Civil Registration

Civil Registration Indexes 1845-1958

The Marriages (Ireland) Act 1844 provided for the registration of marriages except those celebrated by the Roman Catholic Clergy, with effect from 1st April 1845.

The Registration of Births and Deaths (Ireland) Act 1863 provided for the registration of births and deaths with effect from 1st January 1864. Civil registration of births and deaths began later in Ireland than elsewhere. In England and Wales registration began on 1st. July 1837 and in Scotland on 1st. January 1855.

Ireland was divided into Registrarís Districts, each under the charge of a local registrar, to whose office the registrations were made. There were about 800 Registrarís Districts and these were grouped into 140 Unions.

The Registrar of the Union was responsible for collecting the registrations made by his district registrars, and he returned them to the Registrar General in Dublin. The Registrar-Generalís office then compiled composite indices for the whole country.

The repositories and contents

The principal repositories of the civil records, their location (in Dublin and Belfast) and fees are considered elsewhere.

In Belfast the Public Records Office has copies of the printed indexes of births, registered in the whole of Ireland for the period 1864 -1922. In addition the Public Records Office also has the original Register of births and Register of deaths for the six counties.

The LDS Library in Dublin has on microfilm the indices from 1845/1864 to 1921 for the whole of Ireland and to 1959 for the twenty-six counties. In addition the LDS Library has on microfilm some registers for the late 1800ís.

The LDS Library in Belfast has on microfilm the indices from 1845/1864 to 1921 for the whole of Ireland and to 1959 for the six counties. In addition the LDS Library has on microfilm the actual registers for births and deaths to 1877 and for marriages to 1870.

A General Index of Births registered in Ireland for 1864, 1865 and 1866 was published in 1873. This is available in the National Library of Ireland.

Throughout Ireland there are local registration offices, many of which will allow you to search through the actual registers. These local registration offices are listed in the telephone directories.

The indexes

There are volumes which list alphabetically all the entries contained in the registers. The indexes of birth, marriage and death are separate and are in chronological order.

In the volumes, each year is divided into quarters : March, June, September and December.

The quarters are divided as follows :

March quarter entries January, February, March

June quarter entries April, May, June

September quarter entries July, August, September

December quarter entries October, November December.

Each quarter is divided alphabetically.

The indexes will list the name of the person alphabetically (surname and Christian name), the Union where registered, the volume and page in the register as follows: Surname, District, Volume and Page.

The Union is the only guide to the address. Remember that the Unions crossed county boundaries. There are mistakes in the indexes, so one should be aware of that.

You should remember that registration of an event may not necessarily take place on the same date as the event. Registration could have taken place some time later, so that if you are looking for and event which occurred in September it may be recorded in either the September or the December quarter.

Remember while you are searching these records, that it is best to start with someone you know. Start one year before the birth. In genealogical research you must always go from the known to the unknown. If you are unsure of Christian names, remember the tradition as to the naming of children, referred to above.

Birth certificate

The information contained at each entry for which a certificate can be issued is as follows:


    Reference number

    Date of birth

    Place of birth

    Name of child

    Sex of child

    Name & dwelling place of father

    Name & maiden name of mother

    Rank or profession of father

    Informant (usually a parent)

A child may have been registered in the maiden name of the mother. The index will only provide the name of the child. This can present difficulties with a common name. It would be of great assistance to genealogists if the index could also show the name of the parents. At the present time indexes are being prepared showing the maiden name of the mother.

Seeking a child with an unusual name is easiest. It should not be assumed that all births were registered. In the early years of registration, many births were not recorded.

A birth certificate will provide you with the exact date of birth, the names of both parents and an address. If you do not have such information they are worthwhile.

Marriage certificate

The information contained at each entry for which a certificate can be issued is as follows:

    District (usually the home place of wife)

    Reference number

    Date of marriage

    Place of marriage

    Name & Surname of both parties

    Age of each party (Unfortunately it often gives of full age that is over 21 rather than the actual age)

    Condition of each i.e. Bachelor/Widower, Spinster/Widow

    Rank or profession of each

    Residence of each at time of marriage

    Fathers of each :

    Name & Surname

    Rank or Profession

It often happened that a widow and widower would marry each other. If a widow remarries the name on the marriage certificate is not the maiden name, but her previous married surname.

Marriage certificates are most useful. They give most information and bring one back a further generation, because they give the names of both fathers. There are few errors in the Index of Marriages and given that the two parties are listed, there is verification in the index itself. With marriages you can cross check the index by looking for the marriage partner.

One should not waste time searching for a marriage of unknown date. It is possible to get a good idea of the date from the censuses of 1901 and 1911 (this will actually state how long the marriage has lasted). There should be no difficulty tracing a marriage, if the names of both parties are known. If you have no information on the wife, you should firstly seek a birth certificate of a child of the marriage. This will give the motherís maiden name.

Death certificate

The information contained at each entry for which a certificate can be issued is as follows:


    Reference number

    Place of death

    Date of death


    Christian name & Sex of deceased

    Marital status


    Rank or Profession

    Cause of death

    Informant (usually a relative)

It can be seen that the death certificate offers the least information. In addition it cannot be assumed that the age at death is correct. A death certificate will verify a date and place of death, if you are seeking such information. If you do not know a date of death, it might not be worth the time spent finding it out.

Registration Districts
Civil Records Explanation
Irish Civil Registration Clair Santry
Paddy Waldron


Mode of inquiry

The recommended mode of inquiry to be followed when searching through the civil registers is best considered in two stages:

Stage one

On the basis of information already obtained, estimate the date of birth of eldest child of a family, then find the birth certificate of this child which will verify the name of both parents.

Stage two

A birth certificate of the eldest child generally indicates a marriage during the previous year. An estimate of the year of marriage can then be made and a marriage certificate obtained. This will indicate the dates of birth of the parents and give the names of the grandfathers (grandmothers are not noted).

The birth certificate of the husband and wife (or their eldest brother or sister) can then be sought and the process begun again.

This can be continued back in time until one is faced with the problem that the records only began in 1864 (or 1845) as the case may be.

The next step is to move on to the parish registers of the churches.

Civil Registration Indexes 1845-1958

General Registrar's Office, Dublin

General Registrar's Office, Belfast

Scots Origins

English Origins