Family history

If you are interested in researching your family history the best place to start is with your immediate family and then work backwards. Talk to your living relatives about their parents, grandparents and other relatives.

You may also be able to find documents and certificates that are already in the family for example birth, marriage and death certificates will help you get started. Family bibles, photographs, memorabilia are also good sources of information.

Remember to take notes and keep clear records.

Once you have the beginning of the picture we recommend you coming to see us at Southampton archives where you will be able to get more information on your family in Southampton.

You may be interested in looking at the types of records listed:

Records of Births, Marriages and Deaths: Records of births, deaths and marriages registers and issues certified copy certificates for all these events occurring within the city from 1st July 1837 to the present day.

Civil records: Since 1837 registration has been the responsibility of central government. Records can be found either at the National Archives or, if the event took place at Southampton, at the Registrars office in Bugle Street.

Church records: Between 1538 and 1837 registration was the responsibility of local churches. Each church kept register books listing all the births deaths and marriages that took place in that parish. The registers for Southampton are held in the Southampton Archive. The Central Library has indexed transcripts for volumes before 1837 and microfiche copies for later years. You may find the document Index to Church of England Parish registers useful for finding records in Southampton.

International Genealogical Index (IGI): The IGI is a name index to christenings and marriages in church records. The Central Library has a microfiche copy of the index.

Census Returns: Population censuses have been taken at ten yearly intervals since 1841. The Central Library holds all the census returns for the Southampton area. Street and name indexes are available for most years. Census records for other parts of the UK for the years 1841-1901 are available via Ancestry for libraries, which is free to use on library computers, or you can use the public Ancestry site at home or on your phone. The 1911 and newly released 1921 UK Census records are available through Find My Past, another service accessible for free on library computers.

Street Directories: contain alphabetical and street by street lists of householders. The Central Library has an almost complete run of Southampton Street directories from c1840. some are also available on Plimsoll

Merchant Seamen records and crew lists: it contains over a million entries for personnel working on British registered ships between 1918-1941.

Electoral rolls, voters' lists and Poll books: based in Southampton archive we hold electoral rolls for 1832-1918 and 1930 to date, poll books for the years 1727-1837. The Central library holds electoral registers 1932 to date.

Burial records and Monumental Inscriptions: Bereavement Services hold a database of burials in Southampton. You can also find records of monumental inscriptions for most of the churchyards in the archives.

Wills: two indexes to wills are available from the central library. you can also find information on will and probate from:

Further help