St. Andrews, Holborn. Marriage Records.

The church of St Andrew Holborn is the largest of Sir Christopher Wren’s London parish churches and stands at the western end of Holborn Viaduct by Holborn Circus. It also served one of the biggest parishes in London (it actually spanned the boundary of London and Middlesex) out of which five new parishes were eventually formed.

The registers are large and contain many thousands of entries as the parish has always been a popular place to marry. More significantly, the entries from the marriage registers do not appear on the International Genealogical Index or in Boyd’s Marriage Index. Pallot’s Marriage index has entries for 1780-1837 but these give only the year and omit many of the details from the original registers. It is for these reasons that in 2003, the Society decided to embark a project to transcribe and index the registers.

The index for the period 1754-1812, comprising 18,724 marriages and around 75,000 names, is now available online.

The St Andrew Holborn marriage index records contain much more information than many other marriage indexes. For both bride and groom the following information is provided:

  • Full name – including any title
  • Age – this is simply "full age" (i.e. over 21), "minor" or unknown
  • Status – i.e. spinster/bachelor, widow/widower, or unknown
  • Occupation – though rarely stated
  • Parish and county – over 4% of grooms and nearly 3% of brides come from outside London or Middlesex
  • Parish and county as in the register – these are not always exactly the same as the standardised parish and county names. For example, because St Andrew Holborn is split between the City of London and Middlesex, sometimes the county is shown in the register as London and sometimes as Middlesex, though for searching we have included St Andrew Holborn in London.
  • Whether the register has been signed – in only a handful of cases has the register not been signed by both parties, but quite often only a mark is made – ie because the party cannot write their name. In 13% of cases the groom "made [his] mark", but in 32% of cases the bride made a mark, showing how widespread illiteracy was among women in the late 18th century.
  • How they were married – by banns or by licence
  • Date of the marriage
  • Name of the officiating clerk or minister who conducted the ceremony
  • Names of witnesses – names of two witnesses are generally present (missing in under 1/2 % of cases), but the Remarks field will often contain further witnesses’ names
  • Remarks – this section contains miscellaneous information, including, for example: name of the person or persons who gave permission for the marriage where one or both parties were minors (usually a parent but can be someone else if the parents were dead), names of further witnesses, more details of where a party came from, a fuller name for the party (e.g. if they were titled or had academic qualifications).

The vast majority – over 96% of grooms and over 97% of brides came from the City of London or Middlesex; 86% of grooms were resident in the parish itself, and over 90% of brides.

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Trinity House Records 1787-1854

Trinity House was responsible for the supervision of lighthouses round the English coast and also distributed charitable funds to disabled seamen and their families.

The Trinity House Papers cover the whole of the United Kingdom and are a very rich source of genealogical information. Covering the period 1787 to 1854, most of the papers are Petitions for aid, submitted by the seaman or, often, his widow. The Petitions contain a wealth of family information about the seaman and his dependents. Other papers include Apprenticeship Indentures of seamen, and a collection of Miscellaneous papers, consisting mainly of marriage and baptismal certificates.

The ancient Corporation of Trinity House was responsible for the supervision of lighthouses and buoys around England. Under the terms of its Charter of Incorporation granted in 1514, it was concerned also with the distribution of charitable funds which had been entrusted to it by many benefactors, for the benefit of poor disabled seamen and their widows and orphans.

Great care was always taken by Trinity House to ensure that it’s charitable funds were carefully disbursed. Every mariner or his dependent applying for help was required to give full particulars of his or her circumstances. These forms of application were known as ‘Petitions’. It is impossible to say when they were first in use but some sort of petition must have existed from the earliest days of the Corporation. Even before the Charter of 1514, it possessed almshouses at Deptford, Kent, for the benefit of distressed mariners and subsequently it acquired further almshouses at Mile End, London.

The records of Trinity House suffered severely by fire in both 1666 and 1714 and what was left was almost totally destroyed by bombing in 1940. The Society of Genealogists have all of the surviving Petitions covering 1787 to 1854.

The great majority of the Trinity House papers are Petitions with relating documents but there are two other separate collections of papers: Apprentice Indentures and Miscellaneous Papers. All three collections are searchable by the individual’s surname and any other surname that appears in the papers.

In nearly every case, the Petitions follow a stereotyped formula as the forms contain a printed set of questions which are to be answered by the applicant. The following example Petition is of Ann Bell in January 1848:

To the Honourable Master, Wardens and Assistants, of the Corporation of Trinity-House of Deptford-Strond. The humble Petition of Ann Bell, aged forty six years, residing at Queen Street, Whitehaven, Widow of John Bell,
That your Petitioner’s Husband went to Sea at the Age of 15 in the Year 1820 and was employed in the Merchant Sea Service for 27 Years, in the following Ships, and others, and in the annexed Stations:

Ship or
Vessel’s Name

Register Tonnage
Station on board
From what Place,
to what Place

of 158 tons
From Whitehaven
to Dublin



up to death

150 tons

That your Petitioner’s Husband on the 16th day of January, 1848, went on board the last named vessel early in the morning to get her into a proper Berth in the Whitehaven Harbour and the Hatches having been left off he fell into [the] Hold and was killed on the place, and she has 5 Children, viz. 2 Boys under 12 Years of Age, and 3 Girls under 14 Years of Age, viz.


born 25th February 1835

born 12 November 1837

born 10 May 1840

born 3 August 1842

Mary Ann
born 2 July 1846

That your Petitioner has no Annual Income from Real or Personal Property. That your Petitioner’s Means of Support are from her Friends, she being in a delicate state of health which not being sufficient to support herself and Family, she most humbly prays that she or her Children may be admitted to the Pension of this Corporation.

Your Petitioner will ever pray, &c.,
Ann Bell X her mark
Dated 25th January 1848.

On the other side of this Petition are certificates, one signed by the owner of the ship in which John Bell last served, another by a Medical Practitioner saying that Ann Bell is "incapable of gaining her livelihood", and the third by "two respectable Persons" (in this case six Whitehaven ship-owners sign) vouching for the truth of the Petition. Then follow five certificates of baptism of the children signed by the Curate of St James, Whitehaven, a certificate of the marriage of John Bell and Ann (formerly Dobson), at the same church, and five birth certificates of the children, on one of which the informant is "John Bell of Whitehaven, Master of the House of Correction, in attendance and grandfather of the infant". The Petition is endorsed "4s.6d." and dated 14th February, 1848. This means that the Petitioner was granted that amount monthly from the date stated.

Naturally, every Petition varies in the amount of information given and the number of documents enclosed in support of the Petitioner’s claims. As the period covered by petitions includes the whole of the Napoleonic Wars, there is a tremendous amount of valuable genealogical information about many seamen who either fought or were taken prisoner during those times.

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Boyd’s Marriage Index

Boyd’s Marriage Index is an index to English marriages taken from copies of parish marriage registers, Bishop’s transcripts and marriage licences, from the period 1538 to 1840 (when statutory registration began). It was principally the work of Percival Boyd, MA, FSA, FSG (1866-1955) and his staff.

All English counties are covered, though none completely, and the periods indexed vary according to the copies of records which were readily available. Registers from over 4,300 parishes have been indexed, a total of over 7 million names. Well over a million of these names relate to the London and Middlesex areas.

Index entries contain the last and first name of the bride and groom, the year, county and parish where the marriage took place, and the source of the record.

The Main Series contains records for the following counties: Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Cumberland, Derbyshire, Devon, Durham, Essex, Gloucestershire, Lancashire, Middlesex (includes Cities of London and Westminster), Norfolk, Northumberland, Shropshire, Somerset, Suffolk, Yorkshire.

The County of London was not formed until 1888. London parishes formerly in Surrey and Kent, south of the River Thames, are included in the two Miscellaneous Series.

The First Miscellaneous Series dates 1538-1775 includes over 1.4 million names that are not included in any of the separate county lists. The records in the First Series include the following counties: Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cheshire, Cornwall, Dorset, Hampshire, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Rutland, Staffordshire, Surrey, Sussex, Warwickshire, Westmorland, Wiltshire, and Worcestershire.

The Second Miscellaneous Series dates 1538-1837 and contains marriages from all the English counties, including gaps left by the First Miscellaneous Series.

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Boyd’s Inhabitants of London & Boyd’s Family Units

Boyd’s Inhabitants of London and Boyd’s Family Units form a collection of 70,000 handwritten sheets each containing details of a London family, mostly covering the period of 16th to 18th centuries though extending from the 13th until well into the 20th centuries.

Compiled by Percival Boyd from a miscellany of sources, these extraordinary sheets are one of the Society of Genealogists’ most valuable holdings, and provide one of the key sources for researchers into London families.

Each sheet is based upon a man who in the case of the Inhabitants of London was usually, but not always, a citizen of London. A sheet typically shows as a minimum the name of the man, the parish where he lived in London, and the date of his marriage. But many sheets show far more information, which can include: names of father and mother: names of mother’s parents: wife’s name and place she was living at the time of marriage; date and place of birth; date and place of death; date and place of marriage; notes on education and occupation; a note regarding the person’s will; children’s names, dates of birth/baptism, marriage & to whom.

The Family Units sheets can be based on a man from almost anywhere in the world, but who had close links to Britain; there are many families from the USA, from all parts of the British Isles – Scotland and Ireland as well as all over England and Wales, and all over the former British Empire. Because of the wide geographic and long time period covered by these collections, they should be searched by every researcher whose family is linked to the UK, wherever the family settled.

On average an Inhabitants of London sheet contains the names of 6-7 people; the Family Units sheets contain on average the names of over 12 people. Well over half a million names appearing in the sheets are included in the person index, so you can search on a person’s name, and optionally a year, and then view the pages containing references to that person. If you are lucky, you may then find information on a dozen or more other people related by blood or marriage to the one you searched for.

Percival Boyd continued his work on Boyd’s Inhabitants of London with a further, identically formatted set of records covering families from all of the British Isles and abroad. This set of records, Boyd’s Family Units, contains just over 10,000 hand-written sheets, each dealing with a single family. His introduction to the first (of 34) volumes states that that "this … volume consists almost entirely of, (1) the families of members of the Drapers Company of London, (2) Family Bibles from Vol.XII of Crisps Fragmenta Genealogica. He felt that "It should be possible to amplify many of these sheets as the years go by." Sadly, perhaps, this did not happen, but what Percival Boyd and his collaborators have left is a further exceptionally rich source for the family historian.

On average, a Family Units sheet contains the names of over 12 people, though, like the Inhabitants of London sheets, this number varies greatly. The index to the Family Units (which is combined with that for the Inhabitants of London) contains the names of over 137,000 people, and covers the period 16th to early 20th centuries.

To search these records, visit the Origins website where you will find Boyd’s Inhabitants of London & Boyd’s Family Units in the SoG datasets section.

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Land Tax Assessment from 1819

The Society’s Topographical collection contains many official documents relating to land, property and taxes which allows us to take a peek at the kind of financial outgoings our ancestors were faced with.

The 1819 document below can be found in the ‘Woburn’ box of documents within the Topographical Collection. It lists fifty pairs of proprietors and their occupants (often listed as ‘himself’) with the amount that is being assessed and the amount that is redeemed in tax.

 DSC 1700 thumb Land Tax Assessment from 1819

DSC 1701 thumb Land Tax Assessment from 1819

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Army Volunteers in 1799

The outbreak of hostilities with the French Republicans after the Revolution left Great Britain feeling unprepared for a possible invasion.

Lord Grenville, as Foreign Secretary, stated that ‘If the country is to be saved, the work must not be left in the hands of the government, but everyman must put his shoulder to it according to his rank and situation in life, or it will not be done’

An act was passed limited to the duration of the war authorising the raising of Volunteer corps and companies for the defence of the counties, towns and coasts, or in case of necessity, for the general defence of the kingdom.    

Most corps served without pay. Some received clothing or cash allowances from the government.

Judging by the below barber’s bill, found in the Wallingford box of the Topographical Collections at the Society of Genealogists, the 1799 volunteer corps of Wallingford, Oxford received free haircuts too.

DSC 1694 thumb Army Volunteers in 1799

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Civil Service Evidence of Age records unravel family history scandal

The Civil Service Evidence of Age for established civil servants and civil service examination candidates were collected by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) from 1855 in order to establish accurate birth dates for the purpose of either ensuring that an examination candidate was of the required age, or granting a pension.

By the 1980s, the CSC still held original documents for approximately 60,000 individuals, consisting largely of items that it would be impractical to replace, such as personal testimonials or documents from overseas. This important genealogical collection provides unique and often irreplaceable evidence of birth for which other sources are unlikely to be available.

In general, papers were not kept if the information could easily be obtained again from another source (such as through the Registrar General’s birth index). The collection consists mainly of employees who were born in a place or at a time where no state registration of births existed.

This was particularly the case for Scottish and Irish candidates and also for those born in foreign countries, on board ship (over 80 births) and in the British colonies. There are also many cases of candidates born in England after the start of civil registration whose births had not been registered: non-registration was not uncommon until fines were instituted in the 1870s.

A set of correspondence proving the age of civil servant ‘Patrick Moloney’ born 1857 in the county of Wexford, Ireland was recently unearthed and immediately flagged up as unusual.

The correspondences include a declaration from his mother ‘Johanna Maloney’ along with a forged ‘certified copy’ of the baptism entry, the REAL certified copy of the baptism entry, a certified copy of the entry from the Catholic Chaplin Wexford Workhouse records and letters from his suspicious employers requesting more information from the church and workhouse.

The employers who simply wanted to confirm the date of birth of Patrick Maloney had contacted his mother for a signed declaration and certified copy of his baptism..

The CSC was not convinced by the ‘certified copy’ of the baptism that Johanna had provided so decided to dig a little deeper. After months of corresponding, the CSC finally discovered the real circumstances behind the birth of Patrick Maloney which he himself was unaware.

According to both the workhouse and real baptism record, a ‘Mary’ Murphy gave birth to a illegitimate son Patrick Murphy on the 5th of January 1857. His father is named as Patrick Tully.

Having an illegitimate child at this time would have brought great shame on a girl and her family, this is possibly the reason why Johanna lied about her first name.

Johanna then decides to change her and her son’s surname to that of her mother’s maiden name ‘Maloney’. She then refers to herself as a widow in order to avoid the stigma of having an illegitimate child.

She convinces her priest to provide the CSC with a ‘certified’ copy of the baptism of her son under the name of Patrick ‘Malony’. The priest also lists her as a ‘Malony’ but as Mary rather than Johanna for which she is known by her son and the CSC. This is what arouses suspicion from the CSC.

Corresponding letters from a Mr. Doyle at the CSC are sympathetic towards Patrick Murphy’s mother’s blight and decide that the conflicting information regarding Patrick’s real birth details ‘”makes no difference, as long as the date is correct”. The letters suggest that Patrick Murphy is left unaware of his illegitimacy and his mother’s cover up story.

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Teachers Registrations 1870-1948

The Society of Genealogists has many useful, informative and unique original records, like the Teachers’ Registrations which give details of nearly 100,000 people who taught in England and Wales between 1870 and 1948; more than half of those are women.

Although the registration only started in 1914, people who were already teaching registered. The records cover teachers who started their careers from the 1870s on.

The original registers comprise one main alphabetical series and a second, smaller, series of registrations of deceased registered teachers (often stamped with the date of "notification of death").

The records include the teacher’s name, maiden name if applicable, date of registration, register number, professional or home address, attainments (i.e. certificates, degrees etc), training in teaching and experience details.

The Origins Network has now scanned and indexed these records to making them available online the first time.

1919 example below for Mary Banks from South Shields.

aboutboteachersex1 thumb Teachers Registrations 1870 1948

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Spotlight on the Kent Topographical Collection

The Society’s Topographical collections are arranged by county and town. Each collection is unique and contains valuable and insightful information on local, social and family history dating as far back as the 16th century.

The Kent Topographical Collection for the towns of ‘Seale’, ‘Tunbridge’ and ‘Southborough’ is particularly thrilling to look through due to the volume of original family history documents, all of which are in good condition.

An index for these collections is currently being worked on by our volunteers, which makes each box within the Topographical Collection a bit like a ‘lucky dip’ due to all of the fascinating material they contain and the huge number of family names they relate to.

A selection of documents from the Kent Topographical Collection:

A 1715 original Marriage Settlement for Edward Moyse and Ann Tomlyn from the town of Seal.

 DSC 1663 thumb Spotlight on the Kent Topographical Collection

A 1809 original Apprentice Indenture for Isaac Widge to become a Tailor.

DSC 1672 thumb Spotlight on the Kent Topographical Collection

1820 Will Probate for Edward Groombridge

DSC 1675 thumb Spotlight on the Kent Topographical Collection

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Personal Notes of a Famous Ancestor

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA on 29th August 1809 and died 7th October 1894. He was an American physician, professor, lecturer, and author. Regarded by his peers as one of the best writers of the 19th century, he was an author of valuable medical work as well as famous essays, journals and novels. such as the “Breakfast-Table” series. He was also one of the founding editors of the journal Atlantic Monthly.

The Society’s extensive document collection contains a handwritten book of notes by Oliver Wendell Holmes, in which he lists every book he read from 1881 – 1935 which includes law and medical books as well as famous novels such as ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Brontë.

 DSC 1658 thumb Personal Notes of a Famous Ancestor

19027 004 12D00777 Personal Notes of a Famous Ancestor

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