Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs are a collection of some of the questions that occur during the course of family history research. 

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Table of Contents

  1. How do I ask for information?
  2. Where can I find the documents that may help me?
  3. I am stuck in the 18th century
  4. I have found a document that appears to relate to my ancestor but it is written in Latin, what can I do?
  5. What is the "Domesday Book"
  6. When was the first census and how can I access them
  7. What is the best way of getting information from the General Registry
  8. Your Family Research Questions

How do I ask for information ?

1. To ask for information just complete the Request form.

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Where can I find the documents that may help me?

1. The first place after having gained as much information that may be available from your own family sources, is the County Record Office for the place where your ancestors lived, after that it will depend on what you find. The most common sources are Parish Registers and Census Returns.

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I am stuck at the 18th century, where can I look now?

The best places to look for early records are at County Record Offices where most parish registers and other documents appertaining to the inhabitants are now deposited for safe keeping. All registers have been or are in the process of being microfilmed, additionally where other documents are thought to be in greater demand, they too are microfilmed. Churchwardens Accounts, The Enclosure Awards, Land Tax Accounts are just some of those that record names of parishioners. Some CROs are now included in part of the Heritage Centres.

The reasons why so many records appear to end at this era is the aftermath of the Civil War, Rebellion and other National & International problems affecting our relationships with Europe and the Americas. Record keeping was not at its premium and there were not many who were literate enough anyway or even motivated to the task. The possibility of connection during this century and beyond is mostly a matter of luck, but perseverance can pay off.

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I have found a document that may relate to my ancestor but it is written in Latin, what can I do.

You will have to employ the services of a transcriber. County Record Offices are the best source for this enquiry and if they are unable to undertake the task will advise as necessary.

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What is the "Domesday Book"?

The Domesday Book is a record of the first "Census-Like" survey ordered by William I in 1086 AD. Each county was surveyed to record all land, its extent and owner/s at that time, in many cases the original Saxon owner/s are given to prove title. Books for each county have been transcribed and published by Phillimore in 1980.

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When was the first Census?

In 1801 all parishes made what was then classed as a "Population Return". Some did not bother and most that did were hand written by one of the parish officers chosen for the task. Some are easily read, but many are not and it was not until 1841 that forms were produced so that all information was uniform. There were some census-like assessments made before 1801 but were more of a private nature to the locality than a national requirement. Additionally there are Manorial Rolls recording those who lived and/or worked on the estate, some were compiled during the period 1801 to 1841. All Census Records are now available for searching from several Genealogical web sources. Other firms have produced census returns on CD-ROM for various counties whilst some of the west counties of England have been transcribed as enumerated, links to these sites are listed on my links page.

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What is the best way of getting information from the General Registry?
All General Registry records have now been filmed and are available for searching at County Records Offices, although some do not yet have a set. Ask at your local library to see if they are available at your CRO and ring to make an appointment. This is essential as many persons make use of this facility and its "first come - first served". For those who are not familiar with searching help is always at hand. When you have found the person you look for, make a note of the reference and then if you require a certificate, complete it as necessary and send it to the address given on the form together with the fee which is also stated on the form. Return of the certificate is usually within about 10 working days. Forms are available from CROs.

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Author: Roy Louis D Cox Family Historian
Copyright 2001  [Roy LD Cox]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 10/15/05.