Gary Shea's Family History

English Ancestry

My English Forebears

My English hail primarily from Lancashire, Cumberland and Devon. At least that's what the research shows so far. By tying into a tree at Ancestral File on, the Cumberland lines (Bacon, Hodgson, Fletcher, Cragg, Goulding) go back the furthest.

I have plenty of brickwalls, for the challenge of researching from the USA is real.

I have also seen success with help from English friends and relatives and by researching at the Family History Centre in London and the British Library Newspaper Library at Colindale. Take a look at my tree for the start of my English ancestry. This link goes to details on my Uncle Jim. We corresponded for many years and saw each other too infrequently. Some of the family history he provided put me on the right trails.

Recommended Web Sites

FeeeBMD    FreeBMD is a work in progress that is fairly far along. It is an on-line version of the 1837 to the present England and Wales birth, marriage and death record indices. To go into how to use it is a bit beyond the scope of my website. Let me just say that productive research can be done by a non-UK resident with relative ease (bad pun, sorry) using the the data found at FreeBMD, a top-notch resource.

General Register Office    The General Register Office for England and Wales offers on-line ordering services for birth, marriage and death certificates. The Frequently Asked Questions section includes an overview of how the Indices (the subject of the FreeBMD website) work.

1901 Census of England and Wales Online    When the 1901 England and Wales census came online it was one of the busiest sites on the web, so busy in fact that it taken down for a few months to be redesigned and rebuilt. Today it is merely an exceptional website. Note that there are fees for viewing detail records.

Recommended Genealogy Books

Here are four on English family history that I use. These are all excellent books.

  • English Roots: A Family History (1995) by Nic Madge. Someday I want to write a family history like Nic's. This book is the most readable and learned I have run across. He begins in the 1630s with one line of his family, the Ashtons, and works his way forward devoting a chapter per generation for nine generations. All that he has learned about each family along with reproductions of primary documents make this book educational as well. The ISBN is 0-7509-1139-5.

  • Your English Ancestry: A Guide for North Americans (1993) by Sherry Irvine. The best part of this short readable book is that Ms. Irvine takes the perspective of the North American. The records are remote for us, so how can efficient research be done? By providing a broad view, the answer is provided as well as the setting of reasonable expectations. Since 1993 much more is available on-line. The basics and good advice on strategies are still sound. The ISBN for this book is 0-916489-53-1.

  • Ancestral Trails: The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History (2000), by Mark D. Herber. This book is irresistable. And it is complete. For the experienced English researcher that is stuck I would say there's got to be something in this book that will help. I have an ancestor that was a Coastguardsman in Devon, circa 1850. This position made the book's index and on page 406 I learn that there are a number of records in the English Public Records Office on members of the Coastguard. This ISBN is 0-8063-1633-0.

  • Tracing Your Ancestors in the Public Record Office (5th Edition, 1999), edited by Amanda Bevan. This book is a guide published by the records office. Exhaustively it covers what English public records are available and as it takes a genealogical slant it endeavors to cover what's of interest in the records. The ISBN is 1-873162-61-8.

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