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Evidentia Meets a UK BMD

I get asked a lot from people in the UK and Australia if Evidentia will work for them. ¬†The short answer¬†is yes, but I understand the concern. ¬†Most of the sample templates for citations are based on Evidence Explained, and there is a bias in a lot of software developed in the¬†US for…well…the US way of doing things. ¬†It is not that US software developers intend¬†to be biased, its just that US practices and standards is all that some of us¬†know. ¬†In fact¬†if anyone knows of a standard for genealogy citations for records outside the US, please let me know – we would love to enhance our template offering.

Having said that, Evidentia is NOT just about citation formats, and most, if not all, of the concepts supported by Evidentia are universal – we are talking about documenting and organizing our research after all. ¬†Is there really an¬†“American” versus “British” way of organizing?

Sure, our biscuits are in the breakfast food aisle and theirs are in the snack food aisle, but…wait what were we talking about? ¬†I digress.


Our friend Rod Deller in the Evidentia Google+ group suggested this weeks Evidentia Meets topic – a BMD from the UK. He even offered his father’s birth certificate for our example.

(I have been told a BMD is shorthand for the government Birth, Marriage, Death registry – yes, I had to ask ūüėČ )

Feel free to enlarge the image on the right as you follow along. Some of the handwriting can be a bit hard to read.

Citation for a UK Record

I have avoided working on citations in the Evidentia Meets series because I have wanted to focus on how to record claims and analysis. However, since we get so many request about how to cite non-US source, I thought I would stray from the path a bit to show how I would tackle this one.


I looked on the template list in Evidentia, using “U.K.” as a filter, and found a template that seemed¬†like an obvious match. ¬†After conferring with the submitter, however, we determined that this template was created before we really fully understood what we were looking for, so I am going to work from scratch.

Can I use the same template I use for US records?
If this were a US Birth certificate, I would filter on “Vital” records. ¬†The template for Local Vital Records: ¬†Certificate is pretty simple, let’s ¬†see if it will work.

I made a best effort to match up fields in the certificate with fields in the form.  After doing this, I understand the frustration of some users from the UK, since our terms differ.  This is the result:



Is this a respectable citation?  Could another researcher find this record with the information supplied?  Certainly.  Will others respect the academic diligence of this citation?  I assume so, but I leave it to others to comment.

I agree, the template could be made more U.K. friendly.  Having said that, let us move on.


This certificate is chock full of valuable information.

This source claims that…
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
the father of Reginald Charles [Deller] was John Deller, as reported by the mother E. L. Deller on December 18, 1908
the mother of Reginald Charles [Deller] was Emily Lavinia (Sheppard) Deller, as reported by the mother E. L. Deller on December 18, 1908
in November of 1908 John Deller worked as a general laborer

What a benefit that the person reporting the information was recorded! All the information can be classified as Primary, since Emily had first hand knowledge of the birth of her son and the occupation of the father.

It should be noted that the source itself is Derived. Why? This certificate was create Oct 5, 1999 from a record originally recorded December 18, 1908. That introduces the possibility of a transcription error on the part of the person creating the certificate. Believe me, it happens. If this record conflicts with other, this should be noted in the analysis, since it could be a factor in the discrepancy.


I will round out this post with the evidence tags for the claims.

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

I almost missed tagging the implied spousal relationship between John and Emily, as well as the Residence evidence for all three. I could have listed residence as a separate claim since it is explicitly recorded as such in a separate column of the certificate. Evidence is evidence, so take your time.


Rod shared an interesting fact about this birth certificate I thought worth sharing.

“…at this time six-weeks was allowed to register a birth or the individual would/could be fined. To overcome the fine actual birth dates were “amended” to fit within six-week registration period. Registration for my father, and his twin sister, was one-day before six-week period expired. Therefore, possibility does exist that actual birth date was “amended” to suit? Hard to prove but the possibility does exist?”

This type of information is well worth noting in analysis.

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  1. I have used the State Vital Records – Certificate template as my first attempt with Evidencia for Australia – Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificates and Death Certificates. I will have a need for Australian Electoral Rolls, UK including England, Scotland and Wales plus Ireland births, baptisms, census and land records amongst others later on.

  2. Editor- I had forgotten to turn comments on, so a discussion started up on Facebook for this post. I have extracted most of the comments and posted here for continuity. – Ed

    Good information. I use these the BMDs a lot in my research. However, every country’s civil registrations are different, and that can always be a challenge. Good information!
    George G Morgan
    1/26/16 13:10

    If we want someone to be able to find the document the application number will not help them. I would have included the index entry number that was used to order the document. Could you please explain why you would not?
    Helen Smith
    1/26/16 13:39

    I used what I had, which was what was on the document itself. It is a good point that often what we need to record in a citation is NOT on the record itself. I often have to go back to Ancestry or FamilySearch to “re-discover” the record so I can capture what criteria helped me find it. Thanks for pointing that out.
    Evidentia Genealogy Software
    1/26/16 13:42

    Thank you that explains it.
    Helen Smith
    1/26/16 13:48

    They are not called ‘BMDs’. BMD stands for Birth, Marriage and Death. These are Birth, Marriage and Death *certificates*. When citing a certificate, the most important pieces of information are the certificate type, the name(s) and – as Helen says – the GRO (General Register Office) index reference required to order that certificate. This includes the year and quarter of registration, the registration district, (not the sub-district which you have cited) the volume and page number. So, as a professional genealogist here in the UK, I would cite this certificate as ‘Birth certificate of Reginald Charles Deller, GRO Index Ref: 1908 Q4 Fulham, Volume 1a, Page 269.’ I had to look up the GRO index to find that reference – it does not appear on the actual certificate.
    Caroline Gurney
    1/26/16 19:20

    As for the analysis of the information in the certificate, it is not a transcription, which might introduce errors, but an image of the original 1908 entry. One important point you could add to the analysis of the evidence is that the certificate gives a time of birth. That information is only given when it is a multiple birth.
    Caroline Gurney
    1/26/16 19:54

    I wasn’t saying transcription, but derived. In 1999 someone copied information that was recorded in 1908. That is where the error could be introduced (similar to transcription).
    Evidentia Genealogy Software
    1/26/16 20:02

    Rod Deller pointed that out to me (about the twins) and he did find a twin sister.
    Evidentia Genealogy Software
    1/26/16 20:03

    No, it wasn’t copied or derived. It was an image of the original embedded into the certificate. So it is not possible for an error to have been introduced in 1999.
    Caroline Gurney
    1/26/16 20:19

    The point is valid for certificates from earlier periods, however, when information was copied from the original. You can tell you have a certificate of this kind because it will have been typed, not hand written. I have on several occasions seen errors in what was typed compared to the original, even though each of those certificates was certified to be a true copy. The typing was done by people who did not have expertise in reading old handwriting. That is why the system changed to embedding an image of the original.
    Caroline Gurney
    1/26/16 20:24

    Yes, I saw that information at the end of your blog post. It was the first key piece of evidence that struck me when I started reading the certificate.
    Caroline Gurney
    1/26/16 20:25

    “It was an image of the original embedded into the certificate” Well that is slick!
    Evidentia Genealogy Software
    1/27/16 12:40

    Evidence Explained (3rd edition) has an example for English/Welsh certificates, on p. 475 and it’s very similar to the citation Caroline gave. Applying the EE example to the actual certificate you have, the citation would read “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.” Caroline is also correct that the certificate would be regarded as “original” because it is an exact reproduction of the entry from 1908, nothing was copied in 1999, that’s just when the modern version was issued. EE does have several examples for citing UK records, so it would be wonderful if this could be adapted for more UK friendly templates. I say this as someone who is English, living in the US and looking into a potential purchase of Evidentia software but who would be solely evaluating UK records. Glad I stumbled across this posting!
    Emma Compton
    1/27/16 23:33

  3. In my opinion this exercise was well worth doing as it stirred a few individuals into commenting and got the discussion going. I fully agree with vast majority of comments above but add the following.
    In my opinion two source are required for this certificate, one for where the certificate came from and another source for where the certificate reference came from as both places are completely different.
    England & Wales Registrar General. Certified copy of Birth Certificate for Reginald Charles Deller, born 7 November 1908 @ 1150 am, registered 18 December 1908; citing 1908, Fulham registration district, North West Fulham sub-district; Privately owned by Rod Deller from Oct 1999.
    FreeBMD Search, “FreeBMD, Birth Index,” database, freebmd.org.uk (https://www.freebmd.org.uk : accessed October 1999); entry for Deller Reginald Charles, December quarter 1908, Fulham registration district, vol. 1a, p.269.
    Errors in certificates between local registrar and GRO Southport can, and do happen. Remember, every certificate is registered ‚Äėlocally‚Äô, and for this certificate, details copied by hand, then forward to GRO on a quarterly basis at end of each March, June, September and December.
    UK certificates can be obtained from two different sources, GRO in Southport, where the above FreeBMD reference would be used, or at the local registration office, where the above FreeBMD reference would be useless! Local registrars normally require much more precise detail of individual to pinpoint actual certificate, and researchers do not always have that level of information.
    Let the debate continue.

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