England and Wales free search sites

Whilst records on Ancestry, My Heritage, etc are good there are some updated England and Wales Government sites that provide better indices for free (Scotland’s is at https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/).

Wills in England and Wales are publicly available documents from the time probate is granted to ensure beneficiaries can become aware of the will and to ensure that assets are distributed in accordance with it. Wills from 1858 to the present time (about 14 days after probate is granted) plus soldiers’ wills can be searched and ordered on line at Find a will | GOV.UK. The creation of a free account is required and probate (which includes the will if there is one) can be ordered for £1.50 each. They are subsequently delivered to your account page and can be downloaded from there.

Births & Deaths
The official indices of the General Registry Office can be searched free on line at https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/Login.asp; again a free account has to be set up. They have births from 1837 to 1934 and 1984 to 2019. Unlike other indices their 19th and 20th century entries show the mother’s maiden name. You can, of course, then order certificates or PDFs of earlier records at the click of a button. Lets you search 2 years either side just using surname and mother’s maiden name which is useful.

The death index is from 1837 to 1957 and 1984 to 2019. It contains ages at death for 19th and 20th century deaths.

For marriages you still need FreeBMD at FreeBMD - Search.

Hope that helps.


Thanks for the great source. It is very helpful.

Yours in genealogy,
Rich W

Thanks for that Charlie. Useful information for me and others.