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Gentleman's Magazine, May 1759
The Gentleman's Magazine began publication in 1731, and continued monthly until 1922. The monthly magazine is particularly useful to genealogists because it published notices of births, marriages, and deaths in prominent families or persons of interest, whether famous or infamous. The magazine included reports of promotions (army, and navy), preferments (Church of England clergy), and all bankruptcies.
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A major change in format was made in 1856, when the publication discontinued the published notices useful to genealogists. Another change removed the obituaries in June 1868 (although a select few were published before complete discontinuance in December 1869).[1]

Many issues of the Gentleman's Magazine are available in digital format online, most notably on:

Indexes

In addition to an index for each year of Gentleman's Magazine which was usually published with the December issue of the magazine, a full index was compiled by the College of Arms and typed by the Genealogical Society of Utah[2]. This 75 volume index gives full name and an abbreviated reference to the date, event, and any other person(s) in each entry. This index covers the years 1731-1850. The index is available at the Family History Library as FHL book 942 B2g Index, but is also available on microfilm (films #599738-761, 24 films) or microfiche (#6026701, 126 fiche).

An abstract of the "chief contents of the Gentleman’s Magazine from 1731 to 1868” was published by George L. Gomme[3] in 1891. He describes it as "excerpts from the original publications containing local history and information, topographical details, and family history are presented here, organized into volumes by county." Gomme's work has been digitized and indexed by Ancestry.com and is available online to Ancestry subscribers or at subscribing Libraries.

Also, a four volume set of indexes were compiled by Samuel Ayscough (Assistant Librarian of the British Museum) with some assistance or later editing by John Nichols and by Gabriel Richard. The contents of these indexes are given as[4]:

  • Volume 1 - 1731 - 1786 (published by Samuel Ayscough)
    • Index to the essays, dissertations and historical passages (pp 494)
    • Index to poetry (pp. 62)
    • Index to names (pp 239)
    • Index to plates (pp 10)
    • Index to books (pp 118)
  • Volume 2 - 1787 - 1818 (published by John Nichols)
    • Index to the essays, dissertations and historical passages (pp 486)
    • Index to poetry (pp. 57)
    • Index to names (pp 519)
    • Index to plates (pp 17)
    • Index to books (pp 103)
    • Index to books announced (pp 13)
    • Index to musical publications (pp 3)
  • Volume 3 - 1731 - 1818 (published by John Nichols) ·
    • Index to plates (pp 239)
  • Volume 4 - 1731 - 1780 (published by the British Record Society) ·
    • Index to names and surnames (pp 687)

Volume 2 includes an "Index of Names to the Marriages, Births, Deaths, Promotions, & c. " covering 1731-1786 and volume 4 contains an "Index of Names of Persons" covering 1731-1818. The indexes are by surname only and are available online for free through Google Books:

  • Ayscough, Samuel and John Nichols. "General Index to the Gentleman's Magazine" Nichols, 1789. Vol. 2. Free digital version at Google Books (follow link to page 64, which is followed by the index, which is numbered as page 1). Indexes names from Vol. 1 "To the End of the LVIth Volume of the Gentleman’s Magazine" and covers 1731-1786.
  • Ayscough, Samuel and John Nichols. (sometimes Richard, Gabriel)  "General Index to the Gentleman's Magazine" Nichols, 1821. Vol. 3. Free digital version at Google Books

David Dobson gleaned references to American births, marriages, and deaths from Gentleman's Magazine and published it as:

  • Dobson, David. American Vital Records from the Gentleman's Magazine, 1731-1868. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1987. FHL 973 V22d.

A few partial indexes to genealogical events in Gentleman's Magazine are also available:

  • Edward Alexander Fry's Index to the Marriages in the Gentleman's Magazine, 1731-1768[5]
  • Index to the Biographical and Obituary Notices in Gentleman's Magazine, 1731-1780[6]
  • Marriages from Gentleman's Magazine for the years 1731 to 1768 were included in Boyd's Marriage Index[7]
  • Obituaries were included in Musgrave's Obituaries[8]
  • For those fortunate to have a surname beginning with a letter between Aa and Alexander, there is Joseph Foster's index to marriages, which includes marriages from this periodical as well as The Times (1865-1880 only) and the Historical Register.[9]
  • Bodleian Library's Internet Library of Early Journals offers an online subject search tool for the years 1731-1750.


  1. Mann, Alan E. "Gentleman's Magazine", online article available at http://www.alanmann.com/class/files/GENTLMAG.pdf.
  2. College of Arms, Gentleman's Magazine Index, 75 vols. (Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1958-60; typescript)
  3. George Laurence Gomme, ed. The Gentleman's Magazine Library 1731-1868. Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1891
  4. "Gentleman's Magazine", Midlands Historical Data web site, 2012. http://www.midlandshistoricaldata.org/SHPLoader.aspx?x=Psearch/D1006_index.htmlsc=1920.
  5. Fry, Edward Alexander. Index to the Marriages in the Gentleman's Magazine, 1731-1768 (London:[s.n.], 1922)
  6. Fry, Edward Alexander. Index to the Biographical and Obituary Notices in Gentleman's Magazine,1731-1780, (London: British Records Society, 1891.
  7. Boyd, Percival comp., Boyd's Marriage Index, 555 volumes, (London: Society of Genealogists, 1938-1962)
  8. Musgrave, William, comp., Musgrave's Obituaries, 6 vols. (London, Harleian Society, 1900)
  9. "Marriages of the Nobility and Gentry, 1650-1880", an article in Collectanea Genealogica, 1881-1885



 

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