Beyond the parish chest – pre-19th century resources

When I tell people what I do for a living, I often get the response “Well it’s easy isn’t it now, everything’s online!” but actually there is only about 15% to 20% of records which can help research our ancestors available online. Of course, this is growing all the time.

My real passion is researching family history before the 19th century. And whilst this can include the limited records available online there is vast array of resources available to the family historian both in local and national archives and for me there is nothing more thrilling than getting your hands on a document that has been around for a few hundred years.

Many of the records available in local and national archives are unlikely to ever make it online, save in an indexed and/or transcribed format, because of the very nature, age and delicacy of such records.

This therefore is the first in a series of blogs examining some of the records to be found in local and national archives taking our research beyond the parish registers and and the records of the parish discussed in earlier blogs, some of which continue into the 19th and 20th century.

In this blog, I am simply going to provide an alphabetical list of records and approximate dates they cover. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and all manner of records can be found in your local archives and the National Archives. The best way to find out what they have available is to search the online catalogue for your local archives and the National Archives discovery catalogue ( Or contact your local archives to see how they can help.

The records include:

Apprenticeship Records 1563 to 1811

Chancery Court records 14th Century onwards

Deeds 12th century onwards

Ecclesiastical Court records (Ecclesiastical courts were created in 1072 but survival of records varies)

Education records 1500 onwards

Hearth Tax 1662 to 1666; 1669 to 1674

Inquisitions Post Mortem 13th century to 1661

Land Tax records 1693 to 1963

Lay subsidy rolls 13th century to 1624

Manorial records 13th to 20th Century

Militia Lists 1757 to 1831

Monumental Inscriptions

Newspapers 18th century onwards

Occupation records mid-17th century inwards

Pipe Rolls 1581 – 1591

Poll books (electoral roll) 1696 onwards (1832 onwards)

Poll Tax specific years from 1377

Protestation Oath Returns 1641

Quarter Session Records 1361 to 1971

Solemn League and Covenant 1644

Trade directories mid-17th century onwards

Tudor and Stuart Muster rolls 16th and 17th century

Wills and Probate records 1384 to 1858; 1858 to date

Window tax 1696 to 1834

Some of the above topics will cover several record sources and not all these sources will be covered in an individual block, similar records will be discussed in a single blog.

If you would like to know more about these records, why not subscribe to my blog and receive an email notification when a new blog is available.

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