logo Family History Research UK

Contact me

Contact me

logo Online Records

Services and prices



Terms of business


Areas covered









Other areas


Online records

Births, marriages and deaths

Census records

Parish registers

Other records


Record offices

The National Archives

London Metropolitan Archives

Society of Genealogists

County record offices


In recent years there has been a huge increase in the numbers and types of records available online. The major types that are useful for those researching their UK family history include the civil records i.e. births, marriages and deaths, the census records starting in 1841 and increasingly parish records. Civil and census records are the only records where the information is more or less complete from the start of record keeping and readily available online. 

It is often assumed especially by beginners that most parish registers are also available online, but not all of the surviving records are included, even in index form. It must also be remembered that although parish records began to be kept in the 16th century, there is by no means 100% survival of these records.

Online records are mostly hosted by commercial genealogy sites such as Ancestry and Find My Past, and may be viewed only by subscribers to those sites. Library subscriptions for institutions are available and provide access to institution members. The largest site where indexes to parish records are available for free is Family Search,which also has a growing collection of images of the original registers which again can be viewed for free.  

As a professional genealogist, I have a subscription to the commercial sites, so if you ask me to carry out research on your behalf, I will include images (where they exist) at no additional cost to you.




About me

 Births, marriages and deaths


These records start in 1837 and continue to the present day. The online indexes can be searched from 1837 to 2021 for births and deaths, and from 1837 to 2005 for marriages. For family history purposes these records are often the place to get started.


The online records consist of the indexes only, providing the name and surname of the person and the year and quarter when the event occurred. For early records, this is literally all you will find in the indexes; for later ones there may be more details (birth indexes may give the mother's maiden name, a marriage record may give the spouse's name and death indexes start to give the age at death).


In order to obtain additional details of the event, a certificate must be ordered from the General Register Office, using the reference number found in the indexes. The certificates are available in different formats, depending on the date and type of certificate. Currently (September 2023) the following options are available:


- Birth certificates from 1837 to 100 years ago: online view and digital download of the certificate. Cost: £2.50.

Birth certificates from 1837 to 1921: pdf copy of image is also available at a cost of £7.00, but there is no advantage to this over the digital copy above.

- Birth certificates from 100 years ago to present day: hard copy by post only. Cost: £11.00.

- Marriage certificates: hard copy by post only. Cost: £11.00.

- Death certificates from 1837 to 1887: online view and digital download of the certificate. Cost: £2.50.

- Death certificates from 1888 to 1957: pdf copy of image. Cost: £7.00.

- Death certificates from 1958 to present day: hard copy by post only. Cost: £11.00.


You can either order the certificate yourself or ask me to do it for you. Certificates provide vital detail to genealogists, especially birth and marriage certificates:


    * birth certificates: parents' names, place of birth

    * marriage certificates: names and occupations of bride's and groom's fathers, age of bride and groom at time of marriage (may be approximate), signatures of witnesses.



 Census records



The UK census has been taken every 10 years since 1841 and is available for research up to and including 1921. In order to protect the privacy of those still alive, there is a '100-year rule' which prevents release of information until 100 years after the census takes place. The censuses have all been indexed and can be searched by name or by address at the major genealogy commercial websites, such as Ancestry and Findmypast. Images of the original census form are also available there. I include the cost of obtaining these images in my hourly research fees.


Here is an example of search results at Findmypast, for my great-great grandmother Rebecca Rivers in the 1871 census. I already know that she was born around 1815:



Birth Year



Registration District/ Parish


Household Transcript

Original census image

RIVERS, Rebecca








RIVERS, Rebecca




Bishop's Stortford






Now I happen to know that my great-great grandmother is the one living in the Wantage district of Berkshire. But suppose I hadn't known that? Or suppose I wanted to know the exact address where she was living and who else was living there with her? I would need to view the Household Transcript (a transcribed copy of the actual census form) and the Original census image, in order to find out the exact address, her place of birth and the other members of the family who were at the same address. All this would cost me money to see - and I might need to look at them for more than one individual, if I wasn't sure which one was 'mine'.  And I was lucky in my search example above, because there were only two possibilities - there might be many more than this.



 Parish registers



Parish registers are available as far back as 1537 in some cases, and many have been indexed. The indexes can be searched online on the Family Search website, and images are available for some registers for free at that site, or at a cost on commercial websites. Where possible I will verify what I find in an index by viewing an image of the original, but in many cases this can only be done at the relevant local record office, usually on microfilm or microfiche.


The time spent and possibly the travelling I will need to do for parish register research varies considerably, depending on the area where your ancestors lived and the availability of records.



 Other records



Indexes to many other types of records are available online, some of which may be helpful in genealogical research. Coverage is patchy and as with the parish registers, a visit to a record office may be needed to verify information or to obtain images of the original records.  Examples of records that can be helpful include:


    * Probate records and wills

    * Military records

    * Apprenticeship records

    * School and university registers

    * Court records, prison registers

    * Land tax, survey records, freemen, electoral registers

    * Newspapers



Back to top