Ten top websites for tracing ancestors who migrated to the British Isles


06 June 2023
Chris Paton looks at some of the best websites for finding out more about ancestors who migrated to Britain from other countries.

1 The National Archives has provided a helpful guide here which documents the many types of denization and naturalisation records that can be searched concerning migrants who were successful in their applications.

2 As various migrant groups arrived and settled in Britain, they established their own churches and kept their own registers. Many records for Russian Orthodox, French Huguenots, Dutch, Swiss and German congregations, which settled in London, can be found in the nonconformist record collections at the BMD Registers site.

3 Stories of persecution feature heavily amongst many groups who have settled in Britain, and many have sought to preserve their histories online. For the French Huguenots, for example, the website of the Huguenot Society of Great Britain and Ireland can assist.

4 For those who were forced to flee to Britain from Nazi Germany, Austria, Poland and Czechoslovakia on the 'kindertransports' between December 1938 and the start of World War 2, there is the Kindertransport Association site.

5 – 7 For a more wide ranging Jewish history resource you should consult the JewishGEN website, the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain, and the Scottish Jewish Archive Centre.

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8 For those who settled in Northern Ireland (and across Ireland more widely), Stuart Rosenplatt's impressive 'Irish Jewish Family History Database' is available via the Irish Jewish Genealogical Society's platform.

9 Prior to 1960, we can trace arrivals to our shores through the Board of Trade passenger manifests, held at the UK's National Archives at Kew. These have been digitised and made available online through the 'UK and Ireland, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960' collection on Ancestry.

10 For more on immigration resources, consult the National Archives guide on the topic.

Text extracted from an in-depth article on tracing migrant ancestors in the July 2023 issue of Family Tree magazine. Get your copy here.

Chris Paton runs the Scotland’s Greatest Story research service and teaches online courses through Pharos Tutors. His books are available from Pen & Sword Publishing.


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