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Family history

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​How do I trace my family tree?

The best way to start is to find out what information is available to you from your own family. Most families will have kept copies of old birth, death and marriage certificates. There are other documents that may be useful. These include grave papers, adoption papers, old school reports, family photographs and any old newspaper cuttings. You will certainly find it informative if you talk to older family members who can tell you about family members who are no longer alive. Be sure to record the information you obtain and try and establish any relevant dates.

Apply for a copy of a birth, death or marriage certificate

More information on my family

War dead at cemeteries around the borough

You can search for people who lost their lives during the First and Second World Wars and are buried within the borough of Rochdale or those in war graves across the Commonwealth.

Local Register Office

All Register Offices hold records of births, deaths and marriages from 1837 for their own area. If you wish to purchase a copy certificate, you will need to state the name, the approximate date and place of the event. Most Register Offices will search a maximum of 5 years.

If you wish to undertake a wider search of the indexes, you can book a general search with a Register Office. For a fee of £18 you can spend up to 6 hours searching the Register Office Indexes. If you needed any certificates to be issued, you would pay an additional fee for each certificate.

Duplicate certificates can be purchased for £10 each. If you are paying for your completed application request by credit or debit card, a £1 administration charge is made for all transactions below £10. 

The Registrars section only has information on people who died, were born, or got married or joined in civil partnership in Rochdale. For births, deaths and marriages and civil partnerships that took place in another part of the country or outside the country you would need to contact another Register Office in another area, or the embassy or high commission of that country.

Lancashire Family History Society

Rochdale Register office is working in partnership with Lancashire Family History Society to make all indexes records for birth, marriages and deaths available on the Internet.

View Rochdale birth, marriage and death indexes on the Lancashire BMD website

Census Records

In 1801 the government introduced a national census of the population of this co​untry. This has been carried out every 10 years since. This information gives details of where people lived and worked and reflected social trends of the time.

Many of the older census records for Rochdale can be viewed at the Local Studies section of Rochdale Library. They are located in the Arts and Heritage Centre, The Esplanade, Rochdale.

The government only makes census records available after 100 years. The most recent census to be released is the 1911 Census for England and Wales

Birth, death and marriage records

Heywood - 1837 to present day. Some General Register Office indexes may have Heywood shown as district but the birth was in Radcliffe area, these records are with Bury Council

Littleborough - 1837 to present day.

Middleton - 1837-1933; 1974 to present. 1933-1974 records are held by Oldham Council

Milnrow - 1837 to present day Rochdale, 1837 to present day Whitworth, 1837-1974. After this date, they are at Hyndburn and Rossendale Register Office.

Burial records

Statuto​​ry burial records for Dearnley cemetery, Heywood cemetery, Middleton old cemetery, Middleton cemetery and crematorium and Rochdale cemetery​​​​​​​ are ​​held at the cemetery office in Rochdale. For more information on locating a grave and the costs involved​ see the ​burial records​.​​

​Copy certificates

The Registration Service has custody of registers that record births, deaths and marriages occurring in Rochdale since July 1837 when civil registration was introduced in this country.

A certified copy of records of births, deaths or marriages occurring within Rochdale for which we hold the record, can be obtained from the Register Office.

For an event which happened elsewhere, contact the Register Office for the district where the event occurred.

When applying for a certificate the following information will be required for us to find the correct entry:


  • Date and place of birth.
  • Full name of child.
  • Mother’s full name and maiden name, father’s full name.


  • Date and place of death.
  • Full name of the deceased and your relationship.
  • Occupation.
  • Marital status.


  • Date and place of marriage.
  • Full names of both bride and groom at the time of the marriage.
  • The ages of the bride and bridegroom.

Related pages


01706 924784

Phone: Monday-Friday 9am-4.45pm.
Fax: 0844 963 2314

Rochdale Register Office
Town Hall
Vicars Gate
Rochdale OL16 1AB

Opening hours

Monday - Friday: 9am - 4.15pm
(On the last Tuesday of each month, the office opens at 10.30am)
Saturday and Sunday: ceremonies only

Birth registration, death registration and giving notice of marriage - by prior appointment only