2009-11-16

Online Records for English, Irish and Scottish Ancestors

During the course of family tree research for myself and others I’ve come across ancestors born in England, Scotland and Ireland. There’s a wealth of information that can be found using the internet to find things out.

My first port of call for English ancestors is findmypast.com. This site provides a number of important records that can be searched online and is very easy to use. It’s possible to search the Birth, Death and Marriage indexes from 1837 onwards. This gives you the information needed to order birth, marriage and death certificates from the General Register Office.

Another important resource from findmypast.com is searchable census records from 1841 through to 1911. These can be searched by name and address. The latter can be useful as Birth and Death certificates often give the actual address of the people involved and this address can be used in the census search if a name search is giving no luck.

Passenger lists for people leaving the UK from 1890 to 1960 are also available. This can give clues as to what ship ancestors used to get to New Zealand (or other places) and who they traveled with.

Although findmypast.com includes parish records from 1538 onwards I’ve not had much luck searching these. I assume not a lot of the parish records have been transcribed yet.

If you’re going to be doing a lot of research I recommend the subscription payment option. Paying ‘per record’ could get expensive and discourages exploring and following leads.

For a free alternative try the following sites:

The free alternatives don’t have as many records available as the non-free sites but are still very useful - and the search options are often more flexible. I tend to use both the free and findmypast.com sites.

For Scottish ancestry searches I use Scotlands People. This site has Birth, Death and Marriage lookups, Census records and Parish records. I have had great success searching this site. It does require payment and there is unfortunately no subscription option. These limits ‘browsing’. You really need to be specific and confident that the record you want to look up is the right one otherwise you’ll end up spending a fair bit of money.

An example of a Parish record obtained from Scotlands People is this record for Duncan Campbell, born 1726. Duncan is not an ancestor of mine but was the owner of the ship Bethia, which became the Bounty of ’Mutiny on the Bounty’ fame.

For Irish birth, death and marriage records I use the Irish Family History Foundation site. This is similar to Scotlands People in that you are charged per search and lookup. Again, being specific on searches cuts costs down.

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