Whistler Family Sources

Whistler Family Sketches homepage

Family History Sources

    With a focus on the English counties of Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, and London.

Births, Marriages, Deaths
In England and Wales, a national system of registration of births, marriages and deaths began in July 1837. The free BMD (Births, Marriages and Deaths) project gives online access to the quarterly indexes of these registered events.
Online search and ordering is available at the General Register Office.

Before 1837 parish registers must be consulted.
A system for recording weddings, baptisms and burials in parish registers began in 1538 during the reign of King Henry VIII.

Searchable indexes compiled from parish registers (with partial coverage only):
      FamilySearch Historical Records,
      A guide to the content is the FamilySearch Guide by Archer Software.
      (Old version: the International Geneaological Index (IGI) of baptisms and marriages;
              the Hugh Wallis guide: IGI Batch Numbers
).

Collections built-up by volunteer contributors:
      FreeREG, UK Free REGisters
      Find A Grave

Family history online databases (pay-for-view):
      Ancestry
      FindMyPast || List of United Kingdom Records
          (British Origins records moved to FindMyPast in 2014)
      TheGenealogist || BMDregisters: non-conformist records and more
      ~~~   more databases   ~~~
      Deceased Online: burials

Family history societies with projects for transcribing and indexing parish registers:
      Berkshire Family History Society
      Hampshire Genealogical Society
      Oxfordshire Family History Society

Some library collections:
      The Society of Genealogists, London || SoG Data Online
      Oxfordshire History Centre, Cowley, Oxford
            (merger of the Oxfordshire Record Office and Oxfordshire Studies).

As a general rule, the original parish records should be checked.
Some online databases include digitized images of parish registers.
For more research, some archives and record offices:
      Berkshire Record Office, Reading
      Hampshire Record Office, Winchester
      London Metropolitan Archives, London
      City of Westminster Archives, London

Census Returns
Census returns provide a fascinating view of the members of a household and their community. In England, the 1841 census was the first to collect detailed family information. A census followed every ten years. Online access to census returns is offered by the National Archives (previously named the Public Record Office) and the family history website: Ancestry.

Nostalgia: The "old" method of access to census returns was by searching from microfilm copies at the Family Records Centre in Islington, London. This centre was closed in March 2008 and its services transferred to the National Archives in Kew in West London. A useful reference source was the Hampshire Genealogical Society Record Series name indexes, by census parish, for the 1851 census.

Directories
Directories provide information about the businesses and the variety of occupations of people in a community. A digital archive of directories, that can be browsed online, is available in the Ancestry online databases:
      London Directories, London Metropolitan Archives; and
      UK, City and County Directories, (includes some London directories).
FindMyPast has the collection:
      Britain, directories & almanacs

The annual Post Office London directories (the Ancestry collection begins in 1801) have a number of sections including:

  • The Commercial Directory gives names with business addresses and occupations.
  • The Trades Directory gives business listings by type of trade.
  • The Street Directory shows the shops and businesses, with the names of their proprietors, by street.

London addresses can be tricky – streets were renamed and houses renumbered. An excellent guide is London Street name changes.

Note: The Ancestry collection of directories is an updated version of Historical Directories (University of Leicester Special Collections).

Wills
Wills can provide an informative record of family relationships.

For people who died in or after 1858: Search for Wills (England and Wales)

For wills made before the legal reforms of 1858, locating a will is not routine.
A guide is: "A practical guide to using wills for family history," Berkshire Family Historian, December 2001.
The Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) was the senior probate court for wills of relatively wealthy people living in the south of England.
The Snell Berskhire collection at the library of the Society of Genealogists, London, includes name indexes and abstracts of Berkshire wills proved in the PCC for the years 1391–1737. A guide is: "Description of the Snell Collection," Berkshire Family Historian, September 2000.

    Glossary of Terms for Wills, Surrey Plus Wills Index
    Glossary of Probate Terms, FindMyPast
    Terms of settlements, University of Nottingham

Online resources for wills:
    National Archives online records: PCC Wills 1384–1858
    Berkshire Probate Index (prepared by the BerksFHS, FindMyPast database)
    Hampshire Record Office (search the online catalogue)
    Wiltshire Wills, 1530–1858 (Ancestry database)
    Oxfordshire Wills 1516–1857 (FindMyPast database) || Transcribed Wills
    The National Archives of Ireland

An administration (abbreviation admin or admon), issued when no will had been made, appointed one or more persons, usually next-of-kin, to administer the deceased's estate.
    PCC Administrations, 1660–1700 (FindMyPast database)


    Assorted Links

UK Archives     UK Archives Discovery: online catalogue for
    The National Archives and
    the former UK Access to Archives (A2A)
UK Parliamentary Archives
Oxfordshire Heritage Search
Essex Archives
Jersey Archives
Waltham Forest Archives, Walthamstow
Canada Archives Library and Archives Canada
British Columbia Archives
Data Online The Clergy of the Church of England Database
History of Parliament: biographies of Members of Parliament
The Old Bailey
The Records of London's Livery Companies (ROLLCO)
London Lives
Newspapers Online   The British Newspaper Archive
London Gazette
The Guardian and Observer Digital Archive
Last Chance to Read
Pictures Online     Geograph British Isles
The National Heritage List for England
Historic England
The Wellcome Library: image database
University of Reading Virtual Reading Room
    London:
London Picture Archive (formerly named Collage)
Tower Hamlets: digital gallery
Lambeth Landmark
History Online British History
Connected Histories: British History Sources, 1500–1900
Oxoniensia
Mayors of Oxford by Stephanie Jenkins
Thames Valley Papists by Tony Hadland
Royal Berkshire & May Family by David Nash Ford
BBC History: English Civil War
London Libraries The British Library
The Wellcome Library for the History of Medicine
Institute of Historical Research
Guildhall Library || Archives
Maps Maps – Online Maps to Everywhere
Charles Booth’s Poverty Maps of London
Goad’s Fire Insurance Maps, British Library
Valuation Office Maps, The National Archives
    (also see The Genealogist)
The British Historic Towns Atlas
Maps for Family History, National Library of Scotland
    (reviewed in the Family History Federation Really Useful Bulletin, Jan 2022).
More Family History Federation || Really Useful Bulletin
GENUKI – UK and Ireland genealogy
Abebooks – New and Used Books


    Miscellaneous Notes

Dates:   Discussion is at the Wikipedia page Old Style and New Style Dates.

Spelling:
Standard spelling is somewhat recent. Therefore, a variety of spelling variations of names may appear in historical records. That is, spelling variations may have no official meaning.

Reading Old Handwriting:
Transkribus, a platform for the transcription of historical documents
(reviewed in the Berkshire Family History Society in touch newsletter, September 2021).


Revision Date: 2022.

The background is the Strawberry Thief pattern by the great Victorian designer
William Morris (William Morris Gallery).