28 March 2019
Trace your family history for free and discover the lives and times of your London ancestors with this round-up of free of charge online resources.
London Ancestors portal
A useful site of maps, images and written resources relating to London local history. Among the gems are news reports relating to historic happenings including working class housing and local places of worship, as well as a 1794 London Directory, London views from the 1830s and maps including Tilbury Docks in the 1920s and the London Underground in 1912.
A full-searchable database of almost 250,000 manuscripts from eight different archives, covering fifteen datasets and over three million names. You can browse the different ‘lives’ which are mini biographies of interesting individuals or choose a keyword such as ‘burglar’ ‘pauper’ or ‘arson’ to find out more about a particular topic.
The research guides are a helpful launching point for looking into a topic such as poverty, bastardy or apprenticeships, and you can also search the records of guilds and hospitals.
A collection of digitised records of London’s central criminal court from 1674 to 1913 with details of more than 197,000 criminal trials involving ‘ordinary’ people over the centuries.
London’s Central Criminal Court heard thousands of different crimes, which are listed here, with details of defendants, witnesses, prosecution and victims.
You can search with keywords including surname, crime and punishment sentence – the video guide to searching tutorial is very useful. This is a rich and complex collection that rewards careful research and although the volume of material may seem daunting, the website has some valuable information guides and videos.
Locating London’s Past
Early Modern and eighteenth-century London are the focus of this mapping website that allows you to search a range of digital resources and then map your findings onto a GIS compliant version of John Roque’s 1746 London map.
You can explore criminal, poor law, taxation and plague records and then georeferenced the 1746 map pinpoints with the first edition London OS map (1863-80) and a modern-day London map.
Collage: the London Picture Archive
Collage is home to a quarter of a million images of bygone London from the collections of London Metropolitan Archives and the Guildhall Art Gallery. You can search by map, street, topic or keyword, or browse the themed galleries that include London landmarks, tramway posters, Londoners, fashion and London life.
Historical Directories for London
Part of the University of Leicester’s Historical Directories of England and Wales project, this collection of London directories provides access to scanned images and full text of the directories. There are 91 directories in the London category, covering the years 1800 to 1919, with more comprehensive coverage for some years than others.
QUICK LINK: Free FindMyPast family history resources
(image copyright Tuck DB Postcards)