Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Analysis on recent GRO developments

Audrey Collins from the National Archives at Kew has posted some interesting thoughts on her Family Recorder blog concerning recent developments at the GRO in Southport. This follows Peter Calver's recent Lost Cousins newsletter piece on 'topsy turvy logic at the GRO' (, this blog's announcement last Friday of 27 job losses at the facility (see and some gleanings from Audrey herself on recent calls made to local record offices by the GRO on a 'fact-finding' mission.

It's well worth a read at  I'm particularly interested in the suggestion that the digitisation of Church of England marriage registers and their availability online might be a factor in the decline in demand at the GRO - a point I have heard raised in relation to archives and their content, but not yet to the GRO. Food for thought!



  1. I've been following all of this from Canada, so maybe I can offer another perspective. Firstly, I agree with all that has been written, but there may be another way that BMDs may be made cheaper. It would require a change in legislation, however.

    Perhaps you could follow the example that we have in British Columbia. Genealogists order 'registrations' not 'certificates'. These have all the same information (and in the case of death, more, because it includes the medical details) but are not certified copies. Certified copies are more expensive and required for legal purposes, such as proving a will or court proceedings.

    The extra expense arises in having the thing officially certified. Unless you are very fussy, a registration should do fine. In the case of British Columbia, BMDs are online at the British Columbia Provincial Archives and indexed. You can download a copy of the registration for, I believe $10 (£6.20). I still think this is very pricy, because if you visit the archives in person and print of the registration it is only 40 cents!

    So, do you think changing to registrations rather than certificates would help? Or is the real agenda to cover the cost of that awful mess with MAGPIE, DOVE and EAGLE?

  2. We actually have some simple solutions close to home also. The GRO in the south of Ireland offers photocopies of entries for six Euros, rather than fully certified extracts. Scotland offers digitised images of historic entries online for just over a pound, or entries up to the present day at the ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh can be viewed in an unlimited amount for just £15 a day.

    I suspect coming up with a solution isn't the problem - tackling a mindset is!

    As for MAGPIE, DOVE and EAGLE - it's too close to Christmas for me to lose my temper! lol But the words 'piss-up' and 'brewery' come to mind... :)