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Under-registration

The registers contain the records of all Norfolk births, deaths and marriages from If you do not know the area where the event took place you can contact the General Register Office on and select option 1 for assistance. If you need a certified copy of an entry you can request, pay for and then track your order using the online form and your My Norfolk customer account.


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If you already have a My Norfolk account, you may need to reset your password using the Forgot your password? Request a copy certificate. They kept, as was well known, congregational registries of baptisms and burials, and also a registry of births; but these registries were not public records, and extracts from them could not be received in evidence.


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Wilks was clear: without an all-embracing and tamper-proof system of birth registration, identity, age, lines of descent and property rights could not be established. The time had come for civil registration. The Act for the Registering of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in England resulted in a tiered organisation of local registrars working under superintendent registrars, who in turn were answerable to the Registrar General in London. Certainly, he had an incentive 2s 6d for the first 20 births and deaths collected each year, 1s for each entry thereafter.


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He even had help in the form of printed notices outside churches and chapels urging participation in registration. But this was a largely illiterate population and there was bound to be confusion in the early days. On the one hand we find an increase in the number of baptisms just before the introduction of civil registration, suggesting that people thought baptism was equivalent to registering a birth.

How can I get a birth, death or marriage certificate from England?

On the other hand, we have a plethora of pamphlets with names like The Church Register not superseded by the New Register , Registration is not Baptism and A Few Plain Remarks on the Registration of Births and on the Impropriety of Naming Children before Baptism , all of which suggest that the Anglican clergy felt a need to stress the distinction between religious rite and civil record.

And finally we find several clear and tragic instances of a line being drawn in the sand.