CANTERBURY BRANCH
KENT FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY

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WEBSITES FOR FAMILY HISTORIANS

Is there a Patron Saint of family researchers? Until one comes to light perhaps the honour should go to St Theodore of Tarsus Archbishop of Canterbury (668 - 693 AD) who planned the administrative divisions of the church into dioceses and parishes. These church records being the base source for family researchers; before civil registration started.

> Kent Family History Society - the main site for our Society, with details of Overseas Representatives and all the branches at: Ashford, Canterbury, Deal, Maidstone, Medway, Thanet and the Global Branch which is open to all members of Kent FHS wherever they are in the world. There is a members' area where you can contact others researching the same names. Free downloadable parish maps. Non-members and Members (discount) on purchases of transcribed Parish Records on CDs, at the online shop. You can also join the Society.

> Canterbury Cathedral Archives  - this page links to their searchable catalogue of documents covering East Kent parishes, Dean and Chapter records, those of the ancient City & Borough of Canterbury and East Kent Wills: to name but a few of their many holdings.  It should be noted that from the mid fifteenth century until 1974 Canterbury was was not administered by Kent County. Canterbury was a county corporate with the Mayor and Council of the City and Borough of Canterbury managing their own affairs as if a county. Links on this site to  the University of Kent's Templeman Library which hold the catalogue of books held at the Cathedral.

> Kent Archives Search  - A searchable catalogue of documents which are held in the Kent History Centre and Library (formerly the Centre for Kentish Studies) situated in Kent's county town; Maidstone. See also Canterbury Cathedral and Medway Archives.

> City Ark: Medway Ancestors -you may see original documents online for Medway area parishes on this free site (thanks to the National Lottery). Its not a quick fix as its not indexed; nevertheless, you can 'leaf' through the pages of the registers from home. In the last decade of the 20th century Medway became a unitary authority in its own right.

> GRO   ~ General Register Office of the UK is the official government department under the Home Office in charge of registration in the UK. All commercial sites have to order via GRO so you won't find a cheaper option for your certificates. Start by searching > FreeBMD for the reference numbers and registration district and you will only be charged the basic fee (currently under 10). Without such information they may help but will charge a search fee. GRO may help trace living relatives after ascertaining your reasons for contacting them before starting their search. They may only give out information if the person you are seeking permits.

> FreeBMD Indexes ~ transcribed from index to registers dating from 1837 and the start civil registration in England and Wales. Its entirely FREE searchable site but its' popularity means it can be slow at busy times. The project is entirely volunteer run transcribers are mostly family historians and, possibly for that reason, has a better error free rate then other pay to view sites.

> Workhouses    Peter Higginbotham started his website in 2000 as an enthusiastic family historian and since then he has produced a 'one stop shop' devoted to anything to do with Workhouses and the various Poor Laws. There are images, sketches and plans of individual workhouses and their histories. A wonderful source for Family historians.

> TNA   The National Archives of the UK -  a huge site packed with information and hence a bit complicated to use. Start with their instruction pages or the subject pages where they try to simplify the route you need to use for searching through a particular set of documents.  Scans of many documents may be downloaded from your home computer for a small fee. But if you visit Kew its free inside their archives. Plus you can email digital copies home, or take a photocopy or photograph documents with your own camera.

> Scotland's People  A pay to view site run by The National Archives for Scotland. You may find other pay to view sites have indexes but not the original documents which are kept firmly in house with no third party use.

> GWGC  Commonwealth War Graves Commission. A free searchable site for British Empire soldiers, and some civilians, who fell in the two World Wars. Details of the cemetery and the grave's position may be found via online plans of cemeteries and also a recent innovation is a GPS to pin point the actual grave. Online entries sometimes include the circumstances of the action when the person died and also family members names. 

> British Newspapers 1800-1900  Search 2 million pages of 19th century newspapers by keywords. More and more Newspapers are being loaded and some may be viewed FREE. Others you can pay to view or its free if you are a member of a subscribing institution.

> Proceedings of the Old Bailey  A fully-searchable index of cases tried at the Old Bailey between 1674 an 1913. Well worth trying your ancestors names. They may not have been in the dock but they could have been a witness... or worse the victim! But if they turn out to be 'the prisoner at the bar' then you can dine out on the tale having found an interesting ancestor: as long as its not the Ripper!

> The London Gazette a fully name-searchable database of the official publication listing medals awarded, officer promotions, bankruptcies etc. Covering the entire 20th century. Registration is advised, as you can't refine your search easily otherwise.

Tricia Baxter, Secretary & Webmaster

David Wood, Branch Chairman

Page updated22 February 2016