Searching the BMDs

I’ve decided to start filling in the blanks in the maternal side of my family tree – namely the dates of birth, marriage and death for all four maternal great-grandparents – by locating the marriages in the indexes on I’m starting with my great-grandparents’ marriages because while she was unable to provide me with these dates, my mum did tell me when my grandparents were born and also roughly when their elder siblings were. By using this information, I can make a couple of educated guesses as to the likely years of marriage, making my search a lot easier.

I know that George and Lucy Mead’s eldest child was born at the end of 1925 and that Lucy’s maiden name was Wright. I therefore decided to search the marriage indexes (accessible via the ‘births, marriages & deaths’ tab at the top of the homepage) for a marriage between 1920 and 1930. Despite knowing Lucy’s maiden name, I decided to search for George Mead as I felt his name was the more unique and that this would help me sift through the records more effectively. This search brought up a screen of telephone directory-esque pages as follows,

BMD results

BMD results - click to enlarge

While my search covered 10 years, I decided to start viewing the records from the year I would initially expect to see George and Lucy getting married, namely the year preceding their eldest’s birth (the end of 1924 – the end of 1925). This turned out to be a masterstroke as I quickly spotted a likely looking marriage in the first quarter of 1925; the index shows that a George W. Mead was married to a woman with the surname Wright in West Ham.

George Mead JFM 1925

George Mead in the marriage indexes

Feeling like a detective, I returned to the marriage index search screen to check that the Ms Wright was indeed a Lucy. This second search, for Lucy Wright in the first quarter of 1925, resulted in further success as I spotted a Lucy M. Wright marrying a Mead – also in West Ham! The GRO reference (the code at the right of the record) for both George and Lucy’s entries also matched, reassuring me that the entries relate to the same marriage.

JFM1925 zoom on Lucy Wright

Lucy Wright in the marriage indexes

Now confident that these records refer to my great-grandparents’ marriage, I have ordered my first ever certificate from the General Register Office. This was surprisingly simple to do as you can now order BMD certificates online through the GRO website, One tip: make sure you record the GRO reference provided in the indexes at as you’ll need these numbers when ordering the certificate. The first part of the reference provided refers to the volume number (in George and Lucy’s case, this is 4a), while the second section is the page number (175 in this example).

Using the same tactics, I’ve also managed to locate the marriage of my other set of maternal great-grandparents and have ordered their marriage certificate too. The certificates cost me £7 each and should be with me in about a week – I can’t wait!

One Response to “Searching the BMDs”

  1. Ann Johnstone Says:

    Congratulations on tracing your gt. grandparents’ marriage. You are so right in that looking for one’s ancestors IS detective work. It can require patience when hunting for names and you are fortunate in having ‘young’ gt grandparents. In other words it is easier for you to trace them as Maiden names do not appear on Marriage GRO records before 1911(?) if memory serves. You will eventually need the Parish registers as you go back in time.
    I know HOW exciting it is waiting for the certificates to arrive! It opens up a whole new world then. I remember waiting for the marriage cert. of my gt grandparents and feeling rather let down that my gt gt grandfather and HIS father shared the same given name. Maybe that was a common practise in the past! Kind regards Ann

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