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Evidentia meets a UK BMD – Revisited

Last weeks dive into the UK Birth registration of Reginald Charles Deller created a lot of conversation, especially about the correct citation format to use. There was also a missed clue that needs to be called out. I decided to revisit this record and the corresponding citation both to correct some errors on my part and to demonstrate how to create a citation template.

BMDThe image to the right shows the certificate in question. If you recall, I chose to use the template for Local Vital Records: Certificate since it was straightforward and seemed to have a place for all the information I needed to collect.

I was wrong.

Corrected Citation

Caroline Gurney rightly pointed out that “When citing a certificate, the most important pieces of information are the certificate type, the name(s) and …¬†the GRO (General Register Office) index reference required to order that certificate.” Caroline¬†then provided this example of a good citation:

Birth certificate of Reginald Charles Deller, GRO Index Ref: 1908 Q4 Fulham, Volume 1a, Page 269.

Emma Compton then pointed out that Evidence Explained1 p475 also provides a format for English/Welsh certificates. Emma provided this example:

England, birth certificate (certified copy) for Reginald Charles Deller, born 7 November 1908; registered December quarter 1908, Fulham District 1a/269/61, North West Fulham Sub-district, London; General Registry Office, Southport.

Both formats are valid and provide information necessary for retrieving the record.

Creating a Template

The current set of templates in Evidentia were created based on the Quickcheck Models in Evidence Explained1. The format we are interested in is referenced on pp 474-475, but does not have a corresponding Quickcheck model, so no template was created for it (yet).

What if I want to create my own? Based on the example above, the first step is to identify what information is static (stays the same) and what information will vary from entry to entry. I have highlighted the information I believe will vary:

England, birth certificate (certified copy) for Reginald Charles Deller, born 7 November 1908; registered December quarter 1908, Fulham District 1a/269/61, North West Fulham Sub-district, London; General Registry Office, Southport.

I could have included “England”, since the template should work for England or Wales, but I decided I would create a separate template for Wales as a convenience. I could also have include “General Registry Office, Southport”, since sometimes the registration is ordered from a local office, but again determined I would probably use a separate template for that as as well. Providing multiple versions of the template decreases the typing required when filling out the templates.

Having identified the dynamic fields, I now need to give them meaningful field names.

England, birth certificate ([Certificate Type]) for [First Name] [Last Name], born [Birth Date]; registered [Registration Quarter], [Registration District] [Volume]/[Page]/[Entry Nbr], [Birth Sub-district] Sub-district, [Birth County]; General Registry Office, Southport.

As you can see, in some cases I chose to break a field into multiple sub fields. This is more art than science, so whatever works for you.
Entering the above in the Template Creator and doing the same for the Source listing will allow me to choose this template in the future.

Since the format of some of the above fields is not intuitive, we should provide examples in the Tooltip (place holder) box.

[Certificate Type|certified copy, hand copied, short form, etc…]

A tool tip (place holder) includes the field name, followed by the ‘|’ character, followed by the example text. The whole block should be surrounded with brackets, and no comma is required between definitions. The Complete entry would look like this:

[Certificate Type|certified copy, hand copied, short form, etc…][First Name|Reginald Charles] [Last Name|Deller][Birth Date | 7 November 1908][Registration Quarter|December quarter 1908][Registration District|Fulham][Volume|1a][Page|269][Entry Nbr|61][Birth Sub-district|North West Fulham][Birth County|London]

Note that the field names must match those defined in the listing template exactly.

Here is the new template definition:


This is what I will see if I choose to use that template:


Did We Miss Something

Several people pointed out that the inclusion of the birth TIME in the certificate was significant, in that it usually (almost always? always?) indicates that this birth was a part of multiple births. That means siblings! How best to capture that?

Originally I thought that would be part of an analysis, since we don’t want to draw conclusions early. After more thought I decided I would want to include that as a claim, so that it would show up in the right place in a Research Summary Report. What is the right place? How about documentation for a parents children.

The value of this information in a proof is not as great as the indication that “there is more research to be done”.

Here is the list of claims from the last post, with the new claim appended.

This source claims that… Subject/Claim Type
Reginald Charles [Deller] was born at 11:50 AM the Seventh of November, 1908 at 6 Rainville Road in Fulham, as reported by the mother E. L. Deller on December 18, 1908 Deller, Reginald Charles/Birth
Deller, Reginald Charles/Residence
Sheppard, Emily Lavinia/Residence
Deller, John/Residence
the father of Reginald Charles [Deller] was John Deller, as reported by the mother E. L. Deller on December 18, 1908 Deller,Reginald Charles/Parent(s)
Deller, John/Child(ren)
Deller, John/Spouse
Sheppard, Emily Lavinia/Spouse
the mother of Reginald Charles [Deller] was Emily Lavinia (Sheppard) Deller, as reported by the mother E. L. Deller on December 18, 1908 Deller,Reginald Charles/Parent(s)
Sheppard, Emily Lavinia/Child(ren)
in November of 1908 John Deller worked as a general laborer Deller, John/Occupation
the birth record for Reginald Charles Deller includes a time of birth, possibly indicating that the mother gave birth to multiple children on that date Sheppard, Emily Lavinia/Child(ren)
Deller, John/Child(ren)

I could have included “Unknown/Parent(s)” in the Subject/Claim Type box, but I think in this case the real target is the other certificate (or certificates), and the example above will suffice to flag the evidence that needs to be followed up on in the Research Summary Report.


Hopefully I have corrected the mistakes and omissions from lasts weeks post, as well as provided an example to show how easy it is to create your own citation templates.

If you have created some templates of your own, and believe they are of general interest, please send them to me, and I may include them in the next update of Evidentia.

1 Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3rd ed.
(Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2015), pp. 474-475.

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  1. Sorry I’m late to see this! Great post, a very helpful lesson in creating a citation template, I’m sure I’ll refer to this often, as most of my citations will need to be customized. Thank you!

    PS I think it’s the first time I’ve ever been mentioned in a blog post!

  2. Better late than never, been away on holiday. A great follow-up Ed which certainly adds to and aids the process. Do you fancy doing a UK marriage and death certificate? Quite happy to supply copies of relevant certificates.

  3. Hello. I have just installed Evidentia and am impressed – thank you for writing it, and thank you for providing a linux version.
    I hope you don’t mind me being just a little bit critical – perhaps I am being too pedantic.

    UK BMD registers are books with entries in them. Indexes to the registers are fairly easy to find (eg freebmd.org.uk). A typical index entry will be:
    Births September 1885 Greening Albert George Merthyr T. 11a 505
    The index does not supply the actual birth date, only the quarter in which the birth was registered (the actual birth may have been in the previous quarter I have an ancestor who died on the 30th December – the Registry Office was closed, and did not re-open until 2 January the following year).

    You can either visit the PRO at Kew and ask to see the original, using that reference, or order a “Certified copy of the entry” (a Birth Certificate).

    For my Scottish ancestors, the registers are at New Register House, Edinburgh. The Scottish Government has been more helpful than their Westminster counterparts, and have digitised the records. It is a service you have to pay for, but for a lower cost you can see (and download) an image of the page in the register containing the entry. It is a photocopy of the original, not a certificate.

    Once I have grasped more fully the way Evidentia works, I will be able to assess whether an existing template fits the bill (when the source is the index to the register, or when the source is an image of the register page), or whether it will be better if I make my own templates.

  4. Thanks for a great post. I have just started entering information about England BMD so this is really useful.

    Information on England Births, Marriages & Deaths are initially registered in the Local Registry Office this information is then transferred to a central repository on a quarterly basis Рthe General Registry Office, London. Each of these has it’s own index which are different. A certificate can be provided by either the Local or General Registry but will need different reference details.

    I have thus created 3 templates for birth, 3 for death & 3 for marriage:

    Local Index – information on CheshireBMD
    GRO Index – information found on familysearch or FreeBMD
    Certificate – certified copy

    I have examples of these that I can email but can’t find how to paste images into comments.

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