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Home This and That Place Names in Vic BDM Indexes

Places Names in Vic BDM Indexes

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How to take some of the guesswork out of the abbreviated place names used in Victorian BDM indexes.  This process works best with entries prior to c1964.

Place names in these indexes are often shown as abbreviations which can sometimes be interpreted as multiple different places - 4 character abbreviations are often used but 3 or 5 or more characters are also common.

  • DON'T simply post a message on a Mailing List asking what place name is shown as "abcd" - the answer is generally a guess and not based on facts!
  • DON'T presume that the place is in Victoria - death entries may display Place of Birth which could be overseas [before the person arrived in Victoria / Australia].  Belfast could be Belfast, later named Port Fairy, in Victoria or it could be Belfast in Ireland.  Similarly marriage entries show Place of Birth for the FIRST spouse on the record.
  • DO check your column headings, particularly for marriages and deaths
  • DO use the Gazetteer of Victoria that is included on the BDM Index CD - browse the entries starting with the first character of the abbreviated Place Name
  • DO remember that 4 characters do not always represent one word - STAR is often used for St Arnaud; MTBL is often used for Mount Blackwood; SMEL is often used for South Melbourne
  • DO remember that the YEAR and TYPE of event are relevant to the interpretation of the 4 character abbreviation - many place names changed in later years or didn't exist in earlier years
  • DO remember that the abbreviated place name could include typing errors
  • DO remember that abbreviations may NOT be abbreviations - RYE is RYE!
  • DO check the location of other family events close to the year in question - i.e. if you are looking at the birth of a child whose Place of Birth is a long way away from two older siblings and two younger siblings then you may have interpreted the abbreviation incorrectly - you should at least ask why!
  • DO use a tool such as Geoscience Australia : Place Name Search to check the various geographical locations for this event and other family events - are they near each other?
  • DO use "local" knowledge such as the Vic BDM Index Abbreviations for Geelong and District
  • DO use on-line cemetery sites or death notices to locate burials for death references [e.g. Necropolis or Fawkner or the Ryerson Index to name but a few]
  • DO use the detailed tips below!  [the examples are for use with the Indexes on CD and not the on-line Vic BDM searching]


The registration numbers near the number of interest will generally be from the same main registration district and potentially have different abbreviations or nearby locations.EXAMPLE 1

Death in 1985
Place of Death : MTEL
Registration Number : 14082


SEARCH using the following fields:

Year : 1985
Reg Number : >14070 and <14090

Display results and SORT Regno column

The results either side of Reg Number 14082 include Death Place abbreviations of MORN, FRAN and RYE

As the death was in 1985, look at more recent maps or the Place Name Search link shown above and you will find these places grouped near each other:

MORN = Mornington
FRAN = Frankston
RYE = Rye
MTEL = Mount Eliza


Surname : RIPPON
Death in 1899
Place of Death : HTON
Registration Number : 5972

Suggested Place Names : Highton, Hamilton, Hampton etc. etc.

PRESUMPTION : A son was born in Geelong therefore HTON must stand for Highton, a suburb of Geelong.


SEARCH using the following fields:

Event : D [death]
Year : 1899
Reg Number : >5960 and <5990

Display results and SORT Regno column

The results either side of Reg Number 5972 include Death Place abbreviations of HTON, HTON H and HTON HOS

HOS infers Hospital - there isn't a large hospital at Highton therefore Hamilton Hospital appears to be the most likely.

Look for burial information in the area - for example Ian Marr's Cemeteries of South Western Victoria.  Hamilton Cemetery is only available on the DVD version, not the free on-line version, but a search by SURNAME on-line for RIPPON shows RIPPON burials in Hamilton Cemetery.

HTON = Hamilton


Surname : not provided
Death in 1937
Place of Death : NWTN_C
Registration Number : not provided

Suggested Place Names : North Western something-or-other, or North Williamstown something-or-other.


SEARCH using the following fields:

Death Place : NWT*
Year : 1937

Display results and SORT Dth Plc column

The results include Death Place abbreviations of NWTN, NWTN & C, NWTN & CHW, NWTN C and NWTN CH

Looking under "N" in the Gazetteer of Victoria, there is an entry for "Newtown" and an entry for "Newtown and Chilwell".

NWTN_C = Newtown & Chilwell [The Shire of Newtown & Chilwell is now part of the City of Greater Geelong and Newtown and Chilwell are suburbs in Geelong.  IMPORTANT: don't confuse Newtown in Geelong with Newtown to the north west of Geelong near Scarsdale]

Use a combination of the above tips to take as much guesswork as possible out of the Place Name!

[compiled by Susie Zada]

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 October 2014 22:26  

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