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Madden Records - Australia - Civil Registration - New South Wales


New South Wales is the oldest established Australian colony, established in 1788. Tasmania became a separate colony in 1825 followed by South Australia [1836], Victoria [1851], Queensland [1859] and Western Australia [1887]. In 1901 the six colonies became a Federation of States of the Commonwealth of Australia. Two additional Territories were created in 1911: the Australian Capital Territory & the Northern Territory.

Registration of births, marriages and deaths became compulsory in New South Wales from 1 March 1856. A central NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages was established in Sydney as well as local Registries around the State.

Before civil registration began in 1856 records of births, deaths and marriages were kept by the churches where the christenings, burials and marriages took place. Most of this information was collected by the Registry after civil registration was introduced and hand-written into large bound volumes. However, not all the detail was copied from the early church records to the civil record, so the information on the original parish register, especially Catholic records, may include additional information. Various government Acts between 1825 and 1840 also required the clergy to send in summary information from parish registers to the Registrar of the Supreme Court that was later transferred to the new Registry from 1856.

Civil records before 1856 are therefore often incomplete or may be missing altogether. Even after the introduction of compulsory registiatration, parents had 6 months to register and if they were unable to get to a registry office, because of distance or isolation, registration was simply forgotten.

In 1982 microfiche copies of indexes to pre 1900 civil registration and church records held by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages were released. Since then, further indexes have been released in fiche, CD and on-line.

Currently the NSW BDM indexes show limited information about birth, death and marriage records in the following years:

- Births 1788 to 1907
- Marriages 1788 to 1957
- Deaths 1788 to 1977

The indexes are more detailed than their English equivalent. The given names of both parents are included for births and deaths. The full spouse name is given for marriages. The location of the registration is stated, although it is not necessarily the location of the birth but rather the district where the birth was registered. The index provides a registration number which can be used to order either transcripts [from Transcript Agents] or copies of the original certificate through the Registry. Copies of the original pre-1856 records can be viewed on microfilm at State Records NSW.