10 Million Canadians Can Now Find British Roots with UK Birth Indexes

United Kingdom

Canadians searching their Roots in the UK now have access to newly released Birth Indexes.

The following announcement was written by Ancestry.ca:

(Toronto, July 27, 2009) – Ancestry.ca, Canada’s leading family history website, has launched online the England and Wales Birth Indexes, 1837-2005, which contain more than 134 million fully searchable names of everyone born in England and Wales, from the very beginning of civil registration.

Ten million Canadians, or nearly one-third of Canada’s population, claim some form of British ancestry. Birth records – ‘core’ records containing essential information such as full name, date of birth and name of parents – are essential to family history research and this major addition to Ancestry.ca’s historical record collection will be extremely useful to these millions of Canadians who have English and Welsh heritage.

The records will not only allow people to find records that legitimize known family connections with the UK, they can also help find ancestors they never even knew existed.

Additionally, Canadians who are interested in securing their own British nationality can now obtain copies of original records of birth and marriage certificates which prove their UK heritage. 

For the celebrity hunters, this collection provides unrivalled access to some of the world’s most famous names, past and present. International celebrity names in the indexes include Prince William, Russell Brand and Victoria Adams (Beckham). Other famous historical figures include iconic Beatle John Lennon, Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien, and English women’s suffrage activist Emeline Pankhurst.

Because each name has now been individually indexed, for the first time the complete record indexes can reveal name trends over the last 170 years, which prove that Victorian parents also named their children after celebrities of the day. Examples include:

  • Ellen entered the list of most popular names in the 1870s at the same time as the beautiful and glamorous Shakespearean actress Ellen Terry (1847-1928) reached the height of her fame
  • Joseph, once a relatively uncommon name, entered the ‘top ten’ between 1907 and 1915 as the people’s politician and statesman Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914) peaked in popularity
  • Annie was the most popular girl’s name between 1887 and 1896 and was influenced by the world famous Annie Oakley (1860-1926), an American sharpshooter and star of the touring show Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, who performed in person for Queen Victoria

Researching historical birth indexes also tells us that ‘unusual’ modern day celebrity baby names are not as original as we may think.

The first names Brooklyn, Romeo and Apple for example actually all made their debut long before they ‘became famous’ in the last decade, first appearing in the 19th century UK birth indexes.

In partnership with FreeBMD[i], Ancestry has completed indexing the General Records Office (GRO) Birth Indexes for England and Wales dating from 1837 to 2005 by name, registration date and district.

Although all GRO indexes (for records of births, marriages and deaths) have been available online for some time, this is the first time that the birth indexes have been made fully name searchable.

Ancestry is also working with FreeBMD to fully index the GRO’s Marriage and Death indexes. When complete[ii], the England and Wales Birth, Marriage and Death Indexes from 1837 to 2005 will contain more than 250 million fully searchable names – available only on Ancestry.ca.

Ancestry.ca Marketing Director Karen Peterson comments: “These records will be of huge relevance to many Canadians given that such a large percentage of the Canadian population – an estimated one in three – has British ancestry.

“By indexing these records for the first time, fascinating name trends can be revealed, highlighting that highly unusual names are neither a new trend, nor one exclusive to the celebrity culture.”