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Ilkeston Birth Registrations ; an introduction

Civil Registration of births, marriages and deaths started on 1 July 1837 in England and Wales. This was the result of the 1836 Marriage Act and the 1836 Births and Deaths Registration Act.


Appointed the first Registrar General for England and Wales, Thomas Henry Lister had the responsibility to set up this new system of civil registration.
The Bucks Herald (June 1837) voiced its Conservative disapproval of him and of the new system …

“He is the author of several ‘Fashionable Novels’, Granby, Arlington, &c., and these are his grounds for qualification as Registrar-General.
“Mr. T.H. Lister has been sending forth circulars innumerable to the Superintendent Registrars — each succeeding Copy of Instructions mystifying and altering the previous Listerian Code.
“The Ink and the Ink Bottles, and a Mackintosh bag to hold the books, have been most carefully and with precise instructions despatched to each District Registrar, and only the pens have been omitted — a trifling error certainly, if the Books are meant to write in, the Bottles to be filled, and the Ink to be used.
“As regards the Births and Deaths, as the Registration of them is not compulsory, we do not see how a more accurate account of them can be kept then heretofore. This sickening specimen of Liberal Legislation, which we submit to our readers as a sample of  the most unadulterated  and wicked humbug that ever fell under public notice and common contempt”


Many births were not recorded during the early years of civil registration. Parents were not required to give information to the Registrar unless requested to do so.
There were no fines or penalties for parents who did not tell the Registrar about a birth. Many were ignorant of the new law or its purpose, while many thought that a baptism was a legal alternative.
Consequently these early records may have many gaps.
“It is estimated that in some parts of England (particularly Surrey, Sussex, Essex, Shropshire and Middlesex), up to 15 per cent of births were not registered between 1837 and 1875”. (Mark D. Herber … Ancestral Trails)
For example … on the 1841 census my Johnson ancestors can be found living in South Street, Ilkeston, and among them is Ruth Johnson, listed as aged 6 months. Subsequent censuses confirm that she was born in Ilkeston, about 1840/41 and that her parents were James and Jane Johnson. However I have never been able to find either her birth registration or her baptism !!

In an effort to reduce the deficiencies in the registration system another Births and Deaths Registration Act was introduced in 1874. Now it was the responsibility of the parents to report a birth within 42 days or be liable to a significant fine. (You may spot a flaw in this procedure by which errant parents might avoid a fine).

And what of illegitimate children ?
“Between 1837 and 1875, if the mother informed the registrar of an illegitimate child’s birth and also stated the father’s name, the registrar could record him as the father. From 1875 a man could only be named as the father of an illegitimate child on the birth certificate if he consented and was also present when the birth was registered”. (ibid)


In the Basford Union District No 2 — that is, the Ilkeston District, (consisting of  Ilkeston, Heanor, Shipley, Cossall and Trowell) — George Blake Norman was appointed as Registrar of Births and Deaths, while Moses Mason was appointed as Registrar for Marriages. These appointments were sanctioned in June 1837, in time for the introduction of registration on July 1st.

It was the task of  ‘Registrar Norman’ to find out about a birth and record it. Of course, his position as ‘Surgeon’ in the town allowed him better access to such information than most of the other inhabitants.

This section includes all the births recorded by the Ilkeston District registrar from 1837 onwards.
Most of them occurred in Ilkeston, many of them in Shipley, Marlpool or Heanor,  and a few in Cossall, Trowell and occasionally Langley.
I have grouped them by year, and have listed each in alphabetical order. The year refers to that of the birth of the child, not the year in which the birth was registered, although the two were usually — but not always — the same.
The notes are mine.
Compiling these lists is a very slow and incomplete process — as you can see by the gaps in the notes. The majority of these relate to Heanor families, of which I am less familiar than those of Ilkeston.
Please feel free to help fill in the gaps …. or tell me if you spot an error


We start with 1837 Births … which is relatively easy, as it is only half a year !! 


1838   1839  1840  1841  1842  1843  1844  1845  1846  1847  1848  1849  1850  1851  1852  1853  1854  1855  1856