If I Can't Find My Ancestor's Birth Certificate, Does That Mean They Weren't Ever Born?


3 Answers

Kath Senior Profile
Kath Senior answered
No, because if your ancestor had not been born, you would not exist. The reasons why you may not be able to locate their birth certificate in the records are many and varied.

Birth certificates are only available for people born after July 1837, which is when Civil Registration began. Before that, the only way to locate a birth record is in the Parish Register of their village or local church.

After 1837, the names of everyone whose birth was registered is kept in the General Registration Office index. However, during the early years of civil registration, some births were no registered because parents were only legally required to give details of their child's birth if the registrar asked for them. Later, it became compulsory and parents were fined if they did not register their children.

Of course, even if you ancestor was registered, someone may have made a mistake in compiling or copying the index and could have missed them off. Sometimes, despite the best research efforts, some birth certificates remain elusive, although the original copy will exist in the main register books.
Gillian Smith Profile
Gillian Smith answered
If you know the date of birth or even approximate date of birth for your ancestor you can attempt to kind the record of their birth.
Prior to the September Quarter of 1837 you would have turn to Parish Registers whic are often lodged or copies lodged with local Archives and Record Offices.

It may be that your ancestor was not born in England or Wales. Irish research can be difficult but for Scotland the website Scotlnads People is an excellent resource and has records dating back to the 1500's on the site.

You could use a site such as Ancestry and search the Birth Records for England and Wales or try Family Search Org, the Latter Day Saints resource.

Your ancestor may have been born abroad or at sea so look at the records that deal with such births.

You could try looking at census returns to see if you an locate the place of birth of your ancestor. Census returns can be a very good resource for tracing approximate age, occupations and place of birth.

Your ancestor had to exist as you're here to ask the question!
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
I'm in the same "boat". My grandmother was born in the China seas. Her father was a sea captain on merchant ships and based in Australia. I have her marriage certificate and contacted the church where she was married. I thought they had to provide birth certificates to get married? The Archivist was very helpful and sent me a huge amount of information about the family, but she could not locate a birth certificate. Do some people never register a birth I wonder.

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