England Biography

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A biography is a history of a person’s life. A biography may give you birth, marriage, and death information and the names of parents, spouse, children, or other family members. Use the information from a biography cautiously because there may be inaccuracies.

You can locate individual or family biographies in the Surname Search of the Family History Library Catalog. For biographies of royalty, nobility, and those with coats of arms, see the "Nobility" section of this outline.

Thousands of biographies have been gathered and published in collections of biographies, sometimes called biographical encyclopedias or dictionaries. Usually these include only biographies of prominent or well-known British subjects. However, some collections of biographies are of specific groups such as painters, ministers, radicals, or architects.

Look at the topic "Biography" in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog if your ancestor played an important part in a group or occupation. For prominent businessmen, leaders, or religious or historical figures, the following are important sources:

British and Irish Biographies. London, England: Chadwyck- Healey, 1986. (On more than 1,500 FHL microfiche.) This is a major, growing collection on microfiche of various biographies and directories Most of this collection is indexed (FHL fiche 6342001, 101 fiche ). You can find the fiche numbers and index references in:

Register to Family History Library Microfiche Numbers for British and Irish Biographies, 1840–1940. Salt Lake City, Utah, USA: Family History Library, 1989. (FHL book Reg 942 A3cj.) You can find this collection in the Author/Title Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:


British Biographical Archives. New York, New York, USA: K. G. Sauer, Inc., 1986. (FHL fiche 6029709–732, 1260 fich.) This collection of biographies is taken from 324 printed sources and covers the 17th–19th centuries.

The General Biographical Dictionary, Chalmers, Alexander, Revised Edition. 32 Volumes. London, England: J. Nichols, 1812. (FHL book 920.042 C353g.) This is a historical and critical account of the lives and writings of most eminent British persons from 1060 to 1812. It is arranged alphabetically and has an index in each volume.

Dictionary of National Biography. London, England: Smith, Elder, & Company, 1885–1900. Reprint. London, England: Oxford University Press, 1993. (FHL book 920.042 D561n; on 278 fiche starting with 6051261.) This series includes biographies of British subjects whose careers would be of interest to many people. It includes people who lived from 500 to 1980.

Collective biographies are usually listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:





You may find some collections under the localities listed above and then the subject "GENEALOGY."