This page is not intended as a rival to Cyndi's List
, but simply offers a few pointers towards sources covering some of the major areas of interest to family historians.
Wills and Probate
Wills can be a very important resource in providing new information about family relationships and in verifying information obtained from other sources. Some include the names of numerous family members. Others may be singularly uninformative e.g. where all property is left to the spouse and no children are named.
Prior to 1858, wills were administered by the church courts. In most cases, probate was granted by the Consistory Court or Archdeaconry Court in the relevant diocese. In cases of very high value, or where property was held in more than one diocese, wills were administered by the Prerogative Courts of Canterbury or York.
Many County Archives Offices hold pre 1958 from which copies can be obtained. Some counties such as Cheshire have put an index online. The British Record Society
has published a series of volumes many of which contain probate indexes. These can often be consulted in local reference libraries. The National Archives has an searchable online index of Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) wills from 1384 to 1858. Copies can be purchased through the Documents Online
Since 1858, wills have been administered by the state. See the Justice Department website
for how to access the Probate Calendar (the national wills index) and how to obtain copies. We understand that the Probate Service plans to put a partially searchable index of the Probate Calendar online later this year. In the meantime, Ancestry.co.uk has a fully searchable version for wills proved between 1858 and 1966 as part of its Premium membership package.
The British Newspaper Archive
is a fascinating and growing resource for students of social and family history. There are currently over five million pages online with up to eight thousand being added each day. We purchased some credits soon after it went online and found some very interesting nuggets of information about some of our relatives in the areas covered.
PAYG search options range from £6.95 for two days to £29.95 for thirty days. For those with good coverage of the areas of interest, there is an annual subscription of £79.95 giving unlimited access subject to a fair use clause.
From the same stable as UKBMD comes a new site UKGDL
which aims to provide links to Genealogical Directories and Lists. It can be searched by county or by category and should prove to be a useful resource.
Many passenger lists covering inward and outward migration are available from sites such as Ancestry.co.uk and findmypast.co.uk. A useful starting point is the National Archives website which has a page on Passenger lists and other migration records
For inward migration to the UK, the Moving Here website
has a variety of resources.
From the same stable as UKBMD comes a new site UKMFH
which aims to provide links to military history resources. It can be searched by county or by category and should prove to be a useful resource.
Blogs and Newsletters
If you want to keep abreast of events in UK genealogy, Mad About Genealogy
is a useful blog with numerous additional links to family history websites. Another good source of up to the minute information is Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
. You can either read it online or subscribe for a free daily email. It has a distinct North American flavour, but does pick up on most significant events affecting UK researchers. There is also a technology bias as Dick is an avid user of new gadgets and has strong views on backing up data. The Plus Edition, including some of the longer articles, requires a small subscription.
There is a huge variety of books available on both the general subjects of family history and genealogy and on numerous specialist topics. Soon after it was first published in paperback in 2000, we bought a copy of "Ancestral Trails: The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History" by Mark D Herber. The second Edition was published in 2005 and it remains our recommended book for an overview of the subject and to be reached for whenever our research takes us in a new direction. As the title implies, it is fully comprehensive and is liberally sprinkled with real examples from Mr. Herber's own research.