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Key Topics to get Started:
The Beginner’s Corner links to information that will help you get started researching your English ancestors. Choose from one of the following:
- I want to find a birth, christening or baptism.
- I want to find a marriage.
- I want to find a death or burial.
- I want to know about how my family lived.
These articles may also help you as you begin researching your English ancestors:
- Beginners Guide 1837 to 1901: Finding Records of Your Ancestors England 1837 To 1901 (3 Mb pdf file)
- New: The Family History Library England Beginning Research series of videos is now available online. Click here to access this course.
- Search strategies for finding births, marriages, and deaths.
- England Record Selection Table - a list of the best records to search for finding specific information.
See also English Ancestry in the FamilySearch Learning Center
- Article: England Probate Records
- Browse by topic: All pages for England
- Database of British Jews: The Knowles Collection - was last updated with now over 240,000 entries.
CountiesClick on a county to go to that county's page:
Or click on a link below:
- Join a Community of England Researchers! Ask questions, help others, and share your research successes on Forums, Facebook and/or Skype! NEW!
- Search strategies for finding births, marriages, and deaths.
- England counties list (with their Chapman Code abbreviations)
- England Record Selection Table
- English Script Tutorial
- Finding records of your ancestors - England 1837 to 1901
- England Major Websites
- England Genealogical Discussion Groups
- The Workhouse
- A genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain as well as the royal families of Europe thepeerage.com/
Research Strategies in England Records
Follow these principles as you search the records for your ancestor:
Always search for one generation at a time
Prove ancestry one generation at a time; always allow the evidence to lead where it takes you under all circumstances. Never jump to conclusions seeking specifically with the intent to connect into families of nobility or Royalty.
Always search for an ancestor's entire family
Each person in a family is precious. Records for each person may include clues for identifying other family members. In most families, children were born at regular intervals (every two to three years). Where gaps appear for a longer period between some children (four to five years), re-examine the birth-christening and the death-burial records for a child who may have been overlooked. Consider looking at parish chest and other records and in other places to find a missing family member, i.e. first-born children are often christened in the parish of the bride (mother).
Search each source thoroughly
The information you need to find a person or trace the family further may be a minor detail of the record you are searching; especially ancestors with more common surnames. So always note identifying factors such as the occupation of your ancestor, become familiar with his/her signature, a street address, place of abode, age, note a middle name, given-names usage, names of witnesses, godparents (in Catholic registers), neighbors, relatives, guardians, children's birth order in a family, and others.
Search a broad time period
Dates obtained from some sources may not be accurate. Look several years before and after the date you think an event, such as a birth, occurred.
Many records are indexed, including especially census, civil registrations of births, marriages and deaths (post-1837), and probate records; and to a lesser extent, church records. Most indexes are incomplete, even if just a little. Often indexes include only the name of the specific person the record is about, excluding most pieces of evidence shown in the original documents. Always be aware that those recording original information may have misheard and thus miss-recorded the names of people and places; moreover, at the indexing-stage, indexers may have have omitted, miss-spelled given, surnames and places as well.
Search for emigrant's origins in records of country of settlement
Information about an England emigrant ancestor's place of birth or residence is vital to successful research. In pre-1700 England many people in England especially used a small variety of names, knowing the place of residence or birth is critical before you can research in England's records for further generations. Identifying the correct ancestor (example: Richard Taylor from other Richard Taylor), requires extensive research in all available records in the country of settlement--to the fullest extent possible such as noting neighbors, others possessing the same surname in the same or nearby township[s], given-naming patterns and searching for the same matching given-name usage in England via searching in the largest available online databases, including (but not limited to) 1) FamilySearch, 2) FindMyPast, 3) Ancestry.co.uk, 4) FreeReg, 5) county OPC projects (Online Parish Clerk), 6) TNA (National Archives), 7) BritishOriginsNetwork, FHLFavorites, and others.
Searching Parish records: Always include a search in the chapelry registers also
Difficult ancestral trails often 'disappear' when an area is dotted with a mixture of chapels among the parishes, such as in especially Lancashire and Middlesex, and to a lesser extent in Cheshire, Yorkshire, Northumberland, northeast Surrey and in England's large cities, such as Bristol, Norwich and others. Aways search all chapels that exist and lay within an ancient parish. Check the following outstanding online resources and aids to help you to more accurately identify all chapels lying within an ancient parish boundary. Thorough research critically depends upon this endeavor:
- Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870)
- Topographical Dictionary of England (1848)
- England Jurisdiction 1851 Maps project
- Phillimore's Atlas and Index of Parish Registers (2003) - available at many large archives, public and academic libraries throughout the world; purchase at Amazon.com or used on Ebay.com [Note: Contains omissions of some known chapels in two or more counties]
Watch for spelling variations
Look for the many ways a person or place name could have been spelled. Spelling was not standardized when most early records were made. You may find a name spelled differently than it is today, as well as several different spelling variations in the original records.
Record Your Searches and Findings
Copy the information you find and keep detailed notes about each record you search. These notes should include the author, title, location, call numbers, description, and results of your search. Most researchers use a research log for this purpose.
FamilySearch Historical Records
- Main article: England FamilySearch Historical Records
Wiki articles describing online collections are found at:
- England and Wales, Non-Conformist Record Indexes (RG4-8) (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- England Deaths and Burials (FamilySearch Historical Records)
Ideas for Finding Compiled Information on English Ancestry
Here's an article entitled "A Checklist of Compiled Sources and Where to Find Them" that's specifically focused to aiding researchers--beginners to professional--who want to learn of compiled genealogical data on (i.e. immigrant) ancestry from England and Great Britain in general.
This article shares numerous resources such as gateway websites which provide access to ultimately billions of names that researchers worldwide have gathered and shared online or in major archives on British ancestry.