Searching the FreeBMD site
The FreeBMD website is an extremely useful site for English amd Welsh records, the site does not contain every record but has a vast collection of results from 1837 to around 1915. The transcribing of the records is carried out by teams of dedicated volunteers. It is updated regularly and you can see clearly from the links on the home page how the project is progressing.
N.B. Don't be distracted by the button (it is sometimes a search box) at the top of the page since this is an advertisement and not part of this site.
Searching for a birth or death follows the same pattern as for that of a marriage. Using the mother's surname in searching for a birth will not be helpful until after 1911.
Searching for a marriage is easier using this site rather than using the Partial BMD Indexes on Ancestry as it is possible to eliminate the possibilities by a search on both surnames for marriages before 1912.
The visual below shows a straightforward search for a marriage where the surnames of both spouses are already known. When you only know the name of the groom and the forename of the bride, things can get more complicated before you know exactly which certificate to send off for from the GRO.
Visual Guide to a more Complicated search for a marriage.
If you enter nothing at all in the surname field but enter in the first name field a surname with a + sign in front of it, this produces entries in which the name was used either as a forename or a middle name. To give you an example.....
Entering just "Stockdill" in the first name field produces only ONE entry, for a child called Stockdill Middlebrook registered in 1896 at Dewsbury.
But if I enter "+Stockdill" in the first name field, nothing in the surname field and choose All Types, this produces NINE other entries for births, marriages and deaths where Stockdill was given as a middle name. I can then identify all of these as being either relatives of mine or linked to my one-name study.
Remember, it's important to put the + sign before the name and the more unusual the surname the better the chance you have of finding the entries. Looking for people with Smith as a middle name will not be very helpful.
When searching for a marriage where the brides surname is unknown, enter the criteria that you are sure of, and add her foreman to the correct box. This can substantially reduce the returns for a common grooms name, and reap dividens if that forename of the bride is unusual.
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