Most of our Church of England parish registers 1538 to 1987 (baptisms to 1912, marriages to 1937 and burials to 1987) are now available to search and view online on ancestry.co.uk. Ancestry can be used free of charge by Surrey Libraries members in all Surrey Libraries and at Surrey History Centre.
Do you have Surrey Ancestors?
Were they born here? Did they work here, or were they even buried here?
If you want to know how and where they lived, Surrey History Centre is the ideal place to begin your ancestral journey.
With a wealth of historical sources dating as far back as the 12th century, we are your first call for family and local history research.
Prince or Pauper, Soldier or Servant?
Until we begin our ancestral journey, we may know very little about our family history. Certain key records form the backbone of our family research, all of which can be found in County Record Offices and History Centres – and Surrey is no exception!
Before civil registration (of births, marriages and deaths) began in 1837, the family historian relies heavily on parish records. These form one of the lynchpins of family history research, and provide an invaluable source for marriages, baptisms and burials. They also give us a glimpse of our ancestors' standing in the local community in the days when there were no social services.
QUOTE "Thank you so much for your help in tracing these records. I have been sitting in front of the computer having a little cry and can't wait to come back down to Surrey to view the original registers... Seeing where he was born and baptised is so comforting."
We have Church of England parish registers dating back to 1538, which cover the modern administrative county of Surrey and some parishes in Hampshire. We also hold copy registers for some of the 'old Surrey' parishes such as Lambeth, Camberwell and Southwark. We also hold some records for Methodist, Baptist, Society of Friends and many other smaller religious groups.
Living and Learning!
Census returns are an invaluable snapshot of family life in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Copies of the 1841 to 1911 returns for England and Wales can be viewed here at Surrey History Centre.
QUOTE "You have been very helpful in suggesting the different avenues I could go down with a hope of getting more information. I am very grateful for the time you have spent in trying to help me."
Beyond the census, there are many other valuable sources for the family historian to explore. Workhouse records, tithe awards, school and orphanage records and even some hospital registers. Many of these have been indexed and can be found at Surrey records online.
Surrey has a proud history of military service, with an extensive collection of records relating to the Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment and predecessors dating back to the 17th century. They provide a fascinating insight into military life within the regiments and contain a wealth of photographs, books, diaries and so much more. Our military historians are on hand to provide expert advice.
QUOTE "I greatly appreciate your research into my Great Grandfather's service and your discovery of some very interesting facts. Once again many thanks for your admirable research."
Climbing over the brick wall!
If you've come to a halt in your research, and can't find the answers online, don't despair! Record Offices such as Surrey History Centre hold a remarkable selection of resources that may help you discover something new in your family tree. Remember, you never know what may be lurking in the archives! And don't forget, our team of experts is here to help you with any family history problems or queries you may have.
QUOTE "It is so nice to come to somewhere where people are so helpful and you always feel that you can ask anything – you don't mind answering even really stupid questions! We've had a lovely morning and we'll definitely be coming back again."
Signposts to your research!
Access to all these wonderful resources is free and our helpful Research Guides will point you in the right direction. In addition to our Surrey records we have free access to Ancestry.com and FindMyPast.co.uk. You can search the Times on-line, 19th century newspapers, the burial index and so much more.
QUOTE "Thank you for your interest and enthusiasm. The Surrey History Centre provided the key to unlock the story, and I am very grateful."
Surrey History Centre is conveniently situated in Woking with good road and public transport links. We are normally open from Tuesday to Saturday but are temporarily closed from 5pm on Friday 20 March until further notice, based on current Government advice on Coronavirus/Covid-19. Further updates can be found on our website at Visiting Surrey History Centre.
When we reopen, come and see us and discover where your ancestral journey takes you!