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    The County Records Office is the place where you will find your primary evidence - a myriad of documents which will be useful in your research.

    This Records Office Guide will explain what is likely to be found there and how it is going to be useful.

    County Record Offices (CRO) are the main repositories for archived records specifically relating to the local area they serve. ...

    These days, the advent of the Internet and digital resources has enabled family historians to carry out much of their initial research online.

    This guide aims to give an outline of the main resources available and "Hints and Tips" based on how some of the members have carried out their own research online.

    Certificates form an important part of genealogical research.
    Without them it is difficult to prove relationships and dates with accuracy, and there comes a time when you will need to order certificates to enable your research to continue.
    This section will help you find out all about certificates and how to go about obtaining them.


    Alongside the personal details of your families, one of the most useful sets of documents for you will be the Census Returns.

    The census is one of the most useful sets of records available. Placing an ancestor with their parents and siblings when they are young, or finding them in later life with a spouse and children are just a few of the things that can be discovered.

    This guide will give you more information on using these valuable sources of evidence for your research.

    Parish registers were started in England in 1538. A law was passed ordering the clergy to record baptisms, marriages and burials, and that they should be written down in a book after the service on Sundays, and in the presence of the Churchwardens.

    Before this date there were no records, except for a few created by monks who recorded the events for prominent families. ...

    Wills may mention dead ancestors, pregnant wives, married daughters, grandchildren .... you have a snapshot of circumstances when the will was made, not when the testator died.

    You cannot tell how much detail a will may contain until you’ve read it. A will may be the only document to link branches of the family living in different counties, particularly after 1901. What a will does not tell you is someone’s full fortune. Land is generally not mentioned in wills. Conversely, some people's wills totalled more than their assets!

    Before 1928, the right to vote depended on ownership of property, gender and age. Before 1832, the right to vote varied between constituencies. In county constituencies, it was held by every freeholder who possessed land worth forty shillings per annum. In the boroughs, the franchise could be very narrow.

    Finding individuals can be very difficult as there was no set procedure for recording the voters and there have been many boundary changes over the years.

    County, Regional, Town, City or Trade Directories provide us with valuable detail for 19th and 20th Century research.

    Directories list people/occupations and addresses. They can be searched usually by location, decade and/or key word. Not all directories are searchable by all methods. In earlier directories, only notable members of the community may be listed.

    Even if your ancestor was an agricultural labourer and not a landowner, there is much information to be found in the surviving records dealing with the ownership and tenancy of land.

    The manor embodied the 'government' of the local community in medieval times. It not only dealt with tenancy, but also often functioned as a local court of law for routine offences.


    Maps enable you to place your ancestors in context geographically, from the early tithe maps to the advent of the Ordnance Survey maps.

    N.B. This page only contains links to sites with historical maps. Maps from the present day or for specific localities will be found on the appropriate page of the UK County Index .

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