Since civil registration became mandatory on July 1st 1837, death certificates had the following information on them. A persons date and place of birth, their full name, male/female, their given age, his or her occupation, profession or rank, the cause of death and duration of their last illness. The name and address of the informant was on there as well as their relationship to the deceased, and where and when the death was registered. In 1969 the deceased usual address was recorded as well.
It should be realised that in the UK statutory registration differed dependent on which country the individual was resident in. Both England and Wales started compulsory registration in July 1837 but in Scotland it was not until the1st of January 1855 that it came into being. Scottish certs are generally more informative and useful for the researcher and can be summarised as follows.
The 1855 certificate was very detailed. Information included.
1. The names of the deceased
2. Date and time of death.
3. Address at time of death and usual residence. if not the same
4. Age and occupation
5. Name of spouse if married
6. Names of any children born. their ages at the time of death and their ages and when they died if prior to the death in 1855
7. Name and occupation of the deceased’s father and if he was
deceased by this date
8. Name and m.s. of the deceased’s mother and if she was deceased by this date
9. Cause of death and name of medical attendant
10. Burial place and name of undertaker
11. Signature of the informant and relationship to the deceased
Changes after 1855
Death certs from 1856 to 1860 contain the same information except that the marital status. single /widow/ widower of the deceased is shown although no name of spouse is recorded. No names of offspring are recorded. From 1861 certs contain the same information as above except that the name of the spouse is now recorded but burial place is not. Ages at death were included as from 1868 and dates of birth as from 1969.
Other sources include Marine Register of deaths ( from 1855 ) where a person was Scottish ; High Commissioner’s Returns of Deaths ( from 1964 ) ; Register of Deaths in Foreign Countries ( 1865 – 1964 );
Air Register of Deaths ( from 1948 ) ; Service Records from 1881 ( not war registers ) ; Consular Returns from 1914. The War Registers exist from 1899 covering the South African ( Boer ) War. WW1 and WW2.
A useful source for those with Internet connection is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
( http://www.cwgc.org.uk/register/register. ). The have a search facility and you can print out the details.