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Research Offers: What does the volunteer need to know?


  • Research Offers: What does the volunteer need to know?

    If you request a lookup, or photograph, please be sure to read the Terms and Conditions on Research Offers & Requests: Guidelines

    Record Office Lookups
    • It is wise to check the IGI or links found in the UK County Index before asking for a lookup in an English/Welsh/Scottish county. If the event took place after 1st July 1837 then a certificate or more information could be located using online BMDs, for example from FreeBMD or UKBMD.
    • Some people volunteer to do photocopies of BMDs and Burials but these can become expensive for the person offering, so please only ask if you are prepared to send payment in advance. Large A3 copies are sometimes as much as £1 each, A4 copies 50p each.


    Information required:
    • Event
    • Parish in which event took place
    • Surname
    • Year (at least) - please remember that it requires a lot of time and patience to trawl through an entire year.

    With the above information, you are likely to get hundreds of results and any one of them could be yours, so the following information is also useful:
    • Month of event (or quarter - if information gained from Indexes)
    • Person's First Name (if poss)
    • Actual date event took place (if known)
    • Father's Name - for births and marriages (to help clarify the results)
    • Mother's First Name and/or Maiden Name (if known) - for births.


    Information required:
    • Name of Parish
    • First and Surname of deceased
    • Month or actual date they were known to have died.

    A search can be done from the beginning of the month or the actual date of death. The Parish Records are usually searched for up to 6/8 weeks after date of death in case of Inquest etc.

    Electoral Rolls

    These are not always readily available to the public. Some have to be ordered from the vaults and can take up to an hour to arrive in the RO. Electoral Rolls are sectioned into Polling Districts, then into Parishes and then Streets within each Parish are in alphabetical order. Electoral Rolls are searched using an ADDRESS.

    Information required:
    • Year
    • Address to be checked
    • If you are hoping to find a particular family at a certain address please give the SURNAME of the family and possible Forenames as well
    • Sometimes, the family was living 4 houses down, or across the road, so the street can be searched if a Surname is available.
    • Please do not ask anyone to search an entire Parish/Polling District. It would take hours and hours and a family may NOT be found.

    Trade Directories
    • Please note: Some transcriptions are available online.
    • Trade Directories are not always readily available to the public. Some have to be ordered from the vaults and can take up to an hour to arrive in the RO.
    • The business ADDRESS is required and possibly a Surname plus Forename of Trader, together with type of business, if known.

    Cemetery/Churchyard Lookups/Photographs

    There is a difference between a cemetery and a churchyard. Cemeteries are distinguished from other burial grounds by their location in that they are not always near to a place of worship. A graveyard, on the other hand, is located in a churchyard.

    Most large cemeteries have offices on location, the larger the cemetery, the higher and more frequent the staffing levels. Some also have websites on the internet, with opening/closing times etc., together with a phone number that you can ring to gain further information.

    Locating a grave is not always an easy task and the bigger and older the cemetery the longer this takes, sometimes hours. However, it can take as little as 10 minutes for the grave to be located with the correct information to hand. Most cemeteries have a Burial Register and a map of the cemetery – you will find a reference number against the deceased person's details which will help locate the burial place.

    Reference and grave numbers can be obtained by contacting the Council Offices (Bereavement Services) in the district the death took place or by contacting the current Vicar/Rector/Priest of said cemetery/graveyard.

    The referencing of graves is different in each county and cemetery. Some cemeteries have records going back centuries whilst others only started indexing the graves during the last 100 years. Some have only been recently indexed, often by volunteer members of the congregation, with the majority of the graves being 'unknown' due to time wearing away the information on remaining headstones or the total absence of a headstone.

    With the new safety rules, many cemeteries have been locating 'broken' or 'dangerous' headstones and removing them for safety reasons. Some are just simply laid down on the grave, others are removed to a safer place within the cemetery, and a few are removed from the site altogether.

    If you are asking for a 'resting place' to be found, then please try to get as much information as possible before asking someone to go and look for you. It is useful if you can provide the grave plot number and a map.


    When requesting photos of graves, the volunteer taking a picture on your behalf can only do so if they find the grave in question, using the information you supply to them, and only if there is some evidence that a resting place is in situ, i.e. a grave or headstone to actually photograph.

    You may just get a photograph of where the grave once was - today it could be a well manicured lawn or an over grown patch of land near an old Yew Tree, depending when the original burial took place.

    Members may also wish to request photographs of churches, buildings, memorials etc. In the case of churches please check the Places of Worship Project to make sure that a photograph is not already available.

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