Family History

The Family History Library holds a collection of resources primarily covering Buckinghamshire.

The Family History Department is located at Central Library. 

Family History Consultations:

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Expert John Hanson is offering free 20 minute consultations to help you with research into your Family History. Sessions need to be booked in advance by phoning 01908 254051 or emailing the Family History department at Central Library.

Sessions are on the following Thursdays between 4.15 and 7.30pm:

  • 20 June 2019
  • 18 July 2019

These sessions prove very popular and we would recommend booking early!

John has extended his sessions to include other libraries and is also offering free 20 minute consultations on Tuesdays between 10.30am and 1.30pm at the following libraries:

  • 11 June 2019 - Wolverton Library (Book on 01908 312812)

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Resources:

Archives

Although we hold a collection of resources primarily covering Buckinghamshire, we can still help if your ancestors lived elsewhere, as we provide access to family history resources covering the whole of England and Wales.

Family History enquiries are welcomed either in person, by phone, fax or email. Some enquiries may incur a small charge - see under Family History Research on the Library Charges page for details.

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Electoral Registers

Voters Lists:

Registers of Parliamentary electors were introduced by the 1832 Reform Act. A voter’s name must be on them in order to cast a vote.

They have been compiled annually since 1832, except for 1916–17 and 1940–44 inclusive during the World Wars and 1919–1926 and 1945–1949 when the registers were compiled twice a year.

All registers list the name (usually surname, first name and initials) of the voter and an address.

Until 1918, the registers included the qualification that entitled the person to vote, details of their current residence and the address of property owned in the constituency or polling district.

Following the 1918 Representation of the People Act it stated that, wherever possible, the register should be published in street order with no surname index.

From 1928–1970 the abbreviation 'Y' was used to denote someone who would reach the age of 21 during the first half of the year in which the register was in force. After 1970, the date of birth is given for anyone approaching the age of 18.

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Viewing the current edition of the Milton Keynes Electoral Register: 

The open version does not contain all the electors in Milton Keynes as any elector can request that their personal details be kept private and consequently will not be listed in this open version.

If you wish to consult the full version of the current electoral register please contact Milton Keynes Council Electoral Services.

Viewing the current edition of the Electoral Register for other areas of the UK:

If you want to look at the current electoral register for other areas of the UK, the following websites allow you to search the open electoral register for the whole of the UK (there may be a charge to look at the information):

​If you wish to look at the full electoral register for any area of the UK, you will need to contact the electoral services department of that local council for details of access arrangements.

Viewing previous editions of the Milton Keynes Electoral Register:

The Family History Library keeps an archive of electoral registers for Milton Keynes:

  • full registers from 1984 to 2005
  • open electoral registers from 2006 - 2012

Electoral registers for the area dating from before 1984 are held at the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies in Aylesbury.

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International Genealogical Index

This resource is also known as the Mormon Index or IGI.

The IGI was compiled by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons). It contains millions of names gathered from records all around the world.

For the UK this consists mainly of records of baptisms and marriages extracted from parish registers. It covers the period from 1538 up to the mid 1870s.

You can search the IGI online at the Familysearch website or on microfiche in the Family History Department.

The Vital Records Index is an addition to the IGI, covering extra parishes. It is available to search on CD-Rom in the Family History Library.

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Non-Conformist Registers

'Non-Conformist' was the term used to describe all those who did not attend the Church of England. 

Until the early part of the 19th Century, only Church of England baptisms and marriages had any legal status.

Under the terms of the Hardwicke’s Marriage Act in 1753 all marriages between the years 1754 and 1837 had to take place within the established church with only Quakers and Jews being exempted from this.

From the 16th century onwards, many Protestant non-conformists kept registers of births (or baptisms) and deaths (or burials) of members of their own congregations.

The Family History Library has microfilm copies of some local non-conformist registers - please contact us for details.

The Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies in Aylesbury also holds some non-conformist registers for Buckinghamshire.

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Family History Magazines

We hold copies of several Family History Magazines at Central Library and subscribe to two local publications:

  • Bucks Ancestor - Magazine of the Bucks Genealogical Society
  • Origins - Magazine of the Bucks Family History Society

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Local Newspapers

Most of our local MK newspaper collection is on microfilm.

If you are making a special journey to use the newspapers on microfilm we recommend that you contact us in advance to book a microfilm reader by phoning the Local Studies Library on 01908 254051.

Our local newspapers are not indexed so, if you are looking for a particular event, it helps to have a good idea of the month and year before beginning your search.

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You can view a list of the Local Newspapers held in Milton Keynes Libraries.

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Trade Directories

Trade Directories can be a useful resource for Family History research as they list the names of individuals and where they lived. The Directories often also have a prefatory chapter on the history and geography of the area, and a list of people holding official positions.

Directories held in the Local Studies and Family History Library:

  • Pigot’s and Kelly’s Directories for Buckinghamshire from 1830 to 1939.
  • The library also holds more recent Business Directories for Milton Keynes - Search the Library Catalogue for more details.
  • BT Telephone Directories and Yellow Pages directories for the Milton Keynes area are available in the library from 1976 onwards.
  • You can view the current editions of the BT Directory and  Yellow Pages online.

Trade Directories for the rest of the UK:

  • Historical Directories is a digital library of local and Trade Directories for England and Wales, from 1750 to 1919. It contains high quality reproductions of comparatively rare directories - essential tools for research into local and genealogical history.
  • The Ancestry website can be viewed free of charge in all Milton Keynes Libraries and contains a number of digitised UK Trade Directories.

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Wills, Probate and Letters of Administration

A will is a formal document setting out what a person wants to happen to their possessions after their death.

Wills dating from after 12 January 1858, when a single Court of Probate was set up, are usually easy to trace. Before 1858, wills were proved in a variety of ecclesiastical (church) courts and are generally more difficult to find.

Buckinghamshire Wills

Many of the wills for Buckinghamshire from the 16th century to 1858 are held on microfilm in the Family History Library. You can search for a will online through Buckinghamshire Family History.

Wills before 1858

The National Archives provide online access to all wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) prior to 1858.
Records for wills proved in the Prerogative Court of York (PCY) before 1858 are held at the Borthwick Institute in York.

Wills after 1858

Copies of wills, probate and letters of administration for the whole of England and Wales from 1858 can be ordered from the HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

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Wills Outside Buckinghamshire

  • Pre 1858 may be found locally or on the National Archives website, however, it applies mainly to wealthier people.
  • 1858-1966 abbreviated probate records are available on Ancestry.
  • Wills after 1858 can be found on the gov.uk website under 'Search for Wills'.

National Probate Index

All wills and administrations proved in England and Wales from 1858-1943 should be listed in the National Probate Index. A microfiche copy of the annual printed index is available at the Centre for Bucks Studies. They give the deceased’s name, occupation, address, date and place of death, the names of the executors and the value of the estate.

Online Will and Probate Records

Ancestry has a collection containing summaries of the vast majority of probate cases in England and Wales between 1861 and 1941. It effectively forms an index to wills and probate records for this period.

Created by the Probate Registry, the collection covers 80 years from 1861 to 1941. It does not cover the years 1858-1860 and there are some gaps for the years 1863, 1868, 1873, 1876, 1877, 1883, 1888, 1899-1903 and 1910-1911. However, it is hoped that missing records will be added as soon as possible.

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Useful Family History Websites:

  • UK BMD - UK births, marriages, deaths and censuses.
  • AGRA - Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives offer the services of a professional genealogist or a family history researcher.
  • Deceased Online - central database for UK burials and cremations.
  • Family Search - The 1841-1911 censuses for England and Wales and 1841-1891 censuses for Scotland can be viewed here free of charge. The website does not currently provide access to digital images of the census.
  • FreeCen - A project to make all the UK censuses freely available online. As the work is being undertaken by volunteers the website is not complete but it can be a useful tool.
  • Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet.

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Last Updated: 17 June 2019