Is your Surname registered?

Our 2,768 members have registered
2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

Benefits of joining the Guild


The list below briefly summarises the services the Guild of One-Name Studies provides for its members, explains the range of study aids on offer to members, and briefly outlines the opportunities to volunteer within the Guild or to support projects that are being led or actively supported by the Guild.  The range of services is continually being increased or improved.

Much of what you see described below represents the fruit of many members’ efforts in sharing information with each other or otherwise giving up their time to help others.  The Guild encourages all new members to enter into that same spirit of sharing.

Guild Journal

The Journal of One-Name Studies is published in the first month in each quarter and issued free to all current members.  This publication contains news and articles on a variety of topics of specific interest to one-namers, written by members for members.  PDFs of all past editions back to January 1980 can be viewed by clicking here.   A Journal Index has been created which provides an index to name references or topics in articles, or to authors of articles, published in the Journal of One-Name Studies.

Annual Conference and AGM

Every year the Guild runs an annual two- or three-day residential Conference and Annual General Meeting.  Normally held in April, this is always a friendly, lively and informative event with a varied programme, enabling members to meet face to face.  Although the AGM is restricted to Guild members, the Conference is open to anyone interested in one-name studies.


The Guild runs a regular programme of day seminars each focusing on a different aspect of one-name research.  These run typically four or five times a year, in various parts of Britain.  The Guild is keen to organise similar seminars outside of the UK and will support any member who wishes to organise one. Admission is at a minimal level to recover costs.

Guild Website

The Guild’s website – – provides all the essential information about the Guild of One-Name Studies, including information on what a One-Name Study is; how to join the Guild; the history of the Guild and its aims and objectives, together with an extensive Members’ area which gives access to all the Guild’s services and benefits.

Register of One-Name Studies

The Register of One-Name Studies is in three parts:

  • Part 1: Index of Registered Surnames and Variants.  All the surnames and variants currently registered with the Guild, in strict alphabetical order with contact details for the member involved.  Characteristics of each registered study are shown by a category and codes.
  • Part 2: Alphabetical List of Members.  All current members of the Guild in alphabetical order with their membership number and their registered study surnames alongside or their contact details if they do not have a registered study.
  • Part 3: List of Librarian Studies.  A list of study material in the Guild Library for surnames other than those registered with the Guild.

Family historians who are not members of the Guild can use the Register to contact our members, who are under an obligation to answer all enquiries sent by email or reply-paid letter.

Freefone Helplines

The Guild provides free-of-charge telephone contact points in the UK, North America and Australia.  These enable both the general public and members to contact the Guild easily.  Members can seek advice on accessing and using the many Guild services.  Off-line members can communicate with the Committee and Guild postholders.  These free-of-charge numbers are manned by the Guild’s Front Office Managers, and when they are unable to answer a query a message will be passed to the most appropriate postholder within the Guild to respond.

Guild email Forum

The Guild operates a lively email list where members exchange ideas, discuss their research, and alert others to useful sources of genealogical data.  It can often generate the solution to a specific submitted research problem.  Around one-third of all members with an email address subscribe to the email Forum so a vast range of experience and expertise is on call, although many members elect simply to “lurk” and just read the discussions.

Guild Web Forum

The Guild Web Forum provides members or groups of members the ability to hold discussions on any topic relevant to One-Name Studies.  There are five separate “forums”.  Two are for all members, and three for specific groups.

  • WebForum: a single open forum for all members to see and use.  Common topics can be quickly found using the dedicated forum search box, or by the use of topic “tags” where members choose to include them. 
  • Committee: a private forum for Committee members.
  • Regional Representatives: a private forum for the regional reps.
  • Situations Vacant: an open forum specifically to keep all members informed of current vacant Guild jobs.

Guild Wiki

The Guild Wiki captures, in a structured way, members’ collective knowledge about one-name studies.  It is well worth working your way through to check or increase your knowledge.   Within a wiki, information is written and edited in real time by the users.  Any member can add information, reshape it, or add new pages.  It is extremely simple to use, and does not require knowledge of HTML or specialist web-editing software.  The aim of this collaborative project is to create a major body of useful information and advice about how to carry out a surname study.

Chairman’s Newsletters

The Chairman broadcasts occasional emails to notify members of urgent issues, such as important news of Guild events, that can’t wait to appear in the quarterly Journal.  They are sent to all members who have notified the Guild of an email address and who have not opted out from this service.  The Newsletters can also be read on the Guild website where they are held in an archive.

Unique email address

A key benefit of membership is a free email alias which enables Guild members to create a long-term identity for their one-name study.  The service allows members to give an official email address to their researchers knowing that return emails will be automatically redirected to their personal email address.  This means that they can change their ISP and/or personal email address whenever they need without losing incoming emails or having to inform all their contacts.

Members’ Study Profiles

Every member with one or more registered names can create their own web page within the Guild’s domain to promote each of his or her registered studies across the web.  This online profile service uses a standard template and a simple online form, and it requires no technical knowledge to complete.  Profile pages are indexed by Google and other search engines, and long-time users report that a high percentage of their email traffic originates from their study’s profile pages.

Members’ Websites

The Members’ Websites Project is designed to provide a safe haven for members’ one-name study websites. Members can upload to the Project’s webserver a one-name study website concerned with any surname which they have registered with the Guild. The website will then be accessible to viewers the world over via an address like where smith is the subject of the one-name study. They can include their research data, their trees, their images, their histories, hypotheses and conclusions – everything in their one-name study. All the material uploaded can be viewed world-wide and will be available to future generations because the Guild will preserve your study if you join.

Guild Marriage Indexes

  • The Guild Marriage Index 1837-1911 is a collection of data relating to marriages in England and Wales, covering the period from the start of GRO registration in 1837 until the inclusion in the GRO Indexes of the spouse’s surname after 1911.  The index, containing data contributed by Guild members on marriages between study name and  spouse, has two main purposes.  It allows members to make available information about marriages within their own research – including supplementary details such as the spouse’s name and the date and location of the marriage – and to contact other members with linked surnames.  In addition, it pools members’ knowledge of post-1837 marriages in England and Wales to help name and map parishes against the GRO’s system of reference numbers.  The Index also helps members to narrow down a search for the particular parish where a marriage occurred.  This index was the first Guild marriage index, started over eleven years ago and now nearing a million marriage entries.
  • Since the Guild Marriage Index 1837-1911 is limited to England and Wales, with particular emphasis being placed on the GRO data, the Guild has added a Worldwide Marriage Index, an all-inclusive index for any marriage, any time, anywhere.  The data held for each marriage includes the names of the marriage partners, the year (optionally the full date), and the country (optionally with full location details).  The purpose is similar to that of the GMI, in that it offers the potential for members to find their study surnames recorded as the spouse name in other members’ study data, and so collaborate to share their data.
  • The Scottish Index (GDI) is in some respects the Scottish equivalent of the Guild Marriage Index, but is designed to hold the more extensive detail included on Scottish certificates compared to their English and Welsh counterparts.  The GDI indexes all the names on a Scottish marriage record, not only those of the bride and groom but also both parties’ father and mother, as well as the witnesses.  In Scotland a woman does not lose her maiden name upon marriage, but can use either name, while a widow who subsequently remarries can be known by any of her names.  This index also reflects another benefit of the Scottish system, which is that a researcher can download a copy of the marriage record from the online service ScotlandsPeople for a fraction of the cost of buying an official marriage certificate. 

Guild Marriage Challenges

The marriage search project, known as the Guild Marriage Challenge, is one of the Guild’s most successful cooperative projects.  Marriage challenges have mostly focused on marriages occurring in England and Wales in the period from 1837 to 1911, but successful Marriage Challenges have also been undertaken in Scotland, in New South Wales in Australia, and in Massachusetts in the USA.  Marriage Challenge volunteers take on a local Registration DIstrict and announce their Marriage Challenge in the Guild Journal, the Forum, and the Guild website.  Members are invited to submit their General Register Office index entries for the marriages referencing their registered name, and the challenger then searches the local records to find the requested marriages.

The full marriage record usually provides additional details not found in the indexes (such as spouse name, fathers’ names and occupations and the location of the marriage) which will often help with the reconstruction of family trees without the cost of purchasing the marriage certificates.  This information will be provided to the requester usually in the form of a copy marriage certificate or in a spreadsheet. 

Guild Probate Index

Wills are vital source records for one-name studies, with many names mentioned as well as that of the testator.  All names mentioned in a will other than that of the testator may be of interest to other Guild members, and are collated in the Guild Probate Index, as a rich source of surname data for one-namers.  All wills and administrations are eligible for entry, from the earliest years up to 1967 and from any country in the world.  Unlike Calendars of Wills, which are organised by name of testator, this is an index of people named in Wills whose surnames differ from that of the testator.

BMD Vault

The Guild BMD Vault is a repository of Birth, Marriage and Death data contributed by Guild members.  The aim is to provide – for free – the information which would appear on an official birth, marriage or death certificate, for instance the standard BMD Certificates issued (at a price) by the GRO for England and Wales.  The BMD Vault is designed to hold all the information provided on a birth, marriage or death record (from anywhere, any time), with all names indexed for search.  If wished, the output from England-and-Wales entries can be in the form of “Faux Certificates” – a copy certificate similar to those produced by the GRO.  A search may be made for the information required, and the search results data will be returned in table form.

Inscriptions Index

Members frequently come across lists of names in various media – honours boards in schools and colleges, local war memorials, dedication plaques, society trophies, etc. – which could be very useful to anyone studying the names shown.  The Inscription Index provides a means of searching such lists of names, and also links through to photographs of the inscriptions.

Mentoring service

The Guild has set up a network of mentors to help new and inexperienced members find their way around the Guild’s facilities and to advise on the critical issues they may face when starting their studies and developing them further.  Mentors can also direct members to the full range of Guild services on the website.  Some mentors may be experts in specific aspects of surname studies, but all of them are capable of giving good advice to new or relatively inexperienced researchers in an open and friendly way.

DNA testing advice

Supplementing advice available from those Forum members who are already running DNA projects, a specific email advice and support service is available to members about running a DNA testing programme within the wider context of a one-name study.  This advice can range from  basic “how to” early-stage information and help with project set-up to explanations of more complex issues and project options.  Members should also contact the DNA helpline to arrange for the Guild logo to be displayed against their surname in the databases of the testing companies which support the scheme.


The Guild publishes several booklets and leaflets of interest to one-name researchers, including:

  • Seven Pillars of Wisdom – the Art of One-Name Studies
  • Sources for one-name studies
  • Organising a one-name gathering
  • 100 top tips for one-namers

These, together with other one-name material including Steve Archer’s British Surname Atlas CD, are available through the Sales page.

Regional Representatives

The Guild operates a system of over 60 Regional Reps in various countries around the world.  These volunteers are well placed to provide advice and guidance, particularly to new members.  Some hold local meetings where members can discuss their studies, or publish a regular regional newsletter or an annual report.  As well as greeting and supporting members in their area, many Regional Reps promote the Guild at events in their regions or represent it at family history shows and fairs.

Representation on other bodies

The Guild is often represented at meetings of various genealogical organisations – such as the Australian Federation of Family History Organisations, the Federation of Family History Societies, the Scottish Association of Family History Societies, and TNA Digital Archiving and User Group.

Social networking

The Guild is represented on all the major social networking sites.  These sites provide an alternative way of connecting with other Guild members and receiving news from the Guild. 

Facebook is currently the largest and most popular social-networking website.  The Guild has a public “fan” page on Facebook which is open to Guild members as well as the general public.  Guild members on Facebook who “like” the Guild page will receive items from the Guild in their news feed, and can comment on the posts.  The Guild also has a private group on Facebook for members only, which provides a space for members to share news, interesting links and photographs. and to compare notes on the effective use of Facebook to promote their one-name studies.

Google+ International virtual meetings

The Guild has the facility to arrange “hangouts” via Google+ at which a wide range of subjects are discussed.  This facility allows members to communicate with each other from the four corners of the world.  Regular monthly hangouts are held for Australasia & Europe and for the Americas & Europe, at which a fascinating range of one-name study topics have been discussed.

Look-up services

The Guild provides a range of look-up services, with the permission of the database vendors, to assist members in the collection of genealogical data that would not otherwise be readily available.  These sources include:

  • Soldiers died in the Great War
  • Second World War dead
  • Armies of the Crown
  • The Biography Database
  • The Complete Peerage
  • Cracroft’s Peerage
  • The Westminster Historical Database

For the benefit of those Guild members with a registered study who do not have email or internet access, the Guild also offers them a look-up service to the various databases held by to assist in the collection of genealogical data. 

Newswatch project

The “Adopt a Newspaper!” Newswatch project was introduced in July 2010.  Members volunteer to “adopt” a local newspaper by checking it for announcements that cite registered Guild names, and then sending those details to the relevant member.  Newspaper adopters agree to look at the family announcements – births, marriages, and deaths – and some search other articles as well.

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness

“Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness” (RAOGK) is a genealogical tradition where researchers give generously of their time and expertise, with no expectation of reward, in order to assist others.  Guild members who have particular skills or knowledge that would be of use to other researchers, or access to specific repositories, can offer their services to other Guild members.  Similarly, Guild members can make a request of other Guild members to provide a service.


Much of the Guild’s library material has been digitised and now forms more than 200,000 pages of catalogued data.  Much of this comprises one-name newsletters sent to the Guild over the years by individuals and one-name societies.  All are available through the Online Library Catalogue (in the Members’ Room of the website) and more than half are accessible via a text search.  All new material deposited with the Guild’s e-Librarian in a digitised format will be incorporated into the Guild’s Online Library Catalogue, and, where the originator has given authority to release the material, become available to members via the Guild web site. 

The Librarian is also willing to receive back-up copies of members’ data via email, or on CD or DVD, to enable them to store their essential data at a remote site away from their normal working environment.

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