I plan to be in thw UK during the week of March 7th for research on
the LOCHHEAD and DEMPSTER family from scotland. I would appreciate
some detailed pointers such as street addresses, copying rules etc
for the GRO in London as well as Edinburgh. I would also appreciate
knowinf where the other files are located!
If anyone wants me to look up some info please forward specific
dates and clues that you might have. Since I'll be the week I'll be glad
to do some legwork and save some money (and time)
BTW If Dorothy Boyd-Rush reads the message I would like to trade
correspondence on the DEMPSTER family. I've tried to send mesages
several times and they all bounce.
John A Hansen
>I plan to be in thw UK during the week of March 7th for research on
>the LOCHHEAD and DEMPSTER family from scotland. I would appreciate
>some detailed pointers such as street addresses, copying rules etc
>for the GRO in London as well as Edinburgh. I would also appreciate
>knowinf where the other files are located!
There are two locations for the Public Records Office of England and Wales.
Post-1700 records are outside of London at the archives in Kew, Richmond
Surrey. It's on Ruskin Ave. a few blocks walk from the Kew Gardens stop on the
District Line of the subway system. Pre-1700 records, plus census records on
microfilm, are at the main PRO on Chancery Lane in London. Take the Central
Line subway to the Chancery Lane stop, walk West on High Holburn and take your
first left onto Chancery Lane. The PRO is a block and a half down on the left.
You will need to get a readers ticket there before you can use the archives.
This ticket will also be good for the PRO at Kew. Pencils only. If you don't
have one you can buy one in the PRO bookstore and gift shop. There are small
lockers to leave your bags in as nothing may be brought inside.
The PRO at Chancery Lane has a room where you can eat your lunch, but there are
only a few vending machines. There are plenty of places between there and St.
Catherine's House to grab a quick bite, or a sit down lunch. The PRO at Kew
has a very nice cafeteria with a variety of options for lunch.
The General Register Office at St. Catherine's House is in a modern office
building a couple of blocks west of Chancery Lane at the corner of Aldwych and
Kingsway. Nearest tube stop is Aldwych on the Picadilly Line.
If you are researching a family that may have come from London you should not
overlook the Greater London Public Records Office. They have parish records
for many of the London churches. They also have Old Bailey and Newgate Gaol
records if you are looking for someone who was transported. The Guildhall
Library is also worth a visit.
Dennis J. Ahern | INTERNET: ah...@topdoc.enet.dec.com
Digital Equipment Corporation | US MAIL: 298 Central Street
Merrimack, New Hampshire | Acton, Mass. 01720
Researching Ahern & Lane in Co. Cork, Higgins & McAteer in Co. Antrim
Also: Oxton/Oxdon/Oxten/Oxden ENG>NC,MA>ME>ATA
NEW E-MAIL ADDRESS: hdc...@cc.umanitoba.ca
[Lots of good advice deleted]
> I hope some of you find this of use -- and I expect there is even a roots
> file with more info about UK research!
> Sharon Krossa, s.kr...@aberdeen.ac.uk
Let me add a recommendation that you get hold of a copy of the LDS Research
Guide for England - available both as a GENEALOG file I believe, and in
nicely printed form at a very low price from the LDS.
Dept. of Computing Science, University of Newcastle,
Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK
EMAIL = Brian....@newcastle.ac.uk PHONE = +44 91 222 7923
FAX = +44 91 222 8232
Good idea. In the meantime, and whilst waiting for volunteers, here are a
couple of other good UK sources:
a) The Society of Genealogists
a) The Society of Genealogists
If visiting the UK, you must visit here. It's at:
14 Charterhouse Buildings,
London EC1M 7BA
They are open most days (but phone first to check). Non members must
pay around 7 UK Pounds for a one-day entrance. This is a bargain.
The library is massive and occupies two floors of the building.
On a different floor is reception (with bookshop - lots of useful
leaflets and books), "The Great Card Index" and a room for microfilm/
microfiche reading. You book time on the microfilm reader (at reception)
on the day. (The microfiche readers are first-come-first-served.)
You can view the 1992 IGI, many parish registers from around the country,
and the indexes of births, marriages and deaths (the hardcopies of which
are held at St Catherine's House, London). They don't have the 1841 -
1891 Censuses (Censi?) on microfilm - you have to go to the Public
Records Office in Chancery Lane, London (or a County Records Office)
to see those.
The library is fantastic, but don't just start wandering along the
shelves - talk to one of the librarians for advice. The keys to
accessing the library are the card indexes (in wooden drawers). You
can look up what the Society holds on an individual family, what info
they hold on the Parish of ABC in the County of XYZ etc etc.
There are shelves of individual family histories (lodged there by
individual members over many years), shelves and shelves of various
genealogical books, sorted by county, army lists, marriage indexes
(pre 1837), and many many other things.
You won't manage to see everything in a single day (you waste the
first hour just gasping in amazement).
Wills must be the biggest genealogical bargain in the UK. Since the mid
1850s, all wills have been filed at Somerset House (Family Division),
London. (Note that Somerset House, St Catherines House and the Public
Records Office in Chancery Lane are within walking distance of each
other - the Society of Genealogists is a taxi ride away).
Why are wills a bargain? Well you can view a will on the day (they
just bring it up from the basement for you - and you give it back to
them when you've read it), or get a copy sent to you through the post.
In either case, the cost is a princely 0.25 UK Pounds per page (yes,
25 pence, and that includes postage). The great thing about wills
is that testators & testatrixes (...ices?) have a wonderful habit of
naming loads of relatives.
Before the 1850s, you will instead need to consult the relevant County
Records Office or the Public Records Office (PRO) in Chancery Lane. If
you visit the latter, it has many wills of before the 1850s on microfilm
(and in fact goes back several hundred years before that). I don't think
you can view the actual wills there and then, but you can order a copy
to be sent to you. As a matter of interest, I recently found at the PRO
the will of my direct ancestor John Marris the Elder of North Kelsey,
Lincolnshire (will probated in 1604). This particular will prints out at
around 6 pages of A3, is surprisingly ledgible and, happily, identifies
his wife, children and other relatives.
(1) you CAN look at microfilms of all the wills and administrations in the
Public Record Office collection on the day you arrive -- once you get your
Reader's Ticket, which is prepared on the spot, you can go to the search
room, consult the calendars (on the shelves) and then look up the
microfilm reel you want, which is on the open shelf. Proper indexes for only
part of this collection are available: printed indexes for all wills and
(I think) all admons up to 1700, and for all wills 1750-1800 (the last
part of this index was published by the Society of Genealogists just last
year). I keep hearing that there is a privately-held index to the
1700-1750 wills somewhere in England, but accounts differ, and in any case
the index is not available to the public. For the period not covered by
printed indexes, the calendars list the names, month by month by date of
probate, in separate lists for each letter of the alphabet -- thus all the
wills proved for people with names starting with "H" in the month of June
1748 will be listed together. This arrangement is a bit inconvenient,
since wills were not always proved in the same month as the person died,
and in addition, searching for one name in a series of non-alphabetized
lists is tedious.
What you see on the microfilms is the official copy made by the clerk.
The writing of some of these clerks is hard to read -- some of them seem
to have been trying to make all 26 letters look as much the same as
possible. There are original wills as well, but these have to be applied
for specially (they're in storage), and sometimes they turn out to be just
(2) But that's not all. The series of wills held by the Public Record
Office is those proved in the court of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the
highest court in the land -- the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. Anybody
could have a will proved there, but it was expensive, and well-to-do
people, or people with property in more than one Anglican diocese, were
most likely to do so. There are quite a few wills of people living in
"foreign parts", [abbreviated "Pts" in the calendars], including the
Many other wills, pre-1855, were proved in the courts of the different
Anglican dioceses. The Church of England (and the Catholic church
before the Reformation) controlled the probate of wills because it wished
to ensure that it knew of any bequests to itself. Wills of people living
in a particular diocese were likely to have their wills proved in the
local Bishop's court. These wills are to be found in particular county record
offices, or other places, and special guide books are needed to find out where
these collections are.
Several parishes in each county, and many of the parishes in the city of
London, were "covered" by other courts, some of which are called
"Peculiars". The wills proved in these other courts are again at other
locations, which you need to find out by reference to guide books. Most
of the older wills in these diocesan courts are covered by printed
indexes, and for the rest there are manuscript calendars, with microfilm
copies in various places, including the Society of Genealogists and the L.D.S.
Library at Salt Lake City.
The two standard guide books on wills are entitled "Wills and their
Whereabouts", and "Wills and Where to Find Them." I can't remember the
authors. They're both a bit out of date on record offices, but most of the
information in them is completely accurate.
All this means that before 1855, in England and Wales, a person's will has
to be searched for in more than one location, but you can always figure
out the likely locations if you look up the correct guide books.
For Scotland and Ireland the wills were handled separately. In Scotland,
the older wills were copied into register books belonging to the different
probate jurisdictions or Commissariots; these register books are at the
Scottish Record Office in Edinburgh. In Ireland, there was a system much
like the English one, with bishops' courts and a Prerogative Court of
Armagh, but essentially all the wills were destroyed in a fire during the
"Troubles" shortly before 1920. The calendars of the wills survived, and
there are some abstracts, but the wills are gone.
So what about a FAQ on U.K. (or maybe just English?) genealogy? Any
hdc...@cc.umanitoba.ca [NEW E-MAIL ADDRESS!!]
> Wills must be the biggest genealogical bargain in the UK. Since the mid
> 1850s, all wills have been filed at Somerset House (Family Division),
> Why are wills a bargain? Well you can view a will on the day (they
> just bring it up from the basement for you - and you give it back to
> them when you've read it), or get a copy sent to you through the post.
> In either case, the cost is a princely 0.25 UK Pounds per page (yes,
> 25 pence, and that includes postage).
This was news to me... sounds tremendous. How accurately do you have to
specify details of a will for them to track it down - for example if I
just have a name and date of death for an ancestor, will they go and hunt
for it? Or do you have to search through an index first as per St
Catherine's House when retreiving birth/marriage/death certificates?
JANET: D.M.P...@uk.ac.bristol INTERNET: D.M.P...@bristol.ac.uk
The system just goes to show how responsive a government can be when it
wants to - in this case, to help lawyers and those concerned with the
transfer of property, rather than genealogists. To be fair, it's much
easier to compile an annual index of wills than an index of all deaths,
since so many people never left wills, at least wills which received probate.
: This was news to me... sounds tremendous. How accurately do you have to
: specify details of a will for them to track it down - for example if I
: just have a name and date of death for an ancestor, will they go and hunt
: for it? Or do you have to search through an index first as per St
: Catherine's House when retreiving birth/marriage/death certificates?
It's like St Catherine's house but more civilised (friendlier, quieter,
less crowded, nicer environment).
The indexes are on open shelves in year/surname sequence (my mind has
gone blank - it may be year/quarter/surname sequence). Assuming you
visit in person, it's you (not they) who do the search. The indexes
are better than the Birth/Marriage/Death indexes at St Catherine's House
because, rather than just give minimal details (name, date, place), the
will indexes at Somerset House consist of several lines per entry.
They are genealogically useful in their own right.
It's a while since I visited there, but I recall that individual
entries give details of value (eg "estate < 50,000 pounds"), people
(eg names of executors - who were often close relatives), dates
(of death and of probate), and location details.
Unlike St Catherine's House, the complete set of will indexes from 1858
fit into a single room. Unless your surname is very common, you could
probably scan several decades of indexes in a few hours.
Because it's cheap, you can afford to spend money on a few long shots.
Just find an index entry that interests you, take the book to the counter
and fill in a form and you can get sight of the will in less than half
an hour (usually) - while waiting, you just continue your searches and
put in further requests. Or, if you know exactly what you want, you
may prefer just to order a photocopy and wait for it to arrive through
the post a few days later.
I DON'T KNOW what search-services Somerset House offers to people who
live to far away to visit. If anyone knows, perhaps they could post a
Minor quibble: that should be post-1858.
}alphabetical for the entire year, in the Somerset House reading room. You
}can help yourself to the volume you need. The index includes an
}abstract of the will, which as I recall includes date of death of testator,
}place of residence, some other vital data, approximate size of estate,
}names of executors, and principal heir(s).
The index doesn't contain an abstract of the will, it gives the probate
information: Name of deceased, address, date of death, place and date of
issue of Probate or Letters of Administration, name of executor(s), and
exact value of estate. Unfortunately, nothing on heirs.
}In other words, you do have to
}look up an index, but the index is far superior to the St. Catherines House
}indexes, where it's often impossible to tell whether you've found the right
}person. I've found that the index alone often gives enough information
}without actually calling for the will. In fact, if you're interested in
}the date of death of a person who probably left a will which was proved in
}England or Wales [post-1855, of course], I'd recommend searching the will
}index at Somerset House as a first step, rather than submitting to the
}difficult conditions and much larger indexes at St. Catherines House.
I agree. However, be warned that the year of each index is the year in which
probate was issued, which may be some time after the date of death. I have
seen a 40 year gap.
Alan M Stanier | William - William - John - William - William John -
al...@essex.ac.uk | William Edwin - Roger William - Alan Michael
+44 206 872153 | (research still in progress)
Older wills aren't quite as easy. It takes a while at the PRO to
figure out how to find a will (it helps to know the date of death
pretty precisely, as the indexes are by year and alphabetized only by
surname initial), but if they have what you want, you can order up the
microfilm right there. Take something else to do while you wait--not
too long, but it's frustrating to while away your valuable time just
twiddling your thumbs. Some microfilms are more legible than others.
I didn't find out how to get prints of the microfilms, but I think it
may be possible.
County record offices will let you look at the actual will. Really
neat to see your ancestor's Elizabethan signature after a list of his
furniture and livestock. Early wills can be any size and shape, from
long parchment rolls to little scraps of paper. The language tends to
be formulaic, which helps somewhat.
At the PRO, don't forget to check any lawsuits your ancestors may have
been involved in. Depositions by witnesses often give relationships
of the parties to the suit.
Before you start, practice reading the handwriting of the period you
are searching. The librarians are very nice about helping you to
decipher a problem or two, but they can't teach you how to read script
from 1603. After a while, you begin to recognize the idiosyncrasies
of the scribe, but some handwriting is very puzzling. I never did get
more than a few words of an Elizabethan document translated (couldn't
tell whether some of it was Latin or English, either).
Kathleen Much, Editor |E-mail: kath...@casbs.stanford.EDU
CASBS, 202 Junipero Serra Blvd. |Phone: (415) 321-2052
Stanford, CA 94305 |Fax: (415) 321-1192
Two small corrections: the indexes are actually by *month* of probate,
although 12 months are gathered together into a yearly volume. Thus
you have to look through 12 separate lists of "H"'s, say, before
you've searched the wills for a year.
Second, you don't have to "order up the microfilm" anymore - for the last few
years the microfilms have been on the open shelf, so you can help
yourself. There are plenty of microfilm readers, but no machines for
taking copies. There is a procedure for ordering copies, which take a
few days to produce, so for a visitor it's best to arrange to receive
them by mail. The copies are rather expensive.
>County record offices will let you look at the actual will.
Some may take this to mean that the PRO has microfilms of the same wills
as are at the county record offices, which of course is not the case. I
posted some information about the whereabouts of wills on another thread a
week or so ago, but to repeat, wills pre-1858 could be proved in the
Prerogative Court of Canterbury (these are the wills held at the PRO) or at
a lower court, usually the court of the Bishop of the diocese where the
testator held property. These latter wills are held at various county and
other record offices, and you need specialized guide books to determine
where these are. The earlier calendars of wills proved in these courts,
and also the calendars of wills proved in the Prerogative Court of
Canterbury up to 1700, and for the period 1750-1800, have been indexed
properly, that is, fully alphabetically, and printed. There are microfilms of
the parts of the calendars that haven't been printed, at Salt Lake City and
(in the case of the provincial record offices) at the Society of
>At the PRO, don't forget to check any lawsuits your ancestors may have
>been involved in. Depositions by witnesses often give relationships
>of the parties to the suit.
What lawsuits are you referring to? The Court of Chancery suits? If so,
a more detailed explanation would be useful. I have no experience with
these myself, but I don't think that using these records is trivial.
>Before you start, practice reading the handwriting of the period
>you are searching. The librarians are very nice about helping you to
>decipher a problem or two, but they can't teach you how to read script
>from 1603. After a while, you begin to recognize the idiosyncrasies
>of the scribe, but some handwriting is very puzzling. I never did get
>more than a few words of an Elizabethan document translated (couldn't
>tell whether some of it was Latin or English, either).
The Society of Genealogists has short courses on reading old handwriting.
Another approach is to get a photocopy of the document, and work through
it like Champollion deciphering the Rosetta Stone. Even getting a
document the right way up can be a challenge if you're not used to the
writing. There are also booklets available with samples of old handwriting
- the Society of Genealogists sells such a booklet. Handwriting after
about 1650 is not such a problem - the capital letters can be hard to
distinguish, lower case "s" looks like "f", and lower case "e" was turned
around so it is often misread as "o". There are abbreviations like "ye"
for "the" and "yt" for "that". These problems fade out after about 1710 or
so - a bit later in the countryside.
There seems to be a tremendous amount of duplication in recent postings on
soc.roots about U.K. records. Clearly several readers have useful
information to share, but I think we really do need a FAQ, or some document
outlining the important topics.
: There seems to be a tremendous amount of duplication in recent postings on
: soc.roots about U.K. records. Clearly several readers have useful
: information to share, but I think we really do need a FAQ, or some document
: outlining the important topics.
Agreed. (How does one organise a FAQ on the Usenet?)
There are two questions here:
(i) where to keep the files. The answer is simple - with all the other FAQ
files in the ROOTS-L FILELIST for LISTSERV@NDSUVM1
(ii) what are the Usenet conventions which help people find FAQ files. I'm
afraid I don't recall the answer to this, but the keeper of the FAQs in the
ROOTS-L Files, Charles R. Dennett (den...@COM.Kodak), can I'm sure help on
Turning to the idea of a FAQ on UK research, I agree that this would be
useful, but I think it should definitely avoid trying to duplicate the info
in the relevant LDS Research guide, which after all is available on-line.
Rather it should point people at that guide, explain what it contains, and
then add whatever is thought appropriate in the way of further information,
e.g. relating to information (such as the 5% 1851 Census samples) that is
I first found out about depositions at the Society of Genealogists, in
the Great Card Index. It has been a while, but I think I got a list
of references to take to the PRO, where I then looked them up in the
large printed indexes. I ordered the documents, a few at a time (3?),
and then tried to read enough of them to determine whether they were
really my family or just a similar surname. So far, only one of a
dozen or so has panned out, but it contained depositions giving family
relationships for five generations of TARRANTs in Hampshire in the
late 16th--early 17th century. It was a Chancery document, but others
were Exchequer. I found the librarians at the PRO to be extremely
So, I found an entry, e.g., "W Surnames, Bundle 43: No.16 - Whatsisname".
Is there anything I can do with this index by mail or film in the U.S.?
--- Ralph in Los Angeles
Ralph Clark (cl...@soldev.tti.com) or try (clark%tti...@NDSUVM1.Bitnet)
I think it would be much more difficult, as I don't remember
seeing any alphabetical index files. Some of the large reference
volumes in the Round Room have indexes, but as I recall, the books
cover only a short period each, so you would have to do a lot of
looking. Sorry my memory isn't better. Maybe someone who has used
the PRO more recently can help.
On this same subject, does anyone know where the RESULTS of the
Chancery and Exchequer suits can be found? I have found some lovely
depositions in 17th-century suits, but there is no indication of how
the suits turned out. Maybe one of our British lawyer readers can
point me to the judicial decisions.