England Major Websites
England Major Websites
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With many genealogists having English ancestry, genealogical records from England were place online relatively early on and continue to be added to be many websites. Online access to English records is quite good compared to other countries, though there are very few free resources: be prepared to either pay or use the subscriptions of libraries.
The 3 biggest genealogical websites worldwide are Ancestry, FindMyPast and FamilySearch . TheGenealogist also has quite a large collection of English records.
- Ancestry is the world's largest genealogy website. Amongst their billions of English records are the 1841-1911 censues and GRO indexes to births, marriages and deaths after 1837. They also have parish records for many counties, the IGI, electoral rolls, probate records, directories, phone books and many more.
- FindMyPast also has a large collection of English records. Alongside the 1841-1911 censuses they also have the 1939 Register. Like Ancestry they also have the IGI and the GRO Indexes, along with various other records- newspapers, parish records,military records, electoral rolls, directories, school records and more.
- FamilySearch has a large collection of English records, with 1841-1911 census, GRO Indexes and many parish records and other records. Don't overlook the FamilySearch Catalog, which contains many records not on the main part of the website.
- TheGenealogist's collections are particularly strong in English church records
Ancestry, FindMyPast and TheGenealogist are all commercial websites. A subscription is required to view most of the records, often costing more than $100 a year. Alternatively many public libraries, archives and Family History Centers have subscriptions that are available for use by patrons. FamilySearch is free, but some of the images are supplied by partners (often one of the three companies above) and therefore require a subscription at that website to view. Many of the records available through the FamilySearch Catalog have restrictions on viewing, and must be viewed at a Family History Center or Affliate Library.
In England civil registration operated from 1837. Copies of the births, marriages and deaths recorded were forwarded quarterly to London (the General Register Office). There alphabetical indexes of the births, marriages and deaths of that quarter were created and made publically available. The actual contents of the registers are kept private and can only be accessed upon making an application and paying a fee.
The General Register Office (GRO) has a website with digitalized, searchable forms of the GRO Indexes for births and deaths. These enhanced indexes include mothers maiden name for pre-1916 births, which was not included on the original indexes. Births, marriages and deaths can all be ordered here.
Don't order from other sites- they typically charge extra and take longer. Only the GRO has access to the original registers.
The GRO Indexes are needed in order to be able to order an original certificate. Ancestry, FindMyPast, FamilySearch and TheGenealogist all have the Indexes on their sites. A Free alternative is FreeBMD, part of the FreeUKGen group of websites.
- The National Archives (TNA)
The joined forces of the Public Record Office and the Historical Manuscripts Commission, containing a wealth of information, digitized records, help resources, and links to additional sites, including archives and directories. Contains census returns, wills, military records and more. For a fuller explanation, see The National Archives of the United Kingdom.
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission
The Debt of Honour Register on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission makes it possible to enter criteria to search a database listing 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died during the two world wars and 23,000 cemeteries, memorials and other locations world-wide where they are commemorated. The register can also be searched for details of 67,000 Commonwealth civilians who died as a result of enemy action in the Second World War. The site is also informative in relation to all that is Commission-related, and includes a lot of related links.
Providing links to many websites that offer online transcriptions of UK births, marriages, deaths, and censuses, UKBMD is divided into a number of categories (including One-Name Studies) in order to distinguish the type of sites that will be searched for. Sites covering records such as parish registers and Bishops’ Transcripts are also included. In addition to numerous site listings for GRO BMDs, a special feature to note is the listing of Local BMD county sites, which, although currently not many and still in progress, are making the original and more accurate BMD records available from local register offices.
- FreeUKGen is an organization aiming to make more census, BMD and parish records available online for free. The coverage of FreeBMD is nearly 100% and makes it a very useful resource, but the other two hold only a small proportion of the available records and don't provide access to the original images.
Serving as a virtual reference library, GENUKI is of particular relevance to the UK & Ireland (see definition), and is a huge network requiring its own hierarchy, with an extensive number of subject headings, which are based upon the LDSFamilySearch Catalog. It also provides mailing lists and newsgroups and a calendar of external links to upcoming events.
A UK-based international organisation, the Federation of Family History Societies represents, advises and supports over 200 family history societies and other genealogical organisations world-wide, with a total membership of over 180,000. In-depth detail is provided of research-helps, on-going projects, including the National Burial Index (as well as mention of its involvement in the British 1881 Census Project with The Genealogical Society of Utah), and the latest information about conferences and fairs. Additional facilities available to societies that have subscribed.
It's the UK's largest Free Family History Forum with over 4.5 Million posts all fully searchable. RootsChat is a busy, active community of likeminded people researching all aspects of family history.