Deciphering Cryptography for Family Historians

Marriage indexes

Birmingham marriage page range tables

Do you often get puzzled, nay perplexed by family history research? If only it were as simple as when shown on the television and wouldn’t we all love a PA answering to our every whim for warming lattes and restorative brioche butties. You agonise, you fret, you convulse over whether great aunt June wasn’t really a member of the KGB because you can’t find any reference to her breathing on the GRO (General Register Office) index and what do all of these esoteric codes and hieroglyphics relating to a marriage in eighteen o’ dreadful actually mean. Well, discombobulate no longer, people of the genealogical fraternity because assistance is at hand, propulsive yet sophisticated like Bond himself in a vintage Aston Martin DB5.

Let me introduce you to the wonders of the GRO Birmingham Marriage page range tables complied by P.L. Loach with assistance from David Fall where credited –

  •  Marriages registered in the Aston Registration District,1837 – 1924.
  • Marriages registered in the Birmingham Registration District, 1837 – 1924.
  • Marriages registered in the Birmingham North Registration District, 1924 – 1932.
  • Marriages registered in the Birmingham South Registration District, 1924 – 1932.
  • Marriages registered in the Kings Norton Registration District, 1837 – 1924.
  • Marriages registered in the West Bromwich Registration District, 1837 – 1932 (includes some north west Birmingham suburbs).

Once you have located the entry for the marriage you seek via the GRO index (which is accessible to view free of charge in Archives & Collections Service via Ancestry) and as long as the event occurred in the period covered by the marriage page range tables as outlined above, you should in theory be able to highlight which church the service took place at, although there are some noticeable exceptions which are identified when inspecting the tables. The tables are primarily arranged in yearly order and then by quarter –  March, June, September and December. The final part of the puzzle you require is the page number from the GRO citation found on Ancestry and all being well, the magical algorithms of the page tables will calculate their way to a revelation of which church the service took place in. You are then at liberty to explore other related resources held in our collections which may lead you to a copy of the parish entry for the marriage.

Quick ReferenceThe page range tables are available to view in the Heritage Research Area’s  Quick Reference section located on Level 4 of the Library of Birmingham at any point during the course of our full service hours of 11 am  – 7 pm Monday & Tuesday and 11 am  – 5 pm Wednesday to Saturday.


Happy espionage every one!

Paul Taylor
Archives & Collections Coordinator


The following items have been added to the various bookstock collections housed in Archives & Collections  –


1. Beauchamp, Perry.
The Story Behind A Statue – William Perry, The Tipton Slasher.
L 78.1 PER

2. Birmingham City Council.
Birmingham Smithfield : The Visioning Document.
(March 2015).
LP 87.1 Box 3

3. Birmingham City Council.
Snow Hill Masterplan.
(February 2015).
LP 87.1 Box 3

4. Blennerhassett, Leslie E.
Monyhull Colony, 1908. A brief account of the ethos, aims and achievements of a sheltered community.
LP 46.13 BLE

5. Buro Happold.
Engineering The Library of Birmingham.
LP 53.31 BUR

6. Byk, Adam.
The Ukrainian Community in Post – Second World War Birmingham.
LP 21.86 BYK

7. Clawley, Alan.
Library Story : A History of Birmingham Central Library.
L 53.31 CLA

8. Flynn, Brendan.
RBSA : A Place for Art. The story of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists.
LF 54.62 FLY

9. Frearson, John.
John Frearson of Manchester and Birmingham, the forgotten socialist, c.1811 – 1888.
LP 78.1 FRE

10. Green, Andy.
These Notes Are Out of Order.
L 52.21 GRE

11. Keogh, David.
The Accidental Gangster : The Little Known but true story of the Kray twins invasion of Birmingham.

12. Loach, P.L.
Marriages in Birmingham North Registration District, 1924 – 1932. G.R.O. Page Range Table.
HRA Quick Reference

13. Loach, P.L.
Marriages in Birmingham South Registration District, 1924 – 1932. G.R.O. Page Range Table.
HRA Quick Reference

14. Loach, P.L.
Marriages in Kings Norton Registration District, 1837 – 1924. G.R.O. Page Range Table.
HRA Quick Reference

15. Loach, P.L.
Marriages in West Bromwich Registration District, 1837 – 1932. G.R.O. Page Range Table.
HRA Quick Reference

16. Lound, Andrew P.B.
Lunatick Astronomy : The Astronomical Activities of the Lunar Society.
(2015 edition).
L 50.6 LOU

17. Library of Birmingham Design Brief.
LF 53.31 MEC

18. Mecanoo Architecten – Francine Houben. People, Place, Purpose.
Pages 197 – 246 focusing on the Library of Birmingham.
L 56.9 MEC

19. Mecanno Architecten.
The People’s Palace : The Library of Birmingham.
L 53.31 MEC

20. Melling, James.
Worcester & Birmingham Canal : The Digging Years, July 1791 – June 1792.
LF 47.23 MEL

21. Munro, Andy.
Going For A Balti : The Story of Birmingham’s Signature Dish.

22. Price, Stephen & Demidowicz, George.
The Saracen’s Head & Old Grammar School, King’s Norton. Synthesis of the historical & architectural development.
LF 56.1 SAR

23. Pritchard, Russ A., Jr. & Huey, C.A.
The English Connection : Arms, Material and Support Furnished to the Confederate States of America by Great Britain.
LF 65.52 PRI

24. Richards, Steve.
The Luftwaffe over Brum. Birmingham’s Blitz from a military perspective.

25. Roberts, Stephen.
Joseph Chamberlain’s Highbury : A Very Public Private House.
L 58.2 ROB

26. Roberts, Stephen.
Now Mr Editor! Letters to the Newspapers of nineteenth century Birmingham.
BCOL 08.09 ROB

27. Stunt, Gerald.
Perry Hall Yesterdays.
L 93.2 STU

28. The Big Hoot Trail Map, 20 July – 27 September 2015.
LP 83.3 Box 3

29. Ward, Roger.
The Chamberlains : Joseph, Austen and Neville, 1836 – 1940.
BCOL  77.2 CHA

30. Watts, Andrew & Tyler, Emma (Ed.).
Fortunes of War : The West Midlands at the Time of Waterloo.
L 75.4 WAT


1. Fevyer, W.H.
The Distinguished Medal List, 1939 – 1946.
A 355.134 FEV

2. Purves, Alec. A.
The Medals, Decorations & Orders of World War II.
355.134 PUR Military Genealogy

3. Stubbs, Pam.
Unsung Heroes of the British Army : The Far East Prisoners of War held in Java, 1945 – 1945.
940.547243 STU. Military Genealogy


1. Fevyer, W.H.
The Distinguished Medal List, 1939 – 1946.

1. Greenwood, John Ormerod.
Quaker Encounters. Vols. 1 – 3. 1975, 1977, 1978.
289.6 GRE

2. Milligan, Edward, H.
Biographical Dictionary of British Quakers in Commerce and Industry, 1775 – 1920.
289.6 MIL

3. Padfield, Tim.
Copyright for Archivists and Records Managers. Fifth Edition.
346.410482. Behind Wolfson Centre Counter, Level 4.

4. Stevens, Mark.
Life in the Victorian Asylum : The World of Nineteenth Century Mental Health Care.

5. Wolfson Foundation.
The Wolfson Foundation : Sixty Years of Philanthropy.


3 responses to “Deciphering Cryptography for Family Historians

  1. barbara gammon

    is there anyway I can gather information without leaving my county.? cornwall.

    • Thank you for your enquiry. If you have an enquiry about records relating to Birmingham, you can email and a member of our team will get back to you. If you are unable to visit Birmingham, some family history resources are available on the Find My Past website which you can access at your local library. Alternatively, you can contact an independent researcher. Details of local researchers can be found in family history magazines or via organisations such as the Association of Professional Genealogists (, the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives ( or the Birmingham and Midland Society for Genealogy and Heraldry ( I hope this is of help.

  2. Glad to see these wonderful works by Mr Loach getting the promotion they deserve! They can save hours of guesswork about which church the marital union took place in – especially when you discover they had a civil marriage anyway so there was no ecclesiastical involvement at all. Or no-one had told you your great-grandmother had converted to Catholicism despite a non-conformist upbringing so you’ve wasted days searching through every possible Anglican church to no avail.

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