A range of resources to assist you in your family history research

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Other Resources


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 wills 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 a searchable online index of Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) wills from 1384 to 1858. This can be accessed from the National Archives page covering Wills and Administrations before 1858.

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. The site now has a searchable index of the Probate Calendar from which copies may be purchased.

Newspapers

The British Newspaper Archive is a fascinating and growing resource for students of social and family history. There are currently over twenty two million pages online with thousands being added each day. The PAYG search option allows forty pages to be accessed for a single payment. Annual, quarterly and monthly subscriptions are also available giving unlimited access subject to a fair use clause.

The newspaper archive can also be accessed through findmypast.co.uk.

Electoral Registers

Electoral registers can be a valuable source for twentieth century research and for tracing families between census returns in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. When electoral registration began in 1832, however, only a small proportion of the population was entitled to vote. It is important to keep in mind that, despite progressive relaxation of properrty qualifications, men who were not householders did not get the vote until 1918. At the same time, women were given the vote, but only those over the age of 30. Universal suffrage with equal voting rights for men and women did come about until 1928.

The British Library has a complete set of electoral registers from 1947 onwards, but coverage is patchy for earlier years. Among online resources, findmypast.co.uk has an extensive but incomplete collection covering the period from 1832 to 1932. If your research interests include London, Ancestry.co.uk has an extensive collection covering the period from 1832 to 1965. Some sites provide online access to more recent registors. For eaxample, GenesReunited as registers for the period from 2002 to 2014.

It is also possible to view original electoral registers at many local archives offices.

Directories

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.

Migration

Many passenger lists covering inward and outward migration are available from sites such as Ancestry.co.uk and findmypast.co.uk.

For inward migration to the UK, the Moving Here website had a variety of resources.

Military

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.

Books

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.

Page last modified: 17 November 2017