Before beginning your British Isles genealogical research, you should do is
find out what information is already available about your family.
Tip: Find your "Genetic Homeland"
technique for locating the region in which your surname originated
is to note the surnames of any close matches (1-5 mismatches, say)
to your Y-DNA on 25 or 37 markers. You can determine the
distribution of these surnames, as well as your own, in the 1881
Census of Great Britain at this website: http://gbnames.publicprofiler.org/.
You can then look for areas where the highest distributions of
these surnames overlap to narrow down the regional origin of your
surname within the British Isles. For a more detailed description
of this method of identifying your paternal "Genetic Homeland,"
please visit Tyrone Bowes's site http://www.englishorigenes.com/.
Note that similar sites have been created for those seeking
Scottish and Irish ancestors.
maps of surnames in the 1881 Census of Great Britain are now available for new
members on the British Isles DNA website. Simply click here for a
list of surname distribution maps. If you wish to have a
distribution map for your surname included on our list, please click here
to request a map.
Start by looking for your family at
If you use the Search for Ancestors screen, you will search the following
The International Genealogical Index (IGI):
The world's largest genealogy index is the International Genealogical Index. The
IGI is a large database containing more than 600 million names. Several million
additional names are added yearly. The IGI primarily indexes births, baptisms
(called christenings), and marriages. It rarely contains deaths.
The IGI is an extremely valuable research tool that every researcher needs to
understand and consult, but good research techniques require that every entry
found in the IGI should be checked in original sources to insure accuracy. The
entries on the IGI are in two categories: events that were extracted from
official records, and events that were submitted by individuals. If you
click on an entry to reveal the details, look at the "Messages" and "Source
Information" and you will know the source of the entry. If the Batch
number begins with a C or a M, this is an extracted record and you should see a
message similar to "Extracted birth or christening record for the locality
listed in the record." The extracted entries are much more reliable than
those submitted by individuals.
Vital Records Index: These records have all been extracted from
The Ancestral File contains lineage-linked information on about 20 million
people. With Ancestral File, you can print pedigree charts and family group
sheets of families contained in the database. Ancestral File was created many
years ago, and the pedigrees were submitted by individuals. The database
contains many research errors and computer merging errors, but it can provide
good clues for further research. The file is now closed, and no corrections are
currently being made.
Pedigree Resource File: This file was created from pedigrees submitted
from individuals who uploaded GEDCOM files to FamilySearch.org. Only the index
is onlinel the actual pedigrees are on compact disc. Most Family History Centers
will have the compact discs, but you can also purchase any that interest you
Family History Library Catalog
After you have checked the Internet to see if anyone has been researching
your family, you will use the
Family History Library
(FHLC) to look for published family histories or genealogies that have been
published by someone else. You should also check the catalog of your local
public library. A distant relative may have already done much of the work for
you. Look for local histories that may contain details about your ancestor or
his community. After looking through the many secondary and compiled sources,
you are ready to look at original records.
Family History Library Catalog™ (FHLC): The Family History Library in
Salt Lake City, Utah, has a very large collection of records from the British
Isles. In fact, one entire floor in the Family History Library is devoted
to the British Isles. The majority of the Family History Library's microfilm and
microfiche materials are available to researchers at Family History Centers
through rental and indefinite loans. In addition, the FHL has a
photocopying service to copy pages from books. Mastering the FHLC is your key to
finding research materials available in the Family History Library (FHL). Family
History Library call numbers are given for many of the records in this Guide to
British Isles Research so that you can find them easily in the Family History