Free ancestry searches are an important resource for budding genealogists. Knowing where and how to find your UK ancestors is integral to building an accurate and complete family tree. To find ancestors is the goal of every genealogist, but many sites are dedicated exclusively to USA ancestry or are too broad and general in nature. There are places and means to find your UK ancestors though, and we’ll show you how to do that using free ancestry searches.
America was colonized by Great Britain as were many countries around the world, so knowing how to locate UK ancestors is an important genealogical skill to have. Unfortunately British Civil registry records are not considered public records; you need to search the indexes and then apply for whichever certificate you wish to have. This can be a long and tedious process, especially if you live in a country far away from Britain.Try Ancestry.com and get 14 Days FREE!
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There is also no guarantee that the certificate you pay for won’t get lost in the mail, so perhaps free ancestry searches are a better option to start with. There are ways to search ancestors from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland for free, so let’s take a look at some free ancestry searches that might unearth our British family members.
Although there are many websites that advertise free ancestry searches, many of them allow you to search your ancestor for free, but then you are directed to a commercial partner site where you’re prompted to pay for the information. Many succumb simply because they have already spent countless hours searching, and upon finally locating (what might be) their ancestor, they fork over the money because they are tired. Always keep in mind that the term "free search" doesn’t mean free access. There are a couple of websites though, that offer genuinely free ancestry searches.
FreeCEN is run by dedicated volunteers, its goal is to provide primary and near-primary records relevant to British ancestry available online for free. They have formatted their search capabilities in a very comprehensive yet easy to understand manner, and it is an excellent resource for free ancestry records from Britain. Their free ancestry searches are dedicated specifically to the UK Census reports from 1841 – 1891, and as they are constantly being updated, it is well worth bookmarking them for future reference. If you don’t find your ancestors today, they may well not have been entered yet so a future search may reveal them. The great thing about FreeCEN is that once you have found your ancestry records, you can view them for free online.
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FreeREG is a sister site to FreeCEN, and its purpose is to host free ancestry searches of baptism, marriage, and burial records, transcribed from parish and non-conformist registers from England and Wales. So far their database contains over 4 million Burial Records, nearly 7 million Baptisms, and over 2 million Marriages, and the site is still growing. Volunteers and diligent transcribers who devote their own time and energy to make these valuable records available also man this site.
So before you rush into a subscription deal, try these two sites out first. As I mentioned they are relatively new and constantly growing, so bookmark them and check back regularly if you don’t find your ancestor in the first of your free ancestry searches. They are already being used by many researchers; in fact they are executing over 20,000 searches a day. They are popular sites already – no wonder – and those using their free ancestry searches have only good things to say about them. They are indeed great places to begin your free ancestry searches for your UK ancestors.
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