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The 1939 National Register


In December 1938 it was announced in the House of Commons that in the event of war, a National Register would be taken that listed the personal details of every civilian. This Register was to be a critical tool in coordinating the war effort; it would be used to issue identity cards and organise rationing. On September 1st, 1939, Germany invaded Poland prompting Britain to declare war. Four days later, on September 5th, the National Registration Act received royal assent and the Registrar General announced that National Registration Day would be September 29th.

Having issued forms to more than 41 million people, the enumerators were charged with the task of visiting every household to collect the names, addresses, marital status and other key details of every civilian in the country, issuing identity cards on the spot. Even very young children received a card. The identity cards issued were essential items from the point the Register was taken right up until 1952, when the legal requirement to carry them ceased. Until that point, every member of the civilian population had to be able to present their card upon request by an official, or bring it to a police station within 48 hours.

The reasons for the Register were numerous – it was essential to know who everyone was, and to track their movements if they moved house, as well as to keep track of the population as babies were born and people died. The 1939 Register represents one of the most important surveys of 20th Century Britain. The information it contains not only helped toward the war effort, it was also used as a data base for the founding of the National Health Service which celebrated its 70th birthday in 2018.

Furthermore, the 1931 census record was destroyed during an air raid on London and because of the hostilities of World War II the 1941 census was never taken. The 1939 Register is therefore the only surviving overview of the civil population of England and Wales spanning the period 1921 to 1951. It bridges a census gap that risked losing an entire generation, and is a fascinating resource for anyone interested in understanding 20th Century Britain and its people.

The names of the outlaying farms in Goadby Marwood were recorded by the enumerator in 1939, but most of the houses and cottages in the village itself were not. Using various maps and other records the Goadby Marwood History Group has tried to identify as many properties as possible but this has not been possible in every case and inaccuracies may exist.

1939 Register Transcription for Goadby Marwood

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