Starting the Search

How do I start

Researching your Family History demands a step by step approach, start with what you know, which means yourself. Download our Free Blank Family Tree to help you start.

You know your birth date, and you should know those of your parents, brothers and sisters. Your next step is to look for your parent’s marriage date, and then the same details of their parents and so on BACKWARDS.

Ask your family members to write down their early memories of their parents and grand-parents and early childhood. Once you become a member of Herefordshire FHS you can join our on-line community and join in discussions on the society forum.
You can also submit to the members-only Interests listing.

Births, Marriages and Deaths after 1837

Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths began in England and Wales on 1st July 1837. There are some omissions from the early years. Copies of all entries from that date to the present day are held by the General Register Office (GRO) which is part of the Office for National Statistics.

Not all the information on certificates today was collected initially. Age at death was added in 1866; Mother’s maiden name on birth certificates came in September 1911.

Herefordshire FHS has, in co-operation with Herefordshire Council, indexed the Herefordshire Registrars marriages and this index is available on CD. See our Publications page.

Records before 1837

The Genealogical Society of Utah (Mormons) have compiled an index called the IGI (International Genealogical Index). This holds records that have taken place in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland since the beginning of record keeping (about 1550) to 1837 when Civil Registration began.

This is now online and is available at all Record Offices. Alternately, many family history societies also have compiled indexes of these registers.

Non-Parochial Registers

If you cannot find your ancestor in the Church of England Registers, perhaps they were members of other denominations such as Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists or Catholics. If this is the case, try looking at the Protestant Dissenters’ Registry on the National Archives (TNA) website. This index is sometimes called the Dr. Williams’s Library and was set up in 1742. A similar Metropolitan Registry was set up for Wesleyan Methodists in 1818.

Both these records are indexed and contain births which occurred before the official start dates and contain names of people born countrywide or overseas, covering records 1742-1840 and is found under reference RG4.

Records of Quaker (Society of Friends) birth, marriages and deaths are held at the Public Record Office (TNA) and can be found under reference RG 6.

Records of clandestine Anglican Marriages conducted in and around London during the 17th and 18th century can be found at the Public Record Office under reference RG7.

Britons abroad

Indexes to the Registrar General’s Statutory Returns of births and deaths of Britons at Sea date from July 1837. Consular Returns of births, marriages and death of Britons abroad after July 1849 can be searched at the National Archives. There are also various indexes to Military, Naval and Royal Air Force births, marriages and deaths of personnel and their families, including deaths in the Boer War, First and Second World Wars and civilian aircraft after 1947.

Applications for certified copies of the entries can be made in person at the Overseas Section, Office for National Statistics.

What Census are available?

The Census has been taken every ten years since 1801, although before 1841 they are of little help as they contain only statistics. From 1851 the place of birth was also included. The latest census of 1911 includes details of Full Name, Age, relationship to Head of Household, Occupation, Marital Status and Place of Birth.

Is anyone researching my family?

Family History Societies publish on microfiche, booklets and on-line, lists of names, places, counties and dates, of families currently being researched, with contact details of the contributors. There are many such sources of information.

Many also provide a Members Interest facility, where members can submit their interests for publication, in the journal and on-line. This allows the possibility of browsers of the internet or locally in libraries and research centres the opportunity of making contact with members.

Many groups hold recording sessions of burials, marriages and gravestones, all of which are enjoyable pastimes. If you are able to attend local societies, offer your help to an organiser, every little helps.

See Surname Interests for details of surnames being researched by members of the society.

Herefordshire FHS: Secretary.

28 Cypress Road, Walton Cardiff
GL20 7RB
e-mail: Secretary

Site Login

Lost your password? X