Monday, 25 October 2010

London Parish Records Uncovered - Part 1

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!

Rosemary Morgan
London Roots Research

Friday, 22 October 2010

West Surrey Family History Society Open Day - Saturday 6th November

As a keen London researcher living in Guildford, I shall be attending the West Surrey Family History Society Open Day and Family History Fair on Saturday 6th November, being held at the Woking Leisure Centre.  Further details are available here

London related stalls will include:  Southwark Family History, East Surrey FHS, London Westminster & Middlesex FHS, West Middlesex FHS, British Records Association and London Family History Centre.
Much of what is now part of the Greater London was previously part of Surrey, and therefore covered by the East Surrey and West Surrey Family History Societies.  So for people researching London ancestors who lived south of the river, for example in Lambeth or Southwark, these two societies can be useful sources of information. 

Some very useful finding aids for researching Surrey ancestors, including Metropolitan Surrey, can be found on CD's produced by the West Surrey Family History Society. A full list of these indices can be found here.  Copies of some of these have been deposited at the Surrey History Centre, also located in Woking and containing archives relating to both Metropolitan and Rural Surrey.

Finally, nearby is the Brookwood Cemetery, the largest cemetery in Britain, which was laid out in 1854 in order to provide burial facilities for Londoners for the next 500 years.  The graves of many Londoners can be found here.

Altogether several reasons for those with London ancestors to make a trip to Woking - and I hope to see some of you there!

Rosemary Morgan
London Roots Research

Friday, 1 October 2010

East India Company - Events in East London 2nd - 10th October

Do you have ancestors who were involved with the East India Company?

An East India Company Exhibition opens next week at the Mile End Arts Pavilion, Ashcroft Road, London E3 5TW.  The event (free) is being organised by the Brick Lane Circle, a voluntary organisation supporting the Bangladeshi community in the UK and can be seen from Monday 4th - Sunday 10th October.

There are also a couple of associated walks taking place this weekend - advance booking necessary (07574224891 or email:

  • Saturday 2 October 2010, 3-5 pm, called City of London and West End, by Nick Robins (author of The Corporation that Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational)
  • Sunday 3 October 2010, 2-4 pm, called Invisible Empire and East India Company Dockside by Dr Georgie Wemyss (author of The Invisible Empire: White Discourse, Tolerance and Belonging)

For readers who would like to find out more about the East India Company, a large number of records from the East India Company (and its successor the India Office) can be found at the British Library in London (and not ias with most govenrment records). The catalogue is searchable online in the Access to Archives catalogues. Many of these records have been made available online via the Families of the British India Society (FIBIS), who also have a members' only database.  A full list of FIBIS available records can be found here.

The National Archives also has several relevant records, especially for those in the military. It also has cabinet papers relating to Empire, Indian independence etc.

The subscription site FindMyPast has a useful description of British India Records and further records available to subscribers only.

Thanks to Emma Jolly for alerting me to these events and for clarifying some of the above.  Emma is a genealogist at Genealogic, and a British Library approved researcher for the Asia, Pacific and African collections, who is working on a new book on the British in India.  Her website has a further list of relevant record sources here.

Rosemary Morgan
London Roots Research

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