British Persons Abroad

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British subjects born abroad can be a challenge to find. The National Archives in the United Kingdom (and the Family History Library has copies of some and indexes to all) has many British church records for persons living in foreign countries.

  • The National Archives of the UK source RG 43 contains indexes to miscellaneous births, marriages and deaths in foreign countries for the years 1627–1960.  This source is also available at the Family History Library.However, many of the entries found therein are now indexed and widely available online at:
  1. findmypast ($\£)
  2. BMDRegister ($\£)
  3. TheGenealogist ($\£)
  • Many indexed and extracted records will be found at and some additional entries in the International Genealogical Index (IGI), or in the FreeTree. These databases are by far the largest on the world wide web for Great Britain and of which may allow you to find a person from the British Isles who was out of the country when christened or married or was buried.
  • Records of birth, marriage, and death or burial may be found in church records or consular records. An excellent list of known records and their repositories can be found in:  Yeo, Geoffrey, The British Overseas (Family History Library book 942 V24y 1995). Microfilm numbers for these records can be found by using the Place Search in the FamilySearch Catalog Great Britain-Church Records and also Great Britain-Civil Registration.
  • Regimental Registers, Chaplains' Returns and Other Records:  Records of the families of military personnel were kept by the regimental clerks and chaplains.  The General Register Office at The National Archives, in Kew, Surrey has microfiche indexes and the original records to Army Chaplains records, consular records, regimental registers, births and deaths at sea, and war deaths. Indexes (and some microfilmed copies of originals) are available at the Family History Library on microfiche but will eventually be scanned, indexed and made accessible online (if permission is granted) at FamilySearch. To view originals or indexes, their call numbers can be located in the FamilySearch Catalog by using the Place Search for Great Britain-Civil Registration-Indexes.
  • East India Office Records:  Indexes and original records of British anglicans, other protestants, and Roman Catholic persons baptized, married and buried, who pensioned, served in the military, or probated wills in East India are recorded in the available registers both at The East India Office Library, housed in the British Library, London, or at the Family History Library (FHL) and its 4,600 satellite FamilySearch Centers worldwide. Microfilm numbers may be found in the FamilySearch Catalog by searching Great Britain-Church Records or by using Register of East India Office Records (Family History Library book Reg 942 D23ei.)
  • The IndiaCard Index compiled by the Society of Genealogists in London is available through the Family History Library. The index is contained on forty-one rolls of microfilm. Use the Place Search in the FamilySearch Catalog for Great Britain-Genealogy-Indexes. The India Card Index mainly covers the years 1790-1857. Abbreviations in the index are explained in Sources for Anglo-Indian Genealogy In The Library Of The Society Of Genealogists, pages 11-12 (Family History Library book 942.1/L1 D23t).
  • Frequently, many British subjects/citizens living abroad recorded baptisms, marriages or burials in the local or national civil registrations of their respective countries in which they lived. Searching in these registers is a "must" before completing your search for their names and life events in that country.


Agnetta Wilkin, a daughter of Joseph Wilkins and Agnetta, was christened in Russia in 1721. Her birth is in the IGI in the Continental Europe Region.

Florence Nightingale was born 12 May 1820 in Florence Italy. Her birth is listed in the British Vital Records Index. The birth had been registered with Dr. Williams Library.

Possible uses:

Help in locating persons not found in the British Isles where they are thought to have been living.

Some of the christenings and marriages abroad have been extracted and may be found in the IGI.

The Office of Population, Censuses and Surveys has records for British subjects outside England, including registrations of events at sea, at consuls and embassies, and for military personnel. For further information, see:

Some additional countries in which to search for British citizens overseas include:

  • St Helena
  • Ionian Islands
  • Burma
  • Indian Free States
  • Old Commonwealth countries (i.e. British West Indies, British South Pacific, etc.)
  • South Africa
  • Others