The Genealogist Research Guide

New Master Search

What's particularly different about is the range of powerful tools available for locating your ancestors

Our new Master Search makes all our records easily accessible at the click of a button.

This comprehensive search tool allows you to use one simple form to search across our millions of records, including Parish Records, Wills, Newspapers, Census, Non-Conformist Registers, and more.

The simple to use interface allows you to search for a person, family, or an address, incorporating the previous searches such as the Family Forename Search, House & Street Search, and Keyword Master Search.



Person Search

Searching for a Person 

If you are looking for an individual, select ‘A Person’ from the first drop down box, then select either All Records or a specific record type you wish to find, e.g Census, Birth, Marriage, etc., you can easily switch between the categories later.

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 Once you have selected a category, enter the details you wish to search for. You can enter any details you know about the person: forename, surname, year of birth, place name, etc. (It works just like a web search-engine). It is recommended to use at least 2 keywords, e.g. "George Bayley Lydd Labourer" (name, place, occupation). Wildcards (*) can be used to represent any characters at the END of your SURNAME or FORENAME (e.g. JAM* will find JAMES, JAMIE). 

You can also select the Phonetic option to search for different spellings of a surname, e.g. Bayley, Bailey, Baily etc. Phonetic search is much more refined than variant searching available on other sites as it concentrates on looking for a name based on the way it sounds rather than the way it is spelt. This is important as the records of our ancestors were often communicated verbally, for example a census enumerator asking a householders name or a vicar asking the names of a couple to be married. The further back you go the higher the likelihood of spelling variations, but the way a name sounded stayed consistent.

Please note however that you cannot use wildcards if you are using the Phonetic search option.

Try not to make the search too specific, as the age and birth place can sometimes differ between census years. It may also be wise to omit any middle names/initials as these were not always included.

In the example below, we have searched for the famous cider making family, entering ‘Bulmer’ in the surname box and ‘Cider’ in the keyword box.  This brings up two entries in 1911, the two brothers Henry (Percy) and Fred who founded the Cider business.

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To find different records on the person, change to an alternative event by selecting a category from the list on the left.

The number of results in the different categories for your search are shown on the menu next to the category:

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Family Search

Searching for a Family

This option is great for extracting hard to find families in the census. It enables you to search for a family you have not been able to find using the surname; possibly due to an unexpected spelling variation, by using the forenames only as a group search. The results can be refined by adding or subtracting a surname or family members.

As many families had a large number of children, the odds of another family in the same county being an exact match is quite remote. It is possible to narrow the search by year and county, if required, and enter as many householders that you know of:

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Select ‘A Family’ from the ‘What would you like to search for today?’ drop down box, then select a census year and county.

You can enter the family’s surname if you wish or leave this field blank to do a broader search.  You can also enter at least the first 2 letters followed by a wildcard symbol, such as Br* if searching for Bransgrove, to reduce a search if there are many results.

You can enter the forenames of family members, and use the ‘Add a family member’ link to increase the number of boxes available.

You can refine your search by:

- adding a Year of Birth for any member of the group or all of them

- include details of how the person is related to the head in the ‘Relation’ box, e.g. head, wife, son, daughter etc

- use a wildcard for forenames which have different variations, e.g. eliz* to find eliza or elizabeth

As ages can vary from one census to another, you can broaden the expected Year of Birth to include any matches within a decade by clicking the option box available.

To submit the details, select the ‘Search’ button and all results for the forename group will display below, and show possible matches within the selected year and county.  Results are displayed with the requested forenames highlighted, as well as any other names, and will include the Surname, and the Street Address, as well as a link to view the original image.

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Address Search

Searching for an Address

One of the advantages of the full transcription on TheGenealogist is that you can find the entry for a street address without having to know who lives there.

Select ‘An Address’ from the ‘What would you like to search for today?’ drop down box, then select the year, such as 1901, and the county, e.g. London and enter the name of the street you are looking for, click Search.

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If for example you wanted to find Downing Street you could enter the full name, but the census may have recorded Street as 'Street', 'St' or 'Str'. Since the search engine accepts the wildcard '*' symbol to represent one or more letters, a search on Downing S*' will capture these variations. In large cities, a street name may have been used more than once, so the Parish of each street is also listed on the first results page to help you identify the correct Street you need.

You can view the address by simply clicking on the Street Name.

The next window will show the result and display the Head of each household, if there are multiple houses on that street you will be able to then enter the house number to narrow down the results.

You can choose either to view the household or to view the original image by clicking the icons on the right:

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You can also use this search feature to find a particular institution such as a Workhouse and view all residents:

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