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Thursday, 11 November 2010

Short-lived Registration Districts

When civil registration of births, marriages and deaths began in England and Wales in 1837, the new registration districts were based on Poor Law Unions. These were groupings of parishes that had been created in 1834. The Clerk to the Board of Guardians was the senior officer in a Poor Law Union, and a Superintendent registrar was in charge of each registration district. Registrars of births, deaths and of marriage reported to the superintendent registrar, and  none of the registrars was salaried, but were paid fees for the events they registered, certificates issued, and some other duties.

Every Clerk to the Guardians was offered the post of Superintendent Registrar, in addition to his existing job, and in most cases they accepted, because the two posts could be conveniently combined. Where they declined the offer, another suitable candidate had to be found, and this was not always successful. In November 1837 the Clerk of the Lewes union wrote to the Registrar General

'in consequence of the remuneration for the Superintendent Registrars being inadequate to the trouble given no respectable person can be found to fill the office'
As a result, some unions were soon combined for registration purposes only. but for a short time there were some now unfamiliar names among the list of districts. The districts of Hursley and Sedgefield existed briefly in the first quarter (September 1837) before disappearing forever, followed by Buntingford, Cerne, Chailey, High Peak and West Firle before the end of the year. Dulverton, Lanchester and Whitchurch also vanished, but were re-constituted as registration districts some years later. Chailey and West Firle were joined to Lewes, to which was also added Newhaven in 1838. So the Lewes clerk had good reason to comment on the difficulty of filling the posts in his area.

Source: HO39/4 Home Office correspondence Registrar General's Office 1837

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