Civil Registration of births, marriages and deaths (known as "Vital Records" in some countries) started on 1 July 1837 for England and Wales under the control of the General Register Office and its head, The Registrar General.
- For further information see Civil Registration in England and Wales.
The General Register Office (GRO) has,at various times, been part of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) and is now part of The Home Office with a consequent changes of URL for their web site – HM Passport Office – General Register Office.
FreeBMD is an ambitious project to make the G.R.O. (formerly St Catherine's) birth, marriage and death indexes available online. Thanks to an enthusiastic band of 11,000+ transcribers, the searchable database now (October 2011) has more than 262,000,000 entries and is adding an amazing 46,000 new entries per day!