Each record includes a transcript. The amount of information listed varies, but the New South Wales Deaths 1788-1945 may include the following information:
The deceased’s first name(s) and last name
Their birth year (where known)
The year of death
Their age at death
Their father’s first name(s)
Their mother’s first name(s)
The registration district and state
The New South Wales Deaths 1788-1945 is a comprehensive index to the death certificates from three distinct separate sets of records: the NSW Pioneers Index – Pioneer series dating between 1788 and 1889; the NSW Federation Index covering 1889 to 1918; and the NSW Between the Wars Index, spanning 1919 to 1945.
Although New South Wales is the oldest Australian state, it was not the earliest to establish civil registration. From the colony’s foundation in 1788 until as late as 1856, the only records of births, deaths and marriages in New South Wales were by established churches.
While the Registry holds transcriptions of these early records – today at State Archives NSW – many of them contain poor spelling and inaccuracies. The diligence of the various ministers, missionaries and other administrators varied widely. In the early years in particular, only the Church of England was recognised, meaning that some people of other denominations and faiths are missing from these registers.
In 1856, compulsory civil registration began in New South Wales. A Registrar General was appointed to divide the colony into districts for administrative purposes. District registrars were appointed and made responsible for the registration of all births, deaths and marriages in their region. These registrars would enter details of every life event into bound registers, assigning each a unique number. Each registration was copied onto a loose sheet which would then be forwarded to the Sydney Registry at the end of each quarter.
When a person died in New South Wales, it was the responsibility of the owner of the house in which the death occurred to notify the district registrar of details of the death so it could be officially registered. In the early years of civil registration, most births, deaths and marriages were registered on the basis of verbal advice from the informant. It was only after World War One in 1918 that the use of notification forms became widespread.
Note that in the early 19th century the colony of New South Wales covered much of the Australian mainland, including settlements that would later separate and become colonies (and eventually states) in their own right such as, for example, South Australia did in 1836, Victoria in 1851, and Queensland in 1859.
In Australia, each state administers its own birth, death and marriage certificates and the process of ordering certificates, as well as the level of detail they may contain, varies widely. In New South Wales, NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages is responsible for managing this process.
For information about certified copies of certificates issued by the NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages please refer to its website at www.bdm.nsw.gov.au
Ordering a death certificate involves making a formal application, which can be done online on the NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages website listed above, or via post. Those who live in New South Wales also have the option of lodging an application in person at a Registry office, Service NSW service centre, Government Access Centre, Fair Trading Centre or local courthouse. When ordering a family history certificate online, you need to provide not only your personal details but also the registration number of the certificate you want to order. This information is provided in the New South Wales Deaths 1788-1945 records.
To order a death certificate on the NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages website, you have two options. You can search online yourself for the registration you are after and, once you find it, purchase the certificate directly. Alternatively, you can download and complete an online application form for the family history certificate to be sent to you.
It is important to keep in mind that only death certificates dating back over 30 years can be accessed by any member of the public. Death certificates that are less than 30 years old are generally only available to the next of kin of the deceased person in question, unless their permission can be proven.
© NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages, www.bdm.nsw.gov.au