Merry Old England


Contributing Writer
Janet Wahlberg

Immigrants began coming to the Americas from England in the 1600s and continue to this day. My family first came in the late 1620s and continued into the early 20th Century. One distinct advantage that I have in doing research on them is that the English records are for the most part are written in English. You will find some pesky church records that are in Latin, remember that from high school? In all seriousness there are literally thousands of records available for research in England.

As you research your English ancestors who came in the 1600s, you will want to look at books and records that focus on The Great Migration a well as records produced by the New England Historical and Genealogical Society as these will help you to connect them to where they may have come from in England. We have these at the Hall House. Another resource for these early immigrants are parish records. These began in 1528 and continue in some cases to the present. If you are not sure what their faith was, you should start by looking in the Church of England records (Anglican). These are available from sources which I will talk about later in this article.

The basic records for family who came later are Birth, Marriage, Death, and Census records. One of the first tasks it to figure out where they came from in England then head to the records. There are many web sites that allow you to access these records. I favor Family Search, Ancestry and Find My Past. Family Search is free the other two require a membership. It is important to understand that the BMD indexes list the events by quarter; therefore, you will need to order a copy of the original if you want the specific date.

If you chose to use Family Search, on the main page select Search then from the drop-down menu select Research WIKI then type England into the box that is available. This will open a page dedicated to England. Take the time to really review all the available information on this page. Two of the most informative sections are the bordered section on the right side of the page and the large blue button titled England Online records. The bordered area contains a comprehensive list of links to record types. As each of these opens you will find a description of the records contained in that section. When you click on the large blue button, it will open to an extensive list of links to various websites. This list is divided into subtopics such as Church Records and Vital Records, Military Records, etc. For those links that have a cost you will see a $ sign. Many of the links will take you to familiar sites such as My Heritage, Ancestry or Find My Past. The primary advantages of using this list is that it saves you from tedious searching all over the internet for the information that you need.

Find My Past is an excellent resource for records for England. Go to the Home Page and click on the Search button. On the drop down, menu go to the title A-Z of Record Sets. It is located at the bottom of the list and will open a page that offers a list of choices. Select England which will when open to a page that lists all the counties. If you know the county where you wish to search, select it. There is a box at the top of the page that allows you to type in the specific record set that you wish to search in. Using these steps will narrow the number of records that you will need to browse to find the information you are looking for. Both Find My Past and Family Search provide links to the GRO office where you can order the records that you wish to.

As you know, not all records are on-line, so you may need to contact various genealogical societies in England. Located near the bottom of the bordered box on the England Wiki page in Family Search you will find a section titled Local Research Resources, click the link titled Societies. This will open a page with information on various societies in England. However, you will want to go to the bottom of the page and click on the website . This provides you with a comprehensive list of local societies arranged alphabetically by counties.

This is just a brief introduction to English Research, but again I remind you that you do not have to translate these records and we have some of the resources located at the Hall House. Enjoy your time in Merry Old England.