England research guide

Article Covers


Where to start

  • The FamilySearchWiki for England is a good place to start.
  • Genuki - UK and Ireland Genealogy is a British website originally written in the 1990s and still full of good material. Some of the County articles are not as up to date as they might be, but it is full of lists: such as Registration Districts and the parishes they covered, locations of county archive offices, the setup of county governments, availability of transcribed censuses, etc, etc.
  • "The National Archives" also known as TNA and still familiarly known as The Public Record Office located at Kew in western London. The National Archives has subtitled the site "UK government records and information management". They have several research guides to choose from including this "indepth guide". The National Archive is extremely good if you are searching for people of historical note who wrote letters or articles that might have been saved or who had articles written about them. See also the reference for A2A below.

Vital Records

  • Civil Registation of births, marriages, and deaths started in 1837. Information is available at the English General Register Office website. Another good website discussing civil registration is Barbara's Registration Web Page.
  • FreeBMD is a free, partial index to the Civil Registration information for England and Wales covering 1837 to 1983. Transcription of the indices is an ongoing process, with new information always being added. All transcription is done by volunteers. The database can be searched by event type (birth, marriage, or death), registration district, county, surname, first name, date range, and other variables.


British censuses have taken place every ten years starting in 1841 with the exception of 1941, but only those up to 1911 are currently available to the public. Transcriptions and indexes are available on FamilySearch, FreeCEN--a sister site of FreeBMD, and commercial genealogy websites such as Ancestry Worldwide or Ancestry.co.uk and FindMyPast. Many local family history and genealogy societies have also produced transcriptions for their local areas.

Parish Records and Registers

Baptisms, burials and marriages were registered by the local churches. From 1756 until 1836 marriages were not recognized unless they took place in the Church of England parish church. The records produced in a local parish were copied annually by a reprensentative of the local bishop and preserved at diocesan headquarters. These copies are known as Bishops Transcripts. Today the originals of the parish registers are usually stored at county archive offices, but this may not be the case 100% of the time. Many parish registers were filmed by FamilySearch or its predecessor. These can be borrowed and viewed at LDS libraries throughout the world. Transcriptions have been carried out by local family history or genealogical societies and by more central organizations such as FreeREG and FamilySearch.

GENUKI has a section on where to find baptism and burial information for other faiths. This is one of many useful sections of their huge family history website. GENUKI stands for Genealogy United Kingdom and Ireland.

Local Register Offices

A register office is often referred to as a registry office or the registrar’s office, but the formal title is as above. The register office was /is responsible for recording the vital statistics. By obtaining the name of the local office it is possible to pinpoint the local area and perhaps do more investigation to see if there is other evidence of the family living in the area. The register office was also usually responsible for the census and nineteenth century censuses have been published even if certificates were not.

GENUKI has produced a list of all the registry offices throughout the country.


Federation of Family History Societies. Most genealogical societies in Britain are united within this society.

Maps and Gazetteers

  • Wiki - Maps of England
  • England Jurisdictions 1851 from Family Search maps. A finding aid or "app". Type a location in the search box, select Parish, County, Civil Registration District, Diocese, Rural Deanery, Poor Law Uniion, Hundred or Division from the pulldown list and you are provided with a box locating the place on a Google map. The Info tab gives the dates of creation of the parish, its predecessor(s) and the availability of Parish Records and Bishops Transcripts. The Jurisdictions tab gives the Civil Registration District, the Probate Court, the Diocese, the Rural Deanery, the Poor Law Union, the Hundred and the Ecclesiastical Province. Under options you have a choice of listing contiguous parishes, doing a radius place search, searching the Family History Catalog, the Family History Historical Records, or the FamilySearch Research Wiki, or simply moving on to another search. Remember that history “stops” at 1851 on this finding aid.
  • A Vision of Britain between 1801 and 2001. Includes maps, statistical trends and historical descriptions. Appears to be very well put together.
  • The Ancestral Atlas for putting your family "on the map".
  • UK Government Statistics Many maps can be found here. One in particular is the map of the GRO Registration Districts.
  • A Guide to the Arrangement of the Registration Districts Listed in the Indexes to the Civil Registration of England and Wales contains nineteenth-century maps. It is on fiche #6020287.

External Links


Map of UK Postal Areas

A full description of the postal area codes.

 UK Postal Area Map