Guide and Commentary

by John Dixon, updated November 2017

Births Marriages and Deaths [BMD]

  1. Until 1837 recorded by Church authorities but very patchy
    1. Baptisms rather than Births – depending on beliefs and resources do the family, the poor would often baptised by batch to save money
    2. The main source of this information is the work of the Church of Latter Day Saints [Mormons] on www.familysearch.com
  2. from Sept. 1837-1983 responsibility increasingly of the state
    1. The General Register Office for England and Wales (GRO) was founded in 1836 by the The Marriage Act
    2. Births and Deaths Registration Act, and civil registration commenced in Sept 1837 but not compulsory until B& D from 1875.
      NB all BMD for Tewkesbury after 1937 registered in Cheltenham.
      This information is made available by volunteers on www.freeBMD.com – less reliable in later 20th century.
  3. The information allows a researcher to BUY Certificates [www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates] from the GRO at £9.25p in 2017 [takes less than 3 weeks]
  4. for modern [especially post 1983] registrations, I use www.genesreunited.co.uk [only viewing the Index is Free]

Census Information

In 2017 only useful for researchers 1841-1911 [& 1939 exceptionally] and only available on commercial sites [S Ancestry and FMP] Scottish Censuses via FMP for  1841-1901 and Scotland’s People for 1911 [www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [£7.50 for 30 tokens – 5 records] go to Advanced People Search]

However thanks to volunteers information for Tewkesbury 1841-1901 is available to members on the online Woodard Database

Information on habitations [home and families] recorded but only as accurate as the skill of the paid Enumerator who may or may not have understood the accent of the heads of household he interviewed.  Until later censuses, street numbers absent or inaccurate.

Census information usually collected at Easter [which varies each year according to the moon!]
  • The 1911 Census is very valuable because filled in by Head of Household and handed in to Enumerator but thus depended on his honesty and literacy – but hand writing revealed in an age benefitting from compulsory education [from 1891]; it also records length of marriage; and numbers of deceased children.
Military Censuses were imposed ahead of conscription in
  • 1915 – only available in some county record offices.  Tewkesbury’s has been photographed by awaits a volunteer to transcribe from poorly written hand documents.
  • 1939 – only available by S from www.findmypast.co.uk  National Registration Day was 29 September 1939 - having issued forms to more than 41 million people, the enumerators were charged with the task of visiting every household in Great Britain and Northern Ireland to collect the names, addresses, martial statuses and other key details of every civilian in the country, issuing identity cards on the spot [compulsory until 1952].  However some are closed records for the sake of ‘confidentiality’ - either because they were born after 1915 and are still alive, or born after 1915 and their death hasn't been recorded in the register. 
The 1921 Census should be available for 2022 but will depend on commercial sites for access [Subscription]

Land Tax Records

Thanks to the work of member Wendy Snarey, THS Members can have access to the invaluable ‘Lloyd George Domesday’ survey undertaken 1909-1913 which recorded property information and offers names of occupiers and owners.

Electoral Roll Information

Electoral Roll Information increasingly available on subscription sites such as Ancestry and FMP

Military Information

  1. War Dead For World Wars available on www.cwgc.orgbutWW1 = 1914-1921 & WWII 1939-c1950; NB for WWI families charged for inscriptions so poor often had minimum information; free in WWII [Free]
  2. Military Service Records [for WWI 60 destroyed in Blitz] Medal Records & Silver Wound Badges better on www.Ancestry.co.uk  [S]
  3. GI's at Ashchurch during World War II see John Dixon's website G.I. Gateway  [Free]

Wills and Probate

  1. Ancestry [Subscription] seems much better than FMP
  2. Government online websitewww.gov.uk/search-will-probateprovides a free index and £10 to download full document. Covers dates 1858-1996
    Pre-1858: Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) Wills: order copies from the National Archives
  3. Scottish Wills and testaments (1500-1901) www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [£7.50 for 30 tokens – 5 records] go to Advanced People Search
  4. an Invaluable tool - It is impossible to get an accurate value of money in the past but  http://www.measuringworth.com/ukcompare/  tries.

Other useful sites

  • Birth, Marriage and Death Civil Registration,Free BMD Free, but not comprehensive.
  • Birth, Marriage and Death Civil Registration, Genes Re-United  Its index is a good supplement to FREEBMD which is weak after 1937.  Remember all BMD for Tewkesbury after 1937 registered in Cheltenham. If you wish to see detail, then you will need to subscribe.
  • Most Gloucestershire Birth, Marriages and Deaths are covered by a Glos. Familv History Society Index.
  • Birth, Marriage and Death Civil Registration, buying Certificates online - Office of National Statistics.
  • www.familysearch.com free and good for pre-1837.
  • Tewkesbury online Woodard Database - free to THS Members - ever growing with nearly 90,000 records.
  • Access to On-line Reference Library using your Library Card. Includes Oxford Dictionary of Biography, Times Archives, 19th century newspapers archive, and more. Ancestry and FMP available too - but only at the library. (Note: you may have to preface your library card number with '77').
  • British Pathe Database - view and download movie clips from the database of the famous newsreel company. Search on "Tewkesbury" and you will find several items, including Princess Alice opening the Hospital. Only stills are  F – movies = S.
  • National Archives formerly known as Public Record Office.
  • Gloucestershire Archives formerly County Record Office - always best to ring in advance and discuss needs - free, but car parking and photography attract fees..
  • G.I. Gateway John Dixon's website concerning GI's at Ashchurch during World War II - free. 
  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission free and even includes civilian dead in WWII - now with information about cemeteries.
  • British Army World War I service and pension records are online via Ancestry Military Records Searching the name index is free. Pages from the original files are available by subscription or with pay per view from Ancestry.co.uk (WWII getting better).  
  • Wills after 1858: order copies of wills online: https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/#wills
  • Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) Wills pre-1858: order copies from the National Archives. 
  • It is impossible to get an accurate value of money in the past but  http://www.measuringworth.com/ukcompare/  tries hard to give various views. (Website would appreciate a voluntary donation but does not pester.)
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