Surrey History Centre is happy to offer free advice and information on our archive and local studies collections. We also have catalogues, indexes and research guides to help you with your research, and some Surrey records are online.
You are welcome to visit Surrey History Centre to undertake your own research, or you can choose to use our paid research service.
The Research Service can search a range of historical documents and local studies collections for names, properties, or topics on your behalf that are held at Surrey History Centre.
Most of the records we hold can be freely consulted in our searchroom. However some records are subject to access restrictions because they contain potentially sensitive information. We will check such records before releasing the information and may need to exempt from disclosure some or all of the information requested because of its sensitive nature. In these cases you will be informed of the reason. Because some requests for potentially sensitive information require lengthy searches of un-indexed and unstructured records, which have survived incompletely (such as school and hospital records), we may charge a fee to carry out the research necessary to tell you whether or not we hold specific information. For more information please see Further information about some classes of records subject to access restrictions. We also charge for copies of documents - please see Surrey History Centre table of fees.
It is worth checking which records we hold before commissioning a search, by consulting our Research Guides or viewing our catalogues by going to Search for archives or books at Surrey History Centre.
We hold a large variety of material that is useful for genealogical searches including:
- Parish registers (baptisms, marriages and burials)
- Census returns for Surrey
- Land Tax
- Poor law records
- Manorial court records
- Electoral registers.
- Ordnance Survey maps
- Tithe and enclosure maps
- Manorial records
- Census returns
- Sale particulars
When requesting research on a property, it would be helpful if you could enclose with the application form a map on which you have clearly marked the property in question. This will enable us to locate your property precisely on older documents such as tithe maps.
Transcriptions and translations
Often archive material and fragile documents such as title deeds, bound volumes and court rolls cannot be photocopied for conservation reasons, or the writing can be difficult to read.
Transcriptions of English documents will be undertaken as part of the research service but only of documents that are held by Surrey History Centre.
Translations of Latin documents will be arranged where feasible and transcriptions will be considered. However, please bear in mind that this can be a time consuming process.
For our current search fees please see our Surrey History Centre table of fees.
The search fee includes VAT, postage, administration, photocopies and printer copies wherever relevant. The period of time charged will include report writing and administrative work connected with the search. No fee will be refunded. To ensure a reasonable turnover, we cannot accept lengthy or open-ended research requests, and have a limit of a maximum of three hours of research at a time. We are unable to undertake research on rights of way, access and boundary disputes.
If you are unsure as to how much search time will be needed we recommend an initial search of one hour to begin with, and at the end of that hour we will advise how to proceed further. If you wish for more research to be carried out, an additional application form will have to be submitted. This procedure safeguards against customers who may be disappointed with a negative response from a lengthy and expensive search.
Short searches of up to 30 minutes, can be undertaken for a half hour fee. For example we will check entries for baptisms, marriages or burials provided you can supply a name and an approximate date (within 2 years).
Stipulated search times apply to searches in certain classes of records which are subject to access restrictions to establish whether or not we hold the specific information you are seeking: see Further information about some classes of records subject to access restrictions.
We endeavour to complete all research within a month of receipt. However, if demand is high, you may experience some delay. If this is the case, you will be informed and your research will be dealt with as soon as possible.
For an additional charge, we can offer an express service where customers require a reply within 48 hours of receipt of payment. This service is subject to staff availability and may not always be available; please contact us to enquire before commissioning a search.
How to use the research service
Requests for searches should be submitted on the Research Service Application Form, see below, which must be completed as clearly and precisely as possible to avoid delays, and be returned to us with full payment. Please use a separate sheet if you feel your request is better explained in this way. If you have a number of individual search requests, it is helpful if you prioritise these searches in case time is insufficient.
We accept payment either by cheque or Credit/Debit Card, accompanying the application form. For security reasons please supply the card details by post, telephone or fax and not email. Payment must be received before we undertake the research.
Receiving your results
Results of the search will be sent in the form of a report with copies of relevant material where possible, but there can be no guarantee that a search will provide a positive response.
However, the experienced staff of Surrey History Centre will carry out the search in a professional and conscientious manner in order to obtain the most satisfactory and accurate results possible.
If the work is completed with more than one hour to spare, we can retain 1 hour's credit. Alternatively you may indicate on the form that you are happy for staff to continue the research using their discretion if the time paid for exceeds the time taken to complete the work. If the box is not ticked, we will complete the work that has been requested and advise you in the letter that we hold 1 hour's credit for you against future research.