Online family tree researchers will be able to delve 300 years further back into their histories, thanks to a new register of burials in England and Wales.
The database, available on Findmypast.com, dates back to 1538, predating the centralised registration of deaths in England and Wales, which began only in 1837.
It includes details of more than 13 million burials contained in parish registers, non-conformist registers, Roman Catholic, Jewish and other registers as well as cemetery and cremation records.
Search for ancestors
All the records are cross-searchable, making it possible to search for ancestors by surname without needing to know where in the country they came from.
The register provides the full name, date of burial, age at death, name of the county, parish and the church or chapel where the burial took place.
These details have been compiled by local family history societies, under the guidance of the Federation of Family History Societies.
Elaine Collins, a director of Findmypast.com, said: ‘We are very excited that we have been able to gather together so many local, quality records which pre-date 1837 and present them at Findmypast.com.
‘Now family history enthusiasts will be able to extend their family tree further back from the comfort of their own home – even if they live overseas. Who knows, they might find ancestors who were contemporaries of Henry VIII.’
The site has also announced that subscribers will also be able to view the Civil Service Evidence of Age index.
This new online resource contains the dates of birth or baptism for some 64,300 people born between 1752 and 1948, many of whose births do not appear in the central birth registers for England and Wales.
Ms Collins said: ‘The records were created after 1855 when the Civil Service Commission came into being and required applicants to both the Civil Service entry examinations and its pension scheme to provide evidence of age.
‘For those whose births had not been registered in England and Wales, declarations as to birth were submitted, often in the form of hand-written letters.’
Ms Collins added: ‘The records mainly relate to lower-ranking civil servants, including prison officers, postmen, museum workers, messengers and engineers.
‘The collection covers both successful and unsuccessful applicants to the Civil Service who were otherwise unable to prove their date of birth. This was either because they were born before July 1 1837 when civil registration began in England and Wales, or they were born overseas, or their birth was not registered.
‘This new online resource will therefore enable many family historians to fill some long-standing gaps in their family tree.’
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