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A Beginner's Guide to doing FREE family history research 


Birth, marriage and death indexes are crucial building blocks to help you trace your family tree.

On FreeBMD you can search the indexes for England and Wales, going back to 1837, and get the vital reference numbers you need to order birth, marriage and death certificates.

Once you’ve explored FreeBMD, don’t miss it’s free sister projects FreeCEN (, which aims to transcribe British censuses from 1841-1891, and FreeREG (, for parish register transcriptions.

The records on FreeBMD, FreeCEN and FreeREG have been created by dedicated volunteers so have been created to an extremely high standard – all the better to help you find your family members.



FamilySearch is is packed with parish records, censuses, and many other crucial resources both for seeking ancestors in the British Isles and from nations all around the world. The site is open to everyone. You can start searching right away, and explore the global range of digitised records and indexes.

In addition to the record collections, there is also lots of useful background information. For instance, you may find a wiki page with historic information about the very village your ancestors lived in, and the records that you might search. There rae also free tutorial resources and digitised ebooks to read. Plus you can create a free online family tree, and add to it as you learn more about the generations on your family tree.



GENUKI – is the UK and Ireland Genealogy gateway site – and is a massive online genealogy encyclopedia. Search for the location your ancestor once lived in, and find out about the family history resources for that county. GENUKI covers England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. Alternatively search by subject to learn about a specific type of historic record that will help you research your family history. Plus there are links to further useful family history websites.


People can also try the 14 day trial on Ancestry and Find My Past as well as long as they remember to cancel if they don't want to continue.


Important tips for anyone thinking of researching their family:


1. Start with what you know, ask older relatives about their older relatives!  Recall family conversations about stories that have been handed down.  Check through your drawers to see if you have any birth/marriage/death certificates and other documents giving family information, and get other relatives to do the same.


2 Always write down the source of the information to save time at a later stage.


3. Be strict!!   Only follow one ancestral line at a time as it can get very confusing!!

Good Luck !!  We would be very interesed in  anything you dig up locally -(not literally though please! )


( All the photos are in Lymm by the way) 

The free website info was originally published  My Family Tree magazine. The tips are from the experience of one of our supporters and professional family historian Jackie Cooling. 

Jackie has her own website through which you can contact her for advice and also, potentially, professional help. 

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