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175 years of civil registration

The General Registrar Office (GRO) celebrated an important birthday on 1st July – it is 175 years since the civil registration service began in England and Wales. Since that date every birth and death has had to be registered by a local registrar.

According to Sarah Rapson, the current Registrar General for England and Wales, “The world today is very different to that of 1837, but some of the key reasons why the system was set up are still valid today:

• the need to record all births that take place, as a protection to the individual who has been born as well as to aid with planning of services

• the need to clearly record marriages in a way which brought clarity to a previously erratic system

• the need to record each death – again, as a protection to individuals but also so that information on causes of death could be collated and studied.”

Based largely in Southport, Merseyside, the GRO now holds over 260 million records.


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