I am a big fan of FreeBMD because there is a wealth of information indexed and I am able to see scans of the records and double check the details myself.

Beyond 1998 Ancestry comes up with an index that even includes place and full date but nothing to cross check details with. Where is Ancestry getting it from, and can I just search it or will I need another subscription?

2 Answers 2


There is no UK death index as England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are administered separately.

For the England and Wales birth and death index (current through 2021 as of writing), search the General Register Office website.

Indexes for Scotland are available at ScotlandsPeople.

To my knowledge, Northern Ireland does not have any recent birth or death indexes available online.

The indexes you have found on Ancestry (England and Wales, Death Index, 1989-2022 and Scotland and Northern Ireland, Death Index, 1989-2022) sources its information from GreyPower Deceased Data (Wilmington Millennium), which is a collection of data which was originally compiled from funeral directors' records and obituary notices. It was not supplied by the GRO, so use with caution. I have found many errors especially with dates in this dataset.

  • 1
    thanks for the reminder about the GRO website. I needed some info that wasn't in the GreyPower data but was on the GRO site. The GreyPower data is not complete - I can't comment on its accuracy. The GRO site mentions a delay of 2y so maybe it will be extended each year.
    – AdrianB38
    Feb 27 at 19:54

Where is Ancestry getting it from, and can I just search it or will I need another subscription?

What is this and where is it from?

To find out where Ancestry is getting the data from for any collection on Ancestry, go to the page for that specific collection, and scroll down to look underneath the search form.

Look for Source Information, which will give you some data you can use to build a citation for that database, and some information about where the original data was held.

Underneath that, look for the About the Database information, which tells you more about what you can learn from the database. Big 'umbrella' databases which gather information from many small record sets can have a supplementary page which lists the individual record sets.

You do not need a subscription to view the Source Information or About the Database information for Ancestry collections.

Some collections/databases on Ancestry have scanty information about where the information comes from. If the records come from an archive, try looking on the archive's own website to get more information about the records. If an index comes from a commercial company, look for information about the company and look for reviews of the data in genealogical publications, society newsletters, online forums, sites like Genealogy Stack Exchange, etc.

Do I need a subscription to view the database?

See Free Index Collections to get a list of indexes that don't require a subscription.

I tested one of the two indexes in the previous answer using an old account which has reverted to Registered User (i.e. it has no subscription) and the results are partially masked.

I would expect that the two indexes referenced in the previous answer would be included in a sub for AncestryUK. I can see the results with no redactions using my US World Explorer Membership.

If you don't have a current subscription, you could try asking your local Family History Society, your local library, or your local Family History Centre (LDS church) to see if you can get access, before deciding if you want to get a subscription.

I always advise people to sign up for any free newsletters or promotional emails so they can get news about free access periods. To save time, make a list of records you'd like to see in advance, so when you do get access, you can work efficiently.

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