The Sole Society, a Family History Society researching Sole, Saul, Sewell, Solley and similar names

The National Burial Index

for England and Wales

By Tim Soles

This article was originally published in the April 2001 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society.

 Information from the Federation of Family History Societies

What is it?

The NBI is an index of burials taken from parish, non-conformist, Roman Catholic and cemetery registers. It includes entries from England and Wales dating from the 16th century to modern times, although to start with not all locations and dates will be covered. The first edition, with more than 5.3 million names, will be published on CDROM in the early part of 2001. It is hoped to publish a cumulative NBI every three years or so.

What does it Contain?

Each entry will present the following information (if available in the original source):

Forename(s) and surname of the deceased

Date of burial


Parish or cemetery where the event was recorded

The county of the parish or cemetery (pre-1974 list of counties)

The society or group which transcribed the record

Clearly the NBI does not contain full transcriptions of the burial records - it is simply an abbreviated finding-aid based on records that were sometimes difficult to read.

What are the Features?

Using the program supplied on the CDROM, the searcher can interrogate the database by a number of methods: a standard surname and forename synonym 'dictionary', a list of uniquely-occurring surname spelling variants, or by using 'wildcards'. The search can be 'refined' by specifying date ranges or locations. A number of interesting features include a map to illustrate the distribution of names found.

How do I obtain a copy of the NBI?

Details of the National Burial Index are on the Federation website at:

Further information can be obtained from Terry Walsh, Sales Manager for FFHS Publications Ltd, email Unit 16 Chesham Industrial Centre, Oram Street, Bury, Lancashire BL9 6EN. Phone 0161 797 3843, fax 0161 797 3846

It is anticipated that access to the NBI will be available eventually through FH Societies, large libraries, genealogical institutions and Family History Centres.

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