Ancestry hunters' bonanza as London records go online

Mar 26, 2009
The London skyline. Some 77 million documents dating from the 16th to the 20th centuries and including the ancestors of David Beckham and Britney Spears are to go online, under a service launched Thursday.

Some 77 million documents dating from the 16th to the 20th centuries and including the ancestors of David Beckham and Britney Spears are to go online, under a service launched Thursday.

The archives from the London Historical Records feature details of around 165 million of the British capital's citizens over the centuries, including head of state Oliver Cromwell and poet William Blake.

Around 250,000 records are currently available, with all 77 million uploaded by 2011.

The final will include parish and workhouse records, electoral rolls, wills, land tax records and school reports.

Tracing the family history has become an increasingly popular hobby in Britain, thanks to the availability of records online and television programmes showing celebrities discovering the quirks of their ancestry.

Besides Londoners, around 135 million people in countries like the United States, Canada, Australia and South Africa may be able to trace their forefathers.

"We estimate that half of Brits will be able to find an ancestor in this collection," said Josh Hanna, senior vice president of the website Ancestry.co.uk which is hosting the London records.

The collection "pre-dates and census, and documents the history of a great city and its people, their birth, poverty, fortunes, faith, education, marriage and death," he said.

"No city in modern history other than London can claim to have been the capital of such a far reaching empire, which really is why this collection is of such significance not only to Brits, but also to many others around the world with back to Britain."

English football icon Beckham's three-times-great-grandparents' marriage is listed, while US singer Spears' great-grandfather, George Portell, is listed in the Tottenham district's marriage records for 1923.

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: New privacy battle looms after moves by Apple, Google

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Web site links African-Americans to ancestors' voyage

Jan 06, 2009

In a major advance in genealogical research, African-Americans will be able to trace the routes of slave ships that transported 12.5 million of their ancestors from Africa as early as the 16th century.

Piecing together the Medieval Middle East

Apr 10, 2006

An important collection of ancient Jewish and Arabic documents, equal in significance to the Dead Sea Scrolls, and discovered as fragments in an old storeroom, has received a major grant for its upkeep. The Taylor-Schechter ...

'Deaf by God' tried in Old Bailey records

May 05, 2008

Deaf people on trial were granted the right to an interpreter as early as 1725, according to Old Bailey records examined by UCL (University College London) scientists. The use of family and friends to interpret court proceedings ...

Opening the door to Europe's archives

Nov 21, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Historical archives can be difficult to search, especially when relevant documents are held by institutions in different countries. A European project has shown how a single online portal with a simple graphical ...

Canine genome is studied in Britain

Jul 12, 2005

Some dog breeds are more susceptible to particular diseases than others and British scientists want to identify their genetic predisposition.

New York state sues the U.S. EPA

Feb 15, 2006

New York state has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, accusing it of violating the Freedom of Information Act.

Recommended for you

Twitter-funded lab to seek social media insights

11 hours ago

A new Twitter-funded research project unveiled Wednesday, with access to every tweet ever sent, will look for patterns and insights from the billions of messages sent on social media.

Facebook makes peace with gays over 'real names'

13 hours ago

Facebook on Wednesday vowed to ease its "real names" policy that prompted drag queen performers to quit the social network and sparked wider protests in the gay community and beyond.

User comments : 0