If you are starting out in the search for London ancestors, you may think that they can all be found in one place, as is the case with County Record Offices for example. Well think again!
Many genealogists and family history researchers will have seen the recent announcement by Ancestry that they have completed transcribing their London Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538–1812.
Although Ancestry's statement that "This mammoth collection covers vital events in parishes all over Greater London....." is technically correct, it is also slightly misleading. Ancestry has transcribed parish records from the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) only and they have not yet all been indexed!
So if you cannot find an ancestor in the Ancestry indices, you should first look and see if the parish concerned has been transcribed but not yet indexed - you can browse the full list for 1538-1812 here. (Later records are available separately as either births and baptisms, marriages and banns or deaths and burials.) Secondly, look and see if the parish records concerned do not originate in LMA, in which case you will need to look elsewhere.
One of the major series of Parish records NOT in the LMA (London Metropolitan Archives) and therefore not on Ancestry is the City of Westminster, which can be found in the Westminster City Archives. This archive covers a much larger area than what we currently think of as Westminster, extending into parts of Paddington, Marylebone, Knightsbridge, Kensington, and as far east as Regent's Street and the Strand. So if you can't find your London ancestors on Ancestry (or in the LMA), don't forget to check this other valuable resource! Most of these records have been transcribed on the IGI although the originals are not yet online.
There are also a few London parishes whose records are kept elsewhere, for example, the Royal chapel registers are held at St James' Palace, some chapel registers are held at TNA (the National Archives) and a few are still with the incumbent parishes.
Finally if you are close to London - or planning to visit - there are other London repositories where you can find collections of London Parish records, including the Society of Genealogists in Farringdon and the London Family History Centre (formerly the Hyde Park Family History Centre) in Kensington.
I hope this starts to sort out some of the confusion surrounding London parishes. I will be continuing to post more blogs on London family history records and am also planning to start a series of occasional blogs on individual parishes - so watch this space!
London Roots Research