3 top websites for tracing ancestors who emigrated


07 February 2020
Researching your family history and discovering that an ancestor left Britain to find a new working life over the oceans is a common experience for many genealogy enthusiasts. Here we share 3 top websites for tracing the past journeys of your emigrant relatives

Apart from the masses of civil servants, employees of the East India Company and administrators, huge numbers of artisans and craftsmen, domestic servants and farm labourers have left Britain over the centuries for new lives overseas.

The Industrial Revolution and the land enclosures across the country, from the Georgian years through to the restless years of Victoria’s first decade in power, had created a shifting, precarious and ill-defined labour force in the new towns, and also an ‘underclass’ in the cities. The sheer numbers of the poor, able-bodied or otherwise, presented a threat and also a problem to the establishment in those years. 

In the March 2020 issue of Family Tree social and family historian Stephen Wade looks back at these emigrants from British shores in late the Victorian and Edwardian days. He turns back the pages of the past by investigating a fascinating shipping line handbook to gain a greater understanding of our ancestors’ travels and adventures through their own eyes.

On route, Stephen suggests a number of useful archives and websites for tracing emigrant ancestors from Britain – and here are our favourite three:

The Ships List

The Ships List is an essential source. It comprises passenger lists, fleet lists, ship descriptions, marriage at sea, famine emigrants and other resource lists. 

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Merseyside Maritime Museum & Archive Centre

The Archive Centre has useful research guides for tracing your ancestors, including child migration.

Benjidog Historical Research Resources

This site has the history and description of the Scottish Shire Line, which includes the Federal-Houlder-Line.

Read Stephen’s full article in the March issue of Family Tree, available here.

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