Is your Surname registered?

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

Data sources


Once members register a name with the Guild, they are expected to work towards building up a substantial body of worldwide data as the data collection part of their one-name study.

The lists of data sources given on these pages represent the core data that will provide the overall context for a one-name study. But in addition to these, there are – as with genealogy generally – many other sources you will want to use to investigate individuals and family groups. One-Namers will, however, invariably take an interest in indexed material that may yield a broader set of entries for their study.

Almost every kind of genealogical source is relevant to a one-name study. As a checklist, think about the following classes of data, initially concentrating on indexed sources:

  • Vital Records: Births, Marriages and Deaths of course, but also baptisms, burials, adoptions and divorces, post mortem inquests, monumental inscriptions, bastardy examinations, wills and administrations.

  • Place data: Censuses, street directories, telephone directories, Electoral Rolls, property deeds, militia lists, tithe records, glebe terriers, manorial records.

  • Educational data: school records, university alumni, degree lists.

  • Occupational data: Censuses again, apprentice records, military records, trade and professional directories, livery companies, manorial records, trade union records.

  • Mobility data: settlement certificates, immigration, emigration, ships passenger lists, aliens registration and naturalisation records.

  • Taxation records: Lay subsidies, Poll Tax, Hearth Tax, Window Tax, Land Tax, death duties.

  • Other life events: Criminal and Court records, poor law records, workhouse records, official gazettes, newspapers, religious records, patent records.

  • Heraldic records: official (College of Arms), unofficial (Burke’s General Armoury), Heralds’ visitations.

  • Assembled biographies, pedigrees and histories: Copies may have been deposited at the Society of Genealogists, at a family history society, a local Record Office, or a local studies library.

  • Photographs: Individuals, churches, houses, occupational pictures, etc.

  • Maps: Street maps, Ordnance Survey gazetteers, place names.

Initially, you need to concentrate your efforts in the area that will give the most returns.

There are numerous other sources you could search. Look out for unusual sources mentioned in the Guild Journal and other genealogical publications. For members, the Guild WebForum and Rootsweb Mailing List are particularly good places to learn of additional sources. An increasing amount of information is available on the internet; members will find the Guild Wiki is a good place to start for finding further URLs. This is a rapidly changing area, as more information is becoming available daily.

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