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Family History

The Registration Service has custody of registers that recorded births, deaths and marriages occurring in Cornwall since July 1837 when civil registration was introduced.

The service had eleven Registration Districts, but from 1st May 2007, the Districts were abolished and one District was created for the whole county. The Service also holds registers for both civil marriages and non-conformist chapels, Church of England, meeting houses, Jewish marriages and other religious buildings where marriages have taken place. Within each district the parishes are usually divided into a number of sub-districts.  These are explained below.

If you want to compile a family tree you can do so by making an application to our Certificate Applications office.

The records we hold are concerned with individual events and not with pedigrees.  It may therefore be necessary to make a series of searches to trace the lines of descent back to 1837.  For example, if you wish to trace the record of your father's birth, but do not know when he was born, it may be necessary first to search for the record of your parents' marriage (working backwards from the date of birth of the eldest child in your family).  A certificate of the marriage should give your father's age and the name of his father, and so provide a starting point for tracing and identifying the record of his birth.  A certificate of that birth will give the names of his parents including the mother's maiden surname, and the process may be repeated for the preceding generation.

Information to provide in your application

  • Full name of the person(s) included in the registration
  • Parent's names if known (for birth and marriage certificates)
  • Date of the event (Date, month and year)
  • Location of the event (Town, village, district)
  • Any other relevant information that may help us to locate the certificate

The Superintendent Registrar will make a search two years each side of the date you have supplied even if your information is not complete, but we do not have the resources to make wider searches.

If the entry is traced, the information can only be supplied in the form of a certificate at a cost of £11 per certificate.  If the entry is not found, a full refund is made.

Apply and pay online

To use this service you will need to know the relevant details for the form.  If you do not have all the details, then you will need to apply by post.

By Post

Please write to us with the information above, and include a cheque or Postal order and send to:

Certificate Applications (Registration)
PO Box 94

National Index

The General Register Office (GRO) holds a national, central register of birth, deaths and marriages dating back to 1837.

NOTE:  Reference numbers issued by the General Register Office are different from the local authority numbers and do not match up with the local register entries.  However, they do confirm that the event occurred in the particular registration district, and the year/quarter, although the sub-district is not indicated.  It is very helpful for marriages in particular therefore to have a connection to a place, parish or religious denomination.

Sources of Records before 1 July 1837

Before 1st July 1837, the principal means of recording births (or baptisms), marriages and deaths (or burials) were parish registers kept by clergymen of the Church of England.  The best way to trace them is to get in touch with the team at Kresen Kernow, Little Vauxhall, Redruth.  The new purpose built archive facility also holds a number of other records useful in researching family history, including Methodist registers of baptisms, marriages and burials.

Cornwall Family History Society also has a wide range of indexes, census records and other material as well as a comprehensive store of local and background information.

All local authorities hold records for their administrative area.  if you require a certificate for a birth, death or marriage which occurred outside Cornwall, you will need to contact the register office for that area, as we only hold records for Cornwall.

We hope that you have much success and enjoyment in your research and we look forward to helping you to achieve your aims.