I now have an extensive list of on-line sources, some more useful than others, so bear with me while I try to sort them into some sort of sensible order and attach links and comments about their value to my research.

Most useful sites

  • Findmypast – one of the most complete and reliably transcribed sets of records for England and Wales. Now also includes transcriptions for many Scottish records, but without associated images for Scotland. Can subscribe or pay per view.I find that the full subscription meets my needs best at I use this as my main source. Findmypast have recently opened a new site with Irish records. I have not had occasion to try it yet, but expect to need it soon.
  • FreeBMD – good for a quick search of GRO details and also has pages with parish records and some census information. Useful free starting point for anyone who is new to genealogical research and trying to get a first view of family. Fairly sketchy content after the mid 1950s. New records added about once a month.
  • Ancestry – good source of leads if you publish an online tree, but everything on there needs to be verified, including record transcriptions. A lot of “imaginative” content though. They also struggle to put the right counties on many UK records. I use with an international subscription to make my tree publically available but choose to keep the master data on my PC.
  • GenesReunited – can sometimes find useful leads here that are not on Ancestry.  This was where I first made my tree publically available. Worth thinking about publishing a tree here if you have UK origins. However, I find that the browser and tree navigation are not very user friendly and it is fairly hopeless trying to navigate round the site on an ipad.
  • ScotlandsPeople– the official site for Scottish records. I like the way they have made it possible to purchase and download BMD records. This enables a much faster and more interactive method of research than when trying to track English records. If you get the wrong one you can move on straight away rather than after a two week postal turnaround. The downside of the site is that everything is handled by purchasing credits and there is no subscription option.
  • General Records Office– this is where I purchase BMD records for England & Wales. Currently £9.25 per certificate copy, so if any of you are paying more than that to order through ancestry then this is worth a try. Can prove expensive as you sometimes have to take a few guesses if it is a common name. The downside for me is that living outside the UK I have to wait a couple of weeks from order date to receipt of the document. It would be so much more efficient if they allowed purchase with download as with Scottish records.
  • British Newspaper Archive– best source of historical online newspaper articles. Thousands of new pages added every day. Impressed to find that several of my local area newspapers are included, so I no longer need to spend my holidays slaving over a microfilm reader in the Alnwick or Morpeth library. Have found some fascinating and amusing articles about the villains of the family. Subscription options range from a couple of days to an annual subscription.
  • The Genealogist– another subscription site. Has a better collection of non-conformist records than some of the others, so has been useful for some of my needs. Otherwise, I use it as an extra check if I have not found information elsewhere. The information is quite well presented, but I find it heavy going to navigate backwards and make small changes to search criteria. Initial search screens are a little confusing. Easy to start searching the wrong set of records.
  • Family Search – a service provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Family Search claims to be the world’s largest genealogy organization. It is free to search and does have an extensive and ever growing record collection. The user interface has improved with a recent site update, but is still not particularly user friendly. Hopeless on an ipad. Need to be patient as it throws up a lot of irrelevant matches, but it does sometimes answer a question that cannot be resolved on other on-line sites. I tend to use it as a last resort after I have searched all the other sites and found nothing.

Other useful sites:

Family History Societies:

  • NDFHS(Northumberland and Durham)
  • Borders FHS
  • SAFHS (Scottish Association of Family History Societies)
  • ANEFHS (Arberdeen and North-East Scotland)


  • Genealogy Gems

ipad apps

  • Name maps
  • Ancestry
  • Families

Lots more to come when I get a few minutes to sort through the various bookmarks I have on my iPad. Have not tried all of them yet. Some are just jotted down for future evaluation as I listen to podcasts or read genealogy magazines.

Constructive comments and new relatives are welcome:

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