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RootsWeb's Guide to Tracing Family Trees
Guide No. 28:  Ethnic Roots


 


Tracing English and Welsh ancestors
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If your English or Welsh ancestors were born in 1837 or later, it is fairly easy to trace your roots to and in the "old country" — thanks to the national civil registration. Of course, identifying your ancestor among many with the same name can be both the challenge and the fun.

Since July 1, 1837, it has been required that every birth, death, and marriage be registered with the central government. This means there is only one place you need to look for one of these records. However, there were no penalties for not registering prior to 1875, so compliance between 1837 and 1875 was not 100 percent. Events were registered at a local public records office, which retained a copy, so each record should be available in both the local and the central records office.

The records are indexed by type, and then by name. Indexes are produced quarterly. The Family History Library (FHL) has microfilm copies of the civil registration indexes of all births, marriages, and deaths for England and Wales through 1980. However, the library does not have any actual civil registration certificates, but it may have the church baptism, marriage, or burial records for the same time period. The actual certificates must be ordered from England and currently cost about $16 each.

Major sources you can use for tracing English and Welsh ancestors are:

Census and parish records are arranged geographically so you must know where your ancestors resided at specific time periods. The Civil Registration is nationwide, but unless the surname is most unusual, you will probably need to know at least the county to be sure you have the right person. The only major geographical change affecting genealogical research for England and Wales is the one whereby the counties were restructured in 1974. Genealogy records are filed by old county boundaries, so the use of a pre-1974 map is needed. Parishes corresponded closely to the villages of the same name. A rural parish may include a village and two or three hamlets. In larger cities there will be several churches so it will be necessary to determine in which parish your family lived.

If your ancestor was still living in England or Wales in 1851 and you know where he or she was living, try the 1851 census. It will reveal the birth place. These records have been filmed and are available at the Family History Library. Check the British IGI (International Genealogical Index) at FamilySearch for all your surnames, as many of England's parish records have been entered into this data base. The British IGI also will reveal in which localities your surname(s) were prevalent

Clues to your family's history are often found in overlooked places. Be sure to search among your family's papers for:

Once you have exhausted the resources of the Family History Library, there may be additionally records in England that you would want to examine, either personally or via a hired researcher. The Public Record Office has many records that are not available elsewhere. The Society of Genealogists in London also has many published family histories and the largest collection of transcribed parish registers. Each county in England has its own record office and they often have additional land, church, taxation, and other records that you will not find elsewhere.


RootsWeb's Mailing Lists provide excellent ways to find and share information about your ancestors and the localities in which they once lived. Use both surnames and localities for best results.

How to Subscribe and Unsubscribe to RootsWeb's Mailing Lists

It's easy — just click on the list you want. When the "mail-to" window pops up, write just the single word "subscribe" in the body of the message. That's all.

If you want to unsubscribe from a list, click on it and write just the single word "unsubscribe" in the body of the message.

All RootsWeb Mailing Lists also have a Digest Mode option. New lists are added continually. Check the index for up-to-date information.


England

Isle-of-Man

Wales (Map)

 


Genealogy
in Australia
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RootsWeb's Australia-connected Mailing Lists

How to Subscribe and Unsubscribe

It's easy — just click on the list you want. When the "mail-to" window pops up, write just the single word "subscribe" in the body of the message. That's all.

If you want to unsubscribe from a list, click on it and write just the single word "unsubscribe" in the body of the message

All RootsWeb Mailing Lists also have a Digest Mode option. New lists are added continually. Check the index for up-to-date information.

 


New Zealand

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Mailing Lists

 


South Pacific Islands
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PacificGenWeb   Includes links to: AustraliaGenWeb, MelanesiaGenWeb, MicronesiaGenWeb, PolynesiaGenWeb, and others.

Mailing Lists

 


India

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Family History in India for those tracing British, European and Anglo-Indian families in India, Burma, Pakistan and Bangladesh. This includes histories of some British Army regiments that served in India during colonial times, links to other regimental history Web sites, rolls of members of some regiments that served in India, and the diary of a soldier who served in India in the Green Howards.

Mailing List

 


South Africa
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South Africa Mailing Lists


Additional Resources


Links in this Guide
(in order they appeared)

English and Wales Section

Australian and New Zealand Sections

South Pacific Islands Section

India-Burma-Pakistan-Bangladesh Section

South African Section

Additional Resources Section