Civil Registration Timeline

1538 Thomas CROMWELL issues orders for parish registers to be kept to record every ‘wedding, christening, and burying’.
1753 Lord HARDWICKE act for ‘the better preventing of clandestine marriages’ means all marriages must take place within the established church (except for those of Jews and Quakers.
1834 When the New Poor Law (1834) replaced the Elizabethan statutes that regulated parish relief, workhouse inmates’ religious rights were protected.
1835 The government began keeping central records of prisons in England following the passing of the Goals Act and the 1835 Prisons Act.
1836 An ‘act for registering births, deaths, and marriages’ is finally passed with an accompanying Marriage Act (relaxing HARDWICKE’s rules and enabling civil marriages).
1837 Only a few days after Victoria becomes Queen, civil registration begins in England and Wales on 1st July.
1845 The registration of non – Catholic marriages in Ireland begins.
1855 Civil registrations introduced in Scotland on 1st January.
1858 New divorce laws made ending an unhappy marriage a realistic proposition for the first time.
1864 Full introduction of civil registration in Ireland takes place on 1st January.
1874 A registration act is passed updating the 1836 act. Deaths now require a doctor’s certificate and an unmarried father must attend and sign the register to be named on a birth entry.
1898 The Authorized Persons Act means that nonconformist places of worship can now conduct marriages without a registrar needing to attend.
1911 The General Register Office indexes now show a maiden name on birth entries.
1912 Spouse’s surnames are added to the GRO’s marriage indexes.
1926 The Legitimacy Act allows births to be re – registered if the unwed parents have subsequently married.
1926 Yet another birth and deaths registration act introduce the registration of still born children.
1927 Adoption is legally regulated, and the General Register Office creates the Adopted Children Register to record details.
1969 The first major changes to the format of birth and death certificates takes place.  The surname of the child is now specified, as well as the parent’s place of birth.
2005 Civil Partnerships are introduced.
2014 The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 comes into force, the first marriage in England and Wales is in March, Scotland follows at the end of the year.
2016 The General Register Office introduces an online index showing maiden names on birth entries and ages at death on death entries back to 1837. Trials begin of a system to supply PDFs of historic birth and death entries.
2021 Long running proposals to add the mothers name to marriage registers are finally implemented.