Compulsory civil registration began in 1856. The Act entitled: An Act for Registering Births, Deaths and Marriages 1856 allowed the Governor to establish an office in Sydney to register all births, deaths and marriages in the colony of NSW. The Governor was empowered to appoint a Registrar General, to divide the colony into registry districts and to appoint district registrars. The Registrar General supplied district registrars and registered ministers with books and forms for the recording of births, deaths and marriages.
It was now the responsibility of a parent, in the case of a birth, a minister, in the case of a marriage, or the owner of a house in which a death occurred, to notify the district registrar of the details so the event could be officially registered.
In the early years of civil registration most events were registered following verbal advice from the informant. The widespread use of notification forms did not begin until after World War One in 1918. District registrars would enter the details into bound registers and allocate the registration a unique number. In some registration districts these numbers would run sequentially for the whole year, while in other districts a new number series was begun each quarter. A copy of the registration was made on a loose registration sheet and forwarded to the Sydney Registry at the end of each quarter.
The Sydney Registry would consolidate these returns. They were bound with Sydney registrations first, followed by the metropolitan districts and then the country districts in alphabetical order. The consolidated registers were then renumbered starting at one (1) and running through the whole year.