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THE REGISTRATION SERVICE ‘A Modern Overview’. Presented by Jackie Farrall Senior Registration Officer Cheshire Registration Service. Purpose of this talk . Firstly, for any new members, I would like to briefly explain the history of the Registration Service

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the registration service a modern overview


Presented by Jackie Farrall

Senior Registration Officer

Cheshire Registration Service

purpose of this talk
Purpose of this talk
  • Firstly, for any new members, I would like to briefly explain the history of the Registration Service
  • Next, I will give you all some details of what today’s Registrars have to do
  • Finally, there will be an opportunity for you to ask questions
the history
The History

Civil registration came about as a result of various Acts of Parliament, passed in the early 19th Century, to formalise records that had previously been kept by the Established Church.

These records had been used in the past to establish Inheritance Rights etc.

the history cont
The History (cont.)
  • In England and Wales the Civil Registration Service started in 1837
  • In Scotland the records began in 1855
  • In Northern Ireland the birth and death records began in 1864, but there are some protestant marriage records from 1847
the history cont1
The History (cont.)

It was felt, for many years that the individual baptismal, marriage and burial records should be collected nationally, in order to provide statistical information.

The need to make all the records collected and recorded at these important events, standardised throughout the country was also of growing importance.

the history cont2
The History (cont.)

The Church could not be forced by law to keep these records, as it was usually the parish clerk or vicar who would record the details.

the history cont3
The History (cont.)
  • As more people turned to the non-conformist religions many of these events were never being recorded.
  • It was, therefore, decided to establish the General Register Office in 1836, and the post of Registrar General was created.
  • He then appointed Superintendent Registrars to perform the civil duties in connection with the legal preliminaries to marriages, and to conduct wedding ceremonies at their offices.
the history cont4
The History (cont.)
  • The Registrar General also appointed Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
  • Their duties included, not just the registration of events, but also the making of an additional copy of each entry to be forwarded to the General Register Office so that statistics could be compiled and copies of entries issued from there as well as local offices.
  • These tasks are still being carried out today, over 170 years later, although the registration service is now provided by the Local Authorities,
the history cont5
The History (cont.)
  • One of the most common misconceptions people have when they first start to think about their family history is that the must “write to Somerset House”.
  • Somerset House was where the first General Register Office was located, but this is no longer the case.
  • Postal applications must now be sent to: PO Box 2, Southport, Merseyside, PR8 2JD.
  • Telephone orders can be made on 0845 603 7788
the history cont6
The History (cont.)
  • Microfilmed copies of the General Register Office indexes can be consulted in many local centres and on the internet.
  • From these you can find the district where the event occurred and apply to the local office.
  • This tends to be quicker and cheaper than going through the General Register Office.
the history cont7
The History (cont.)
  • Another point I must make for anyone new to family history is that you cannot actually search through the registers.
  • At most register offices you will be asked to complete an application form and the staff will then consult the indexes to locate the entry before opening any registers.
the history cont8
The History (cont.)
  • Searches of the INDEXES ONLY can be undertaken by the public, for which a charge is payable.
  • However, many offices have very limited facilities due to lack of space, and staff, who need to supervise the search, and verify the entries before issuing the correct certificate for the usual fee.
  • For many people it is much easier to search for entries on the internet, as this means that they are not restricted to office opening times and can be much quicker than searching through old manual indexes.
the registration service today
The Registration Service Today
  • Since Civil Registration began in 1837 there have been many changes in our society.
  • As most of our Primary Legislation stems from Acts passed in 1837, they restrict change without new laws being passed.
  • In the last 20 years more changes have been made that in the previous 150, and more changes to the way events are registered, or where and how services may be provided are constantly under revue.
the registration service today cont
The Registration Service Today (cont.)
  • Anyone who has had to register an event in recent years could not have failed to notice that most offices are now computerised.
  • A completely new computer package was introduced in 2007 which links every office in England and Wales with the General Register Office at Southport.
  • However, the system could not be made to work properly, so many offices are still unable to use this system.
the registration service today cont1
The Registration Service Today (cont.)
  • Eventually, when we get back on this national system, we hope this will benefit not just us, but the general public and family historians, as there is a possibility that, in the near future, we will be able to link-up to other local offices as well as the General Register Office.
the registration service today cont2
The Registration Service Today (cont.)
  • Although many of our registrations are quite straight-forward, we do occasionally have very complicated issues to deal with.
  • One example of this is the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990.
  • Under this legislation a child born to a surrogate mother, where the eggs and sperm used in the conception are those of the commissioning parents, must first be registered as the child of the surrogate parents.
the registration service today cont3
The Registration Service Today (cont.)
  • A Parental Order must then be applied for, within 6 months of the birth, and sent by the Family Proceedings Court to the Registrar General, who then obtains a copy of the original birth entry and re-registers the birth in the Parental Order Register, which he is required to keep.
  • He will then issue instructions for the original birth entry to be annotated.
  • A surrogate child, on reaching the age of 18 years, has the right of access to their original birth entry, after the Registrar General has informed them where counselling services are available.
the registration service today cont4
The Registration Service Today (cont.)
  • Similarly, under the Adoptions Act 1976, there is also a special register held at the General Register Office.
  • Copies from the Adopted Children’s Register can only be obtained from the Registrar General.
  • Copies of the original birth entry of an adopted person can be obtained from the district where the birth occurred, provided sufficient information can be given to locate the entry and the Superintendent Registrar is satisfied that the applicant knows the identity of the child.
the registration service today cont5
The Registration Service Today (cont.)
  • People adopted before 12th November 1975, who wish to gain access to their original birth entry, must first attend a counselling interview.
  • For people adopted after this date, counselling is optional.
  • At the end of a counselling interview the person would be given a form with sufficient information for them to trace their original birth entry.
the registration service today cont6
The Registration Service Today (cont.)
  • As prescribed by the Children Act 1989, an Adoption Contact Register is now held at the General Register Office in 2 parts.
  • Part 1 is a record of adopted persons, over 18, who wish to make contact with relatives.
  • Part 2 is a record of relatives who wish to contact adopted persons.
  • If a match is made, the name and address of the relative is sent to the adopted person. It is then up to them to decide if they still want to make the contact.
the registration service today cont7
The Registration Service Today (cont.)
  • If a child is found abandoned there is provision in the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 for an entry to be made in the Register of Abandoned Children kept at the General Register Office.
  • Documentary evidence, such as a Police Report, a medical opinion as to the probable age of the child and what names it is to be given are sent to the Registrar General.
  • A person who was abandoned in childhood and is now over 18 years old, can apply for the registration or re-registration of his or her own birth.
the registration service today cont8
The Registration Service Today (cont.)
  • There are occasions when a registrar is unable to register a death because it appears from the details on the doctor’s medical cause of death certificate that it may have been due to an illness of Industrial origin.
  • In these cases the matter must be reported to the Coroner for further enquiries to be made.
  • This can be quite important if there is a surviving spouse as Industrial Compensation may be due.
  • A death must also be reported to the Coroner where any unnatural circumstances are involved, or there has been an operation, or no doctor has seen the deceased.
the registration service today cont9
The Registration Service Today (cont.)
  • When an event is registered the registrar will ask for some additional details that will not be entered into the register.
  • Some of these are required under the Population Statistics Act 1938, and are strictly confidential.
  • Others are to determine status and economic activity and may be used by approved researchers outside the Office of National Statistics.
  • Postcodes are collected to define the residential area and can be used; for deaths, to see if certain diseases are obviously occurring more in one area than another; and for births, to help to determine how many schools are likely to be needed in the future.
the registration service today cont10
The Registration Service Today (cont.)
  • There are a number of other duties a registrar must perform after registering a birth or death. These include:-
  • Issuing certificates;
  • notifying the Local Council Tax Authority; certain Government departments and Professional Bodies of the deaths of their pensioners;
  • The Spanish Consul (as agreed by Article 29(5) of the Anglo-Spanish Consular Convention 1963;
  • and, under the National Health Service Act 1977 we must notify the Area Health Authority of all births and deaths, and issue a form showing the National Health Service number for registering a baby with a doctor.
the registration service today cont11
The Registration Service Today (cont.)
  • Now, on to marriages. One of the few life events where you are fully aware of what is going on (in most cases anyway!!!)
  • There are certain legal impediments to getting married in this country. These include:-
  • If you are already married;
  • If both parties were born the same sex (unless one has a gender recognition certificate and their birth has been re-registered to reflect the acquired gender);
  • If one or both parties is under 16 years old;
  • or if they are related to each other to certain degrees. This is called Prohibited Degrees of Relationship and includes adopted and surrogate relations.
the registration service today cont12
The Registration Service Today (cont.)
  • On the day of the wedding it is the person who is registering the marriage, NOT the Superintendent Registrar or other person conducting it, who has the legal responsibility for ensuring that everything is in order and that the marriage will be valid according to the law of this country.
  • This responsibility includes making sure that all legal preliminaries have been dealt with, that all the paperwork is in order and that certain words are spoken during the ceremony.
  • It is also important to ensure that neither party is acting under duress and that it is not a sham marriage purely to avoid normal immigration procedures.
the registration service today cont13
The Registration Service Today (cont.)
  • One of the most recent ‘trends’ increasing in popularity is couples wishing to get married abroad.
the registration service today cont14
The Registration Service Today (cont.)
  • Whilst standing on ‘soft golden sand’ with ‘crystal clear water lapping around your feet’ and ‘the sun’s rays peeping through the palm leaves’ may sound idyllic, what people tend to forget is that they are actually getting married in a ‘Foreign Country’ under the law of that land, even if their marriage has been arranged through a British Tour Operator!
the registration service today cont15
The Registration Service Today (cont.)
  • Once they get back home to reality they might think “let’s go down to the local registrar’s office and ask them to register our marriage here”, only to be told by us “sorry, there is no provision under English Law for the marriage to be registered locally!” “Contact the Overseas Registration Section at the General Register Office for advice”.
  • One last question we are often asked is:- “Is my marriage valid in this country?”.
  • Our only response to this has to be that it is up to the COURTS to decide if a foreign marriage is valid in this country, and that if the couple have any concerns, they should seek legal advice.
the registration service today cont16
The Registration Service Today (cont.)
  • There are certain offences that can be committed under the various Registration Acts. A few examples of these are:-
  • A registrar who discloses confidential information collected under the Population Statistics Act is liable to a fine
  • A registrar who uses liquid paper or tries to erase anything out of a register by any other means, or falsifies their accounts is liable to instant dismissal.
the registration service today cont17
The Registration Service Today (cont.)
  • All registration offices must have a sign displayed (form 176), stating that anyone registering a birth or death or arranging a marriage is liable to prosecution for perjury if they deliberately give false information.
the registration service today cont18
The Registration Service Today (cont.)
  • Finally, the more recent additions to the duties of some Registrars include:
  • Civil Partnership ceremonies (often referred to as same sex ‘weddings’)
  • Nationality checking service (for people wishing to become British Citizens who have already completed the paperwork to be sent to the Home Office)
  • Citizenship ceremonies (once British citizenship has been agreed by the Home Office)
  • and, Civil Funerals (for those people who wish to have very little or no religious content at a family funeral)
the registration service today cont19
The Registration Service Today (cont.)
  • So now I hope you can all see that registrars do not just sit behind a desk, asking a lot of questions !