What does it mean to have “English” ancestry? Of all the heritages and ethnicities that came together in the melting pot of the United States population, English ancestry is unique. England gave us our language, of course, and even as the fledgling United States broke away from “Mother England,” we retained many of the customs of that country across the Atlantic.
Whether your English ancestors arrived in colonial times or much later, there’s never been a better time to explore those roots. Here are some of the best sites for English research. You’ll note that many of these sites require a subscription fee or payment for access to actual records (indicated by a $).
Here are some key sites for your English research:
- FamilySearch <www.familysearch.org>: We’ll mention this site from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) again when we discuss the resources available at the Family History Library (FHL) and your local Family History Center. But it’s worth a visit beyond its online FHL catalog and extremely useful help files. Among important English resources here are the International Genealogical Index <familysearch.org/search/collection/igi>, covering Vital and church records from the early 1500s to 1885, many from England; censuses for England and Wales for the years 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911; 69 million records of England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975; and 15 million records of England Deaths and Burials, 1538-1991. FamilySearch has also embarked on an ambitious program of digitizing and indexing other records, notably parish records that are listed by county. Even if you didn’t find your ancestors here before, it’s worth checking back frequently to search newly added records.
- Ancestry.com <www.ancestry.com> $: In addition to all English censuses, Ancestry’s extensive offerings include birth, marriage and death indexes from 1916 on, immigration and military records, and the National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966. Note that some of its databases are free to access, including the 1881 census and the indexes from the FreeBMD site (see below).
- Find My Past <www.findmypast.com> $: Probably the most extensive site focusing on UK genealogy, Find My Past offers parish records dating from 1538, more than 24 million passenger lists, vital record indexes from 1837 to 2006, and the complete UK census collection (1841 to 1911).
- FreeBMD <freebmd.rootsweb.com>: More than 214 million transcribed UK Civil Registration records of births, marriages and deaths from 1837 to 1983 can be searched for free at this tireless volunteer site. Sibling sites serve up equally free UK censuses <www.freecen.org.uk> (almost 21 million) and parish records <www.freereg.org.uk> (more than 19 million marriages, baptisms and burials).
- National Archives–UK <www.nationalarchives.gov.uk>: Search for records about your British ancestors in the archives’ catalog of 11 million government documents including those of criminal trials, medieval taxes and family history. If you can’t find answers at the main archives, the Access to Archives search <www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2> lets you comb more than 400 other record offices and repositories.
- GENUKI <www.genuki.org.uk>: Everything you need to know about GENealogy in the UK and Ireland can be found under this umbrella site: church history, heraldry, land records, manors, occupations, poorhouses, tax records, even how to decipher your ancestors’ handwriting.
- Origins Network <www.origins.net> $: This British Isles subscription site specializes in unusual, hard-to-find, older records, including 500 years of will indexes.
- Historical Directories <www.historicaldirectories.org/hd/index.asp>: This recently site from the University of Leicester is a digital library of local and trade directories for England and Wales, from 1750 to 1919. You can find the directory you want by location, decade or keyword.
- Archives.com <www.archives.com> $: Databases include UK census and vital-records images.
World Vital Records <www.worldvitalrecords.com> $: Here you’ll find 116 million names from UK censuses and vital records.
Find your Anglo ancestors
Today, an estimated 25 million Americans can claim English ancestry. We think of English arrivals in America as dating to the Mayflower and Jamestown, and it’s true that England supplied a majority of the colonial population. But even into the first half of the 19th century, English immigrants trailed only Germans and Irish in the US. Learn the ins and outs of English records, both in the US and England, and trace your roots back to Britain in this new 4-week course.
What You’ll Learn:
Historical background on England, English immigrants, and how this may have effected your ancestors
How to explore US sources such as vital records, census records, church records, and others to track down your Anglo family
What to look for in naturalization records, customs lists, passenger lists and other emigration records
Key resources for searching within England, with strategies such as using maps and gazetteers, English-American genealogical organizations and more
Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to find the English in your family line!
Sign up today.