British Isles Genealogy Resources

NOTE: Friday’s Family History Finds is on a short hiatus because I have no reliable internet connection right now.

Given the huge number of Americans who have British Isles ancestry, I decided it was time to compile a list of mostly free websites to help with that research.

The Federation of Family History Societies – subscription membership, but there are almost 200 local family history societies that belong to FFHS. If you know the ancestral home of your family, membership in a society might provide access to local records.

GENUKI – a virtual reference library of genealogical information of particular relevance to the UK and Ireland

Guild of One-Name Studies

Society of Genealogists

Be aware that for colonial American ties to Britain, many early parish registers have been indexed and are available on FamilySearch.

However, for more recent vital records, there are indexes available online, but birth, marriage and death records must be purchased.


FreeBMD – Civil registration began in 1837 and records are indexed.

General Register Office – Certificates can be ordered here.

FreeReg – Parish registers can be searched here. Be aware that not all parishes are included, nor are all date ranges.

Prerogative Court of Canterbury – Probate records (wills) can be downloaded directly from the website, but it is a pay site.

Church of England Clergy – covers 1540-1835

Old Bailey – criminal trial records from 1674-1913

Historical Directories of England and Wales – digital directories from 1750-1919

Post-1858 Wills for England and Wales – searchable index

Northern Ireland

North of Ireland Family History Society

General Register Office of Northern Ireland

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI)


Scottish Association of Family History Societies

ScotlandsPeople – This is the government website to use for Scottish records. However, it is a pay site.

National Records of Scotland: Besides access to ScotlandsPeople, this site has many other databases:

National Library of Scotland

The Scottish Archive Network


FamilySearch Wiki – Wales Genealogy, lots of links

Archives Network Wales – Includes collections from 21 archives in Wales

FreeBMD – Civil registration began in 1837 and records are indexed.

General Register Office – Certificates can be ordered here.

Historical Directories of England and Wales – digital directories from 1750-1919

National Library of Wales

A Topographical Dictionary of Wales

FamilySearch Wales Probate Abstracts, 1544-1858 – As of December 2017, patrons must sign up for a free account to log in and access collections on FamilySearch


IrishGenealogy – Search vital records for Ireland

National Archives of Ireland

National Library of Ireland

United Kingdom

UK GenWeb – managed by volunteers so some sites might be chock full of information, while others have little, but well worth checking

The Genealogist – membership website, but you can search for free.

International Society for British Genealogy and Family History – based in the US

Wales, Ireland, Scotland, England Family History Society

Quaker Family History Society

Forces War Records – search military records for free, but fee to access

Catholic Family History Society – covers England, Wales and Scotland, but not Ireland

Adoption Search Reunion

Children’s Homes

Home Children, 1869-1932 – British Home Children in Canada

British Home Children in Canada

British History Online

British Home Child Group International

British Library

Connected Histories

Deceased Online – search British burial records for free, but fee to access

British Postal Museum and Archive

Army Museums Ogilby Trust – Regimental museums in the U.K.

Borthwick Institute for Archives – U.K. repository of regional and national archives

British Newspaper Archive

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The Gazette – UK government notices on a variety of topics

FreeCEN – Search U.K. Censuses

Medieval English Genealogy

Gazetteer of British Place Names

University Research Libraries – catalogs of 24 of the largest UK and Ireland research libraries

National Maritime Museum

Railway, Work, Life & Death – spreadsheet with details about UK rail accidents

National Railway Museum

Naval Biographical Database

Roll of Honour – war memorials in the UK

Western Front Association – remembering those who served in The Great War (WWI)

The Workhouse – Learn about the poorhouses of their times

UKBMD Project – local society initiatives to publish local records online

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