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Births, deaths and marriages: SA Deaths

This State Library of South Australia guide includes information on cemeteries, church records, burials and probate (wills). Information for other states is also included.

How do I get a certificate?

There will not necessarily be more information on the certificate itself than you can see on the indexes. Check to see what information you will see on a certificate. However, you may want a copy of a certificate for your own records.

Death certificates can be purchased from the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Office.

Death certificates from 1842-1972 are available for anyone to purchase.

Death certificates from after 1972 are only available to the parents or the children of the person named within. You will need to provide proof of your identity.

Apply for a certificate online.

Obituaries & Personal Notices online

Useful websites

Hospital & Asylum Records

Records of deaths in hospitals and asylums are also a great source of information.  On occasion you will pick up information such as the ship on which they arrived in South Australia or how long they have been in South Australia.  Maybe a next of kin or a burial place.  It is well worth looking at these records.

Hospital and Asylum Records

Deaths on emigrant ships 1849 - 1867

Many of those who died while making the journey to South Australia seem to have simply disappeared.  For many a death certificiate was never recorded.  In 1866 the South Australian government released a listing of those who had died on board emigrant ships between 1849 and 5 June 1865.  This information was later added to from various sources, taking the total years covered to 1867.  The following details may be found; name of ship, name of deceased; age; date of death; cause of death and whether the person was buied at sea or on shore.

1836-1842

Before 1842, five denominations were operating in South Australia (Anglican, Wesleyan, Primitive Methodists, Catholic. Presbyterian & Congregational).  However the majority of marriages were recorded by the Anglican Church (Holy Trinity on North Terrace) officiated by Revd Charles Beaumont Howard, the first colonial Chaplain, and later by Revd Farrell.  St. Johns Anglican Church in Adelaide also holds early records for the colony.

To view a listing of early churches in the colony use the Adelaide Proformat website.

To access an online index to pre-civil registrations of SA births, deaths and marriages go to the Family History SA website.

These records are not consistent or complete. You can search the existing records onsite at the State Library on a CD ROM called South Australia pre-civil registration deaths. This CD ROM is available on the PCs in the Spence Wing and can only be searched onsite. Click here to arrange a booking.

You may also like to look at Records of deaths Feb 1802 - Aug 1842.  this is a compilation of records from a variety of sources including newspapers and the Holy Trinity Church register.  In chronological order but with a name index at back.  Please note that burial dates are not death dated.

1842-1972

Compulsory Civil Registration started in 1842. Death Indexes compiled by the South Australian Genealogy Society are available on CD ROM on the PCs in the Spence Wing, for the date ranges 1842 to 1915 and 1916 to 1972. These include the surname of the deceased, the given names, gender, age, marital status, residence, date and place of death, relative's given names, surname and relationship to the deceased. These CD ROMs can only be searched onsite. Click here to arrange a booking.

Some records were omitted from the 1916-1972 indexes by accident. You can see those records here.

If your search is still incomplete, the District Registers may prove useful. The local district registered events, copied the records and sent them to a central office. However, some of the copies didn't survive the journey to the central office!  To discover which District Register you need to search and where it is held, you can search here.

1972 onwards

There are no Death Indexes publicly available for deaths after 1972. This is for privacy reasons. However, there are other sources you can try. See the box below for some suggestions.

Information for Deaths after 1972

Personal Notices

You may be able to find information about a death in newspaper personal notices. If you know the approximate date and where the death took place, you can search the microfilmed newspapers at the State Library. There may be an index available that will list the publication, date and page number of the Death Notice which will save you time.

The State Library holds South Australian newspaper obituaries 1836-1900 which includes name of the deceased, place and date of death, full newspaper reference and BDM Registry reference. You can also check the The Adelaide chronicle personal notices index which indexes deaths listed in The Chronicle between 1921-1924. This is available on microfilm in the Family History area in the Spence Wing.

The State Library also holds Advertiser death notices [index],1991 and Index to the Advertiser death notices,1992-1996 on microfiche which you can search by name to find a date reference to Death Notices in The Advertiser between 1991-1996. You may also like to search a index called the Savill Index of The Advertiser funeral notices to find the date on which a funeral notice appeared in The Advertiser for the time spans 1971-1990 and 1997-onwards.

The library catalogue includes references to articles about South Australian people from selected newspapers, magazines, books and pamphlets held in the State Library. For example, obituaries from the Observer from 1880 onwards, and the Chronicle from 1920 onwards, are being progressively added to this index. You can search under the name of the person you are researching.

You can check the Ryerson Index online, a continually updated index to death notices appearing in current Australian newspapers. It also includes some funeral notices, probate notices and obituaries.

You can also seach the SA deaths notices index created by Adelaide Proformat.

Savill Index to The Advertiser Funeral Notices 1971 - onward now online

The Savill Index of Advertiser funeral notices is freely available online, covering the period 1971 onwards. It has been compiled by Mr Gerald Savill.

The State Library also holds the earlier printed version of the Savill Index. This is updated at the beginning of each year with the previous year's index, received from Mr Savill.

Copies of individual notices may be requested via the Library's Ask Us service. Unless specifically requested as a print, these will be forwarded as pdf files.  A quote for copying will be forwarded to you.  Or you can come into the Library in person and have staff assist you to make copies  from  the Advertiser microfilm.

South Australian wills

Wills can be an excellent resource for family historians. For a will to be acted upon, it has to be "proved" in a court. This is called granting "probate". If death occurred without a will (intestate) the next of kin could apply for a grant of administration to gain authority to distribute the estate. Testamentary papers are a group of papers associated with the probate. Copies of Wills are held at the Probate Registry.

Whilst the State Library does not hold actual copies of wills, it does have a number of indexes to wills.

Online searching

Genealogy SA has published extracts from the South Australian births, deaths and marriages indexes online. The information is equivalent to indexes published online by most Australian states. Information about these and other databases can be found at the Genealogy SA website.

Grave of Francis Harley

B 69727/278

See more information about this image hereYou may order a high quality photographic copy. No known copyright restrictions - Conditions of use.

Other useful sources

There are other sources you can search to locate information about a death. You might use these if you haven't found what you are looking for in the Death Indexes.

District births, deaths and marriages indexes. These are microfiche copies of births, deaths and marriages indexes from the District Registers, compiled by the South Australian Genealogy and Heraldry Society. The District Registers are the records held by the local district, before they were sent to the central Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry. The indexes held at the State Library will give you the book, page and entry number of the death registration. You would then need to look this up in the District Register itself. You can see the District registers in the particular Districts themselves. For example, the Angaston District Register would be held in Angaston. Copies of the Registers are available to use in the South Australian Genealogy and Heraldry Society Library in Unley.

Deaths from the South Australian government gazettes, 1845-1941, including the Northern Territory until December 1910 compiled by Georgina Bliss

The State Library holds a number of Church Records. These can hold references to births, deaths and marriages.  If you know what church your family attended you can check whether the State Library holds their records on the library catalogue by searching under the name of the church. Then you will need to look at the records themselves at the library in the Family History area or the Somerville Reading Room. If you would like help checking whether we have church records that may be useful to you, come into the Library or Ask Us from home.

The State Library holds many other sources of information about deaths including Cemetery Records and indexes to Wills (see box to the left). You can do a subject search on the library catalogue for an extensive list, or you can Ask Us to help you find something specific.

Probate Registry

The South Australian Probate Registry is located at 1 Gouger Street, Adelaide, SA, 5000.  To learn more about obtaining a Will in South Australia click here.

Each state in Australia has a Probate Registry.  To assist you in locating a Will interestate click here.