Births in Gibraltar

The Birth Register
The registration of births in Gibraltar began in 3rd of October 1848. Compulsory registration of births occurred on 20th January 1887. Owing to financial constraints (by LAS), the digital database starts in 1870. Accordingly, the digital register provided here is incomplete. In a similar vein, it was also problematic to record every element contained in the register. A couple of observations related to the database warrants attention. First, it was not common the name of the baby to be registered until the 1880s Up until 1885, The registrar would indicate whether the informant was able to sign the form. After 1885, this information is not present in the database.

It important to acknowledge that the spelling of names was problematic both in terms of readability and transcription errors when entering the thousands of entries. Accordingly, when exploring the digital records, your search should include variations on the spelling of names

Births in Gibraltar: A brief Overview
There has been relatively little academic interest in the reproductive behavior of Gibraltarians. A few remarks on fertility over time are warranted. First, there has been a steady decline in the crude birth rate (CBR) since the first decade of the 20th century (see Figure 1). Second, there was a dramatic rise or baby boom in the post war period following the return of the civilian population after WWII. Finally, while Gibraltar and Malta shared a decrease in the CBR over time as well a baby boom, there was significantly lower birth rate among Gibraltarian mothers relative to that of Malta until the 1950s.

From a demographic perspective, fertility results in population increase. Population growth is checked by two forces: (1) people leaving the community (emigration) and/or (2) by deaths. Figure 2 shows a measure of the second force; that is, how many infants are lost before the age of one year per 1000 livebirths (IMR). What is readily apparent is that Gibraltar tracks very well with that of Grt. Britain and Wales. Unfortunately, IMR was very high in Malta until the 1950s. While the issue of IMR is very complex, two factors in Gibraltar contributed to higher infant survivorship. First, there was the post-natal care as early as 1910 where lectures and classes were given to the young women on childcare that highlighted the importance of hygiene, breastfeeding and prevention of infant diseases. By 1920, the Gibraltar’s MOH reported a continued prominence of breastfeeding among mothers as well as receiving classes on the practice of breastfeeding and mother craft (see Figure 3). A second difference in reproductive behaviour was that the birth interval or the time between successive children could be very short resulting in some cases Maltese mothers to bear ten children over their reproductive period.

Figure 1. Crude Birth Rates in Gibraltar and Malta: 5 year moving averages

Figure 2. IMR in Gibraltar and Malta: 5 year moving averages.

Figure 3. Infant Welfare Center in Gibraltar: (National Archives of Gibraltar, ca. 1920)

Births in Gibraltar 1870-1920 online project is a collaboration between Professor. L. Sawchuk, University of Toronto and Anthony W. Pitaluga, Archivist, Gibraltar National Archives, ( This work is part of the policy of the Government of Gibraltar to digitize the national record and to make information more accessible and available to the general public on-line.
April 2020.

The information provided is free of charge. In return, please acknowledge Professor. L. Sawchuk, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto Scarborough (, and thank the many U. of T. students who assisted in data entry and finally, thanks to the Gibraltar Civil Register Office for permission to access the registers.

Disclaimer: The material included here is not an official record of a birth and as such, solely intended for those interested in appreciating their ancestral roots.

1 Sawchuk, L.A. 2008 Deconstructing Colonial Health Differentials: Malta and Gibraltar prior to World War II. Journal of Maltese History 1: 19-33.

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