Why more from Scotland than England?

I’m aware my “on this day” posts feature far more Scottish ancestors than English ones. There are two reasons for this.

Firstly, three of my grandparents were Scottish with only one from England, which means Scottish ancestors are bound to outnumber English ones in a roughly 75/25 split. As many of my Scottish ancestors went in for very large families it may well be more like an 80/20 split.

But another reason is that I don’t know the exact date of the birth, marriage or death for quite a lot of the Yorkshire people on my family tree due to being a bit of a scrooge when it comes to buying English certificates.

Scottish birth, marriage and death are available online via ScotlandsPeople: you have to pay to download the actual certificate once you’ve picked it out from the index, but it works out at less than £2 per certificate. For English ones, you have to send off to the GRO (General Register Office) – you can make the request online but then the GRO sends you a certified copy of the certificate via a document delivery service. Each certificate costs £9.25. So it’s cumbersome and expensive to get hold of English certificates, but easy and a great deal cheaper to get Scottish ones.

The GRO says “Current legislation in England and Wales does not permit the register entries (certificate information) to be made available online”. Scotland’s legislation obviously does and has no doubt made providing such information online a nice little government source of income. It’s a shame England and Wales doesn’t follow suit, although no doubt the cost of setting up such a system – which would involve taking a digital copy of every certificate issued since 1837 – is a major reason why it hasn’t happened.

I’m lucky, though, in that West Yorkshire church records have been digitised and are available via Ancestry, so an Ancestry subscription is well worth the money for me. North and South Yorkshire are apparently also being digitised and will be made available via FindMyPast. Once that happens I may find out more about my Yorkshire ancestors for whom I don’t yet have a lot of detail.

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2 responses to “Why more from Scotland than England?

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