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Researching British ancestry?

Now with literally millions of records online for England, Scotland and Wales as digital images or transcriptions, it can be difficult at times to decide where to begin looking. The following sites offer a large variety of useful records and information for anyone researching British ancestry.

  • Ancestry.co.uk: Ancestry.com offers online access to digitized images of all census returns from 1841 to 1901 for England, Wales, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man, and are in the process of adding these for Scotland as well. Other available records for British genealogy include early parish registers and a copy of the FreeBMD database mentioned above.
  • Find My Past: Previously known as 1837online.com, this Web site offers pay-per-view and subscription access to the Civil Registration Index for England & Wales, census records, city directories, and their most unique database - Passenger Lists of Ships Leaving the UK (1890-1919 presently available).
  • FreeBMD: A large portion of the Civil Registration Index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales have been transcribed by volunteers and can be searched online for free at FreeBMD.
  • The Genealogist: Pay-per-view all-inclusive subscriptions are inexpensive here, and the credits are good for up to three months or a year, depending on the subscription you choose. This site from S&N; Genealogy Supplies offers excellent value for its wealth of genealogy databases, including the full BMD index (births, marriages, and deaths), census records, parish registers, directories, and a variety of specialty databases. The BMD site is also affiliated, as is the volunteer indexing site UK Indexer.
  • GENUKI
  • The International Genealogical Index (IGI): This huge (and FREE) database from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) contains numerous baptisms and marriages transcribed directly from parish records around England and Wales. Check the source to see if the information was taken from the original parish records, Bishops Transcripts, or was provided by a church member researching his/her own family history. Most of these parish records are from the 1850s and earlier.
  • National Archives of England & Wales: The National Archives offers a wide variety of digitized public records including Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) wills from 1384 to 1858, WWI Campaign medals, service registers of Royal Navy Seamen (1873-1923), the Domesday Book, and census returns for England and Wales, 1841-1901. In general, index searches are free and you pay individually for each document you choose to download and view.
  • Scotland's People: I could only wish that other regions had as much available online as Scotland. Through Scotlands People you can access online indexes to births, marriages and deaths from 1 January 1855, as well as images of the actual records on a pay-per-view basis. They also have all census records for Scotland from 1841-1901, old parish registers of baptisms and marriages from 1553-1854, and Wills and Testaments held by the National Archives of Scotland.
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