The England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 lists the birth of my 2nd great grandmother:

Name    Elizabeth Slight
Registration Year   1853
Registration Quarter    Apr-May-Jun
Registration district   South Stoneham
Parishes for this Registration District South Stoneham
Inferred County Hampshire
Volume  2c
Page    35

However, the GRO Online Index does not seem to include her.

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Before I report it to the GRO, using the link at the bottom of the picture, can anyone else find her?

  • 2
    It is interesting how the recent availability of having two indexes to the same records has highlighted just how many errors the indexes contain (on both versions).
    – AntonyM
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 12:55

2 Answers 2


Give Hight a try instead of Slight! This isn't the first time I've seen H mistaken for Sl.

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  • I should have thought of that - her father's family were indexed as High in the 1841 Census at Haddington.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 13:15

My advice to anyone searching the GRO indexes is to search all available sites and compare them. Note the differences in page numbers.


Name: WILLS, ELLEN  MAUD  mother's maiden name:   -       
GRO Reference: 1876  S Quarter in KINGSBRIDGE  Volume 05B  Page 208  Occasional Copy: A 


Surname   First name(s)       District    Vol     Page 
 Births Sep 1876   (>99%)
WILLS  Ellen Maud      Kingsbridge     5b 208a    


Name:     Ellen Maud Wills
Registration Year:    1876
Registration Quarter:     Jul-Aug-Sep
Registration district:    Kingsbridge
Inferred County:  Devon
Volume:   5b
Page:     8908a

FreeBMD and Ancestry both give us access to the images of the printed GRO index. FreeBMD is double-keyed by two transcribers; we don't know how Ancestry has generated their index. Here are snips of the two pages.


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Even though sites have "the same" index, there can be variations between sites in any part of the data. Always compare when you can.

Update: @TomH reminds me that Ancestry's data comes from FreeBMD. Here is his comment:

Actually the Ancestry index for records prior to 1915 is the FreeBMD index (look at the title of the record set) but it's an old snapshot so doesn't have more recent corrections.

It is true that Ancestry used to have FreeBMD referenced in the title of the database, but in the USA, they seem to have deprecated those databases, and republished the data without referencing FreeBMD in the title. The information I quoted is from dbid=8912, now titled England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915. However, you can tell this is a snapshot of FreeBMD by looking at the source information:

Source Information

FreeBMD. England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.

Original data: General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. London, England: General Register Office. © Crown copyright. Published by permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Office for National Statistics. You must not copy on, transfer or reproduce records without the prior permission of ONS. Database Copyright © 1998-2003 Graham Hart, Ben Laurie, Camilla von Massenbach and David Mayall.

His main point is absolutely correct -- whenever Ancestry incorporates an index from another website, such as FreeBMD, Find a Grave, or any index marked Web: in the Card Catalog, it is only a snapshot of that site's index at a single moment in time. According to Crista Cowan, anything marked Web: in the card catalog is not updated by Ancestry, so for the most recent version of the data, go directly to the original site and re-run the search there for the most current version of the data. Where images are also provided, the image quality for different sites can vary as well.

  • 2
    Actually the Ancestry index for records prior to 1916 is the FreeBMD index (just look at the title of the record set) but it's an old snapshot so doesn't have more recent corrections.
    – TomH
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 18:16
  • 1
    Yes, thanks for reminding me. I've edited the answer to incorporate your comment.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 18:31

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