13 November 2019
Discover your Georgian ancestors with our guide to three free websites for your family history research
If you’ve traced your British ancestors back to the start of Victorian times, then now’s the time to step that little further to explore the genealogical records created in the Georgian era. An increasing number of Georgian records can be found online so you can begin tracing your 18th and early 19th century ancestors across the United Kingdom straight away.
Take your family back 300 years
In the Christmas 2019 issue of Family Tree magazine, genealogist Chris Paton provides a thorough guide to the records available on the internet – and here we choose three of our favourites to share with you.
Says Chris: ‘The Georgian era commenced in 1714 with the accession of George I and the House of Hanover, and continued until 1830, or 1837 if the short reign of William IV is included. The five monarchs of this period – the four Georges and William – oversaw a dramatic evolution in the newly formed entity of Great Britain, following the Acts of Union between Scotland, England and Wales in 1707, which would expand further in 1801 to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
'While many might view the Victorian era as being the heyday of the British Empire, it was the Georgian era preceding it which was the midwife to its existence, as it expanded the worldwide trading networks first conceived by the Stuart monarchs before them.’
3 free genealogy websites with Georgian records
With the creation of the United States as an independent nation following the Revolutionary War of 1775-1783, Britain needed a new destination for its policy of transportation, implemented through the Transportation Act of 1718, with criminal and political offenders having been previously sent overseas as indentured servants to the American colonies.
Following the discovery in 1770 of Australia, the continent was soon claimed as a British colony.
If your ancestor transported to Australia in the Georgian era, you could find their trial records digitised on The Proceedings of the Old Bailey Online, which also features useful guides.
With Ireland not joining the United Kingdom until 1801, it was not until 1813 that a nationwide census was attempted, but it was so poorly collated that it was never presented to Parliament. The first census to be carried out in Ireland was therefore in 1821, but unlike its British counterparts at the time, it recorded genealogically useful information from the outset.
Most records from 1821 and 1831 were subsequently destroyed, but those that have survived include the 1821 Census for the Aran Islands in Co Galway and the 1831 Census for Co Londonderry, among others, which are digitised and freely available on The National Archives of Ireland website.
Pre-1837 (when civil registration began in England and Wales), parish register collections from across England and Wales are increasingly being made available on the FamilySearch, alongside the subscription genealogy websites, enabling you to search for your Georgian ancestors’ baptisms, marriages and burials.
Only in the Christmas 2019 issue of Family Tree!
• Find Chris Paton's full article, packed with details of the Georgian era and the family history records created, in the Christmas 2019 issue of Family Tree magazine, on sale in print and digital on 19 November 2019. This issue includes the Family History Handbook 2020, so get your copy while stocks last!
Image: Print showing the street procession for King George IV’s coronation on 19 July 1821 in St James’s Park, London, when Britain was fast-changing into an industrial, urban nation, from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington DC 20540 USA.