Churchill and Tritton’s 2015 Course

Churchill and Tritton’s 2015 Course

Researching Your English Ancestors

Level: Beginner to Advanced


Prerequisites:  None


Course Outline:

This is a course designed to explore the English records necessary to successfully identify and compile your family history. Else Churchill, Genealogist, Society of Genealogists, London, and Alec Tritton, Chairman, Halsted Trust, will discuss how to find your ancestors in census returns, civil registration, newspapers, church records and other extant parish documents, census substitutes, and electoral records. They will explore probate records, passenger lists, genealogical reference works, and various London resources as well as 17th century problems and solutions to include the manor.
Day 1
Where did they live?
Understanding England’s administrative units – counties, cities, towns and boroughs and parishes. Boundary changes, census and civil registration districts, poor law unions. Hundreds. Manors and landed estates. The established church and its diocesan hierarchy. Topographical, county and parish maps.  FamilySearch 1851 jurisdictions project, one-place studies.
Everybody’s registered – Victorian registration of vital events and official census returns
The concurrent registration of birth, marriages, and deaths from 1837 and the decennial censuses from 1841 are the building blocks of English genealogy. This talk will explain how to search these records online, order a certified copy and consider what information can and can’t be found.
19th Century newspapers, 18th Century journals  & local directories
The British Library’s online digitization of 19th century newspapers has opened up so many new avenues for genealogical and biographical discovery that they should often be considered the first step in your research. Whether you are looking for obituaries, discovering that your ancestors were victims of petty crime or died a gory death; the color and social history illustrated by the newspaper reports will greatly add to your genealogy. Tradesmen, professionals, and the burgeoning middle classes read prolifically and the early periodicals such as the Gentleman’s Magazine and local directories can often provide fascinating clues.
Electoral records and poll books
While universal suffrage wasn’t introduced into England until the early 20th Century, the records of those who voted in Parliamentary elections from the 1690s and throughout the long 18th century can be very useful name lists. Subsequently records of who was entitled to vote and voter lists have become extremely useful supplementary records, especially where no census is available.
Day 2
Probate records before and after 1858
An understanding of how to find wills and related documents for England and Wales. It will look at how to best make use of sources online, in the Family History Library and still held within local record offices in England and Wales.
Church registers
The records of baptisms, marriages and burials in the parishes where your ancestors lived remain the prime sources for pre 1837 research. The records are not always easy to find or use, not all are online or indexed and there is no one single place to look but this talk will provide useful grounding on using and locating these vital records.
Other parish documents
The parish played such a varied and important role in the lives of our ancestors that it is useful to establish if other records generated by the various officers of the parish can supplement the parish registers.
Outside the church – nonconformist records
By 1851 it was estimated that some 50% of church attendance was outside the established Church of England. So what are the signs that your ancestor may not have conformed? How were they treated? Where else can you look if they aren’t in the parish registers? 
Day 3
Supplementary name lists and census substitutes
Name-rich sources showing that an ancestor lived in a particular place at a particular time can supplement the parish records. Local records are a most important source and should always be looked for – and now more and more are becoming available online and away from the local record office.
London problems and solutions
Tracing London ancestors in a burgeoning city is a challenge. This talk explains what is meant by London, the unique records for the City and what we now recognise as Greater London. We will suggest some problems of locating a marriage and burial record and why these records can be difficult to find.
County records – JPs petty and quarter sessions
The Justices of the Peace undertook considerable administrative duties as well as dealing with local justice and criminals. Hence the sessions minutes and act books held in county record offices provide invaluable information about alehouse keepers, badgers, debtors and insolvent persons, gamekeepers, electors, jurors and freeholders, oath-takers, papists, freemasons, prisoners and taxpayer. 
Criminal records and transportation 
Criminal registers and calendars of prisoners, gaol deliveries and indictments from assize and other common law courts provide some background information on transportation to America and later to Australia.
Day 4
Passenger lists and records of migration
While more information can generally be found in the places of arrival than departure there are some glimpses of migrants to be found in official English records. This session will consider the published literature and useful sources in major repositories and online.
What research has been done before? Essential biographical and genealogical reference works
This session will look at the resources of the Society of Genealogists, printed and unpublished pedigrees and online resources.
Apprenticeships before 1850 in the city, borough, and parish
Apprenticeship provided education and opportunities for young men and (some) women and was one of the ways of becoming a freeman of a borough or a guild. This session looks at the London records at the Guildhall as well as other local town records.
Church court records
The church upheld the morality of its citizens and an appearance before the courts as a plaintiff or witness was very common. This session looks at the records and cases generated by the courts as a useful genealogical resource from 1600-1800.
Day 5
The old poor laws
The Tudor poor laws limped on, administered by the church in its civil capacity, until it was replaced in 1834 and produced an amazing amount of information about those who did or who might become a burden on the parish.
17th century problems, strategies and searches
With so much migration into Virginia and New England by the mid 17th century this session will look at the possible sources that might help extend research back in England.
An introduction to manorial documents
Understanding the manors where your ancestors might have lived and worked may provide information from the manorial court records, rentals and estate records. This session will show how to find manorial records and some examples of the genealogical information they may yield.
Now which websites?
An overview of the major genealogy databases and repositories to further your English genealogical research.