Family history research

Family history tree

The first step in researching your family history is to speak to your relatives, putting together names, ages, addresses and occupations to prepare a preliminary family tree.

This should help sort out dates when people were born, married or died. Some families kept records in family bibles or others may have certificates or newspaper cuttings.

To confirm your research you should obtain certified copies of register entries.

Birth certificate

A birth certificate will show:

  • The child’s name
  • Date and place of birth
  • Name and surname of father
  • Name, surname and maiden name of mother
  • Father’s occupation
  • Parent name, including the mother’s maiden surname if married

Marriage certificate

You can then try to trace the marriage certificate of the parents, which will show:

  • Where they lived at the time of their marriage
  • Their full names
  • Their ages
  • Their occupations
  • The names and occupations of both of their fathers.

Death certificate

A death certificate will show:

  • Name of the deceased
  • The place of death
  • Age at death
  • Cause of death
  • Occupation
  • Name and address of the person registering
  • Date of registration

Current records (from 1969) show the maiden surnames of married women. 

Request copies of certificates

Find records

Registers are kept in the Register Office for each area, visit Gov.UK for a list of designated Register Offices in England and Wales. 

If you are unsure of an exact date Newport Register Office will search one year either side of a given date free of charge.

Find family history records at Newport Libraries 


If the event took place within Newport district you can apply for certificates by post, in person or email [email protected]

For a fee of £3 we will post the certificates by first-class signed for delivery. 

Read about search and certificate fees.

If applying for a birth certificate you should provide:

  • Name at birth
  • Date of birth
  • Parents' name in full including mother’s maiden name
  • Where the birth took place

If applying for a death certificate you should provide: 

  • Name of deceased
  • Date of death
  • Place of death
  • And any other relevant information for us to trace the entry

If applying for a marriage certificate you should provide:

  • Name of groom
  • Name of bride
  • Date of marriage
  • Place of marriage – i.e. church or registered building
  • Fathers’ names if possible to confirm correct entry

If you don't know where the event took place try the General Register Office (GRO) which holds birth, adoption, marriage, civil partnership and death records, some dating back to 1837. 

Other information

Explore family history resources at Newport Libraries to ask about family history research resources. 

Gwent Family History Society is useful if you are searching in the Gwent and Monmouthshire area.

Gwent Archives may also have records of interest.

Census reports

Census reports give details of people living at a household at the time of the census.

The latest published census reports are for 1911 and are available on the 1911 Census website.

For events that have taken place in Scotland or Northern Ireland contact the Scotland General Register Office or the Northern Ireland General Register Office.  

Find My Past: birth, marriage and death indexes from 1837

Free BMD: a volunteer project, indexes start from 1837

Ancestry UK: an archive of records from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, including the GRO Indexes

The Lincoln Archives   

The GENUKI website: genealogical information for the UK and Ireland

The Family History UK website: links to other sites plus information

The Family Search website: site of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as the Mormons, contains genealogical information

Events before 1837

The main sources of information before civil registration in 1837 are parish registers and records of other faiths, try these links:

The Family Records website 

The Society of Genealogists