Best British and Irish Genealogy Websites of 2013

By David A. Fryxell Premium


Ask About Ireland
This newcomer to our 101 Best Websites list offers free searching of Griffith’s Primary Valuation, a key resource for 19th-century Irish genealogy research. That’s just part of its everything-Irish pot of genealogical gold, which also includes free e-books, online services for libraries, and cultural info.
A new design and global reach make this collection of more than 850 million records worth a look. It’s best for researching England and Wales, including parish, probate, military and civil registration records, but also covers English-speaking countries worldwide. You can choose to pay per view or subscribe for $40 a year.

Another website with an increasingly global reach—including US federal censuses—findmypast remains essential for British research. New additions include Welsh parish registers and English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish newspapers to the 1700s. Those join parish records, UK censuses, civil registrations, passenger lists and more. Complete access is $16.66 a month.

Thanks to volunteers bravely risking eyestrain and carpal-tunnel syndrome, new records are being added all the time to this free site for UK civil registration records of births, marriages and deaths (1837-1983). The total topped 229 million last we looked and continues to grow. Similarly tireless efforts power sibling sites for UK censuses and parish records.

National Archives of Ireland
Irish eyes will be smiling when they light upon this site, which grants free access to 1901 and 1911 Irish censuses, soldiers’ wills (1914-1917) and Tithe Applotment Books (1823-1837). The latter are an early 19th century precursor to Griffith’s Valuation; this site contains the actual images from the books.

National Archives–UK
A new structure here separates searching for research guidance from searching the more than 11 million documents in the Discovery online catalog. Still stumped? Access to Archives lets you try more than 400 other record offices and repositories holding works dating as far back as the eighth century. Also new are online historical criminal records from England and Wales.

Origins Network
South London Burials (1545-1905) and Thom’s Irish Directories (1845-1900) are new to the 80 million British and Irish genealogy records at this subscription site (about $84 a year for unlimited access). Will indexes and probate documents may unlock English mysteries, while Griffith’s Valuation and the 1851 and 1901 Dublin city censuses can reveal Irish kin.

The 1905 Valuation Rolls and genealogies of famous Scots are new at this site, which also includes free databases of wills and testaments (1500-1925) and coats of arms (1672-1907). Pay-per-view resources offer vital records from parish, Catholic and statutory registers and censuses (1841-1911).