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Births and Deaths

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BIRTHS AND DEATHS REGISTRATION—Births.—In the case of every child born alive it is the duty of the father and mother of the child, and in default of the father and mother, of the occupier of the house in which, to his knowledge, the child is born, and of each person present at the birth, and of the person having charge of the child, to give to the local registrar of births, particulars concerning such birth, and in the presence of the registrar to sign the register. The particulars include : when born, name (if any), sex, name and surname of father, name and maiden surname of mother, rank or profes sion of father ; and they must be given within days from the date of birth. No fee is payable to the registrar ; but a penalty of forty shillings is incurred by omission to register. After the expiration of three months regis tration can be made only after certain formalities and declarations have been made and gone through. In the case of an illegitimate child, no person will, as father of such child, be required to give information concerning its birth ; nor will the name of any person be registered as father of the child, unless at the joint request of the mother, and of the pers,on acknowledging himself to be its father, who in such case must sign the register together with the mother.

Apart from registration it is now necessary, under pain of penalties, in localities where the Notification of Births Act, 1907, has been adopted, to give notice within thirty-six hours to the local medical officer of health of the occurrence of the birth of a child.

Deaths.—Where a person dies in a house, the parties required to give information to the local registrar are the nearest relatives of the deceased present at the death, or in attendance during the last illness of the deceased ; and in default of such relatives, the obligation falls upon every other relative dwelling or being in the same sub-district as the deceased. If there are no

such relatives, the information must be given by the occupier of the house in which, to his knowledge, the death took place ; and in default, by each inmate of such house, and by the person causing the body of the deceased to be buried. Five days is the time within which the information is to be given, and the penalty for not doing so is forty shillings. To wilfully give false information to the registrar concerning birth or death, or to make any false certificate or declaration, or any false statement with intent to have the same entered in the register, is now, under the Perjury Act, 1911, to commit a misdemeanour and become liable to penal servitude.

Evidence of birth.—It is sometimes necessary to prove in a court of law the age of a particular person. Thus the defendant in an action may have set up the defence of infancy. The certificate of registration of his birth is of little value for this purpose, and can just as easily be dispensed with, for the proper way to prove the fact is by a witness, such as a parent or elder sister, for example, who was present at his birth and can give the date thereof from his or her own knowledge. If, however, such a witness is not available, the registration certificate should be produced, and a witness adduced who can identify the person referred to in the certificate as the same person as the de fendant. A certificate of baptism is really more valuable than one of birth, for to obtain the former the child itself was bound to be produced, whilst in the latter case, the registration is made upon the mere information of a casual caller at the registrar's office.