-Jones were usually listed by the first part of the name. Harvey-Jones would fall after the last Harvey but before Harvey-Smith.
- Multiword surnames such as De Burgh, Le Jeune, St. John or Van de Kamp were alphabetized by the first word, as if without spaces.
- Births of those with hereditary titles were listed under given names, but deaths may be under titled names; marriages could be listed either way.
- Nuns may be listed as Sister Cecilia or Cecilia, Sister.
Seeking English enumerations
Results of a Findmypast census search will feel familiar to online researchers. The list of hits for each census displays columns for “Institution, Household or Vessel,” name, birth year, age, sex, registration district and county, plus links to a household transcription and an image of the original.
Keep in mind, too, that the UK census reflects a snapshot of the population’s whereabouts on a single day. Your ancestor may have been sick in hospital or visiting a friend; if so, that’s where you’ll find him recorded. Young women were often “in service,” and would be enumerated in the household of their employer. Someone on board a ship would be recorded if in an English port, but not if at sea.
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• English and Welsh birth, marriage and death records back to 1837
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2009: Findmypast.com launches the 1911 census, three years ahead of scheduled release