There is so much information online, both paid for and free, it is often difficult to know where to start to look. Following on from my top top 5 Irish sites article , I have put together a list of the 10  free British genealogy websites I consider essential for family historians



This site has the aim of transcribing all indexes of births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales from 1837 (the start of civil registration) to 1984. Volunteers have been transcribing records since 1998 and the project  is largely complete now, with only some later years still to do. Details of coverage can be found here. The BMD indexes are very useful in themselves, but the information in them is also needed when ordering copies of vital records from the GRO  (Government Record Office).



FreeCen is a sister site to Free BMD. The aim here is to transcribe the 19th Century UK census data (1841-1891). A great deal of work has been completed and details of coverage can be found here. Not much work has been done on the 1881 census as this is freely available on other sites such as Family Search. 

Family Search 


The Family Search site is a fantastic resource and is on most lists of free Genealogy resources. For The UK it holds many church records (mostly transcriptions) as well as census and some military records.

Scotland’s Places 


This is a Scottish Government site and is often overlooked by researchers with Scottish ancestry. You used to have to pay to access these records but they are now free. A list of the records on the database can be found here. Probably the most useful to the family historian are the tax records which include delights such as the Clock and Watch Tax Rolls.  

Lost Cousins 


Lost Cousins is unique, there really is really nothing else like it on the web. The idea is that you enter all the relatives you have from a certain census, usually the 1881 England, Wales, Scotland, 1880 US and 1911 Irish censuses. The site’s algorithm will then match you with anyone else who has entered the same data. If there is a match, you will likely have found a distant cousin. I would recommend that any serious family history researcher should join up and enter their data. They will also be able to receive the excellent frequent newsletter.

Note: although it is free to join, enter your data and use the search facility; if there is a match, one of the “cousins” will have to be a subscriber. A subscription is only GBP10.00 a year though.

Find A Grave


This site records the graves of people around the World including the UK. It relies on volunteer contributors to photograph and record inscriptions. It is fully searchable and has just had a serious makeover.



Free Reg is a sister site to Free BMD and Free Cen. It is another volunteer site with the aim of transcribing all church and non conformist records. It is fully searchable, but the work is far from complete. You will need to check individual parishes to see how much is available.

University of Leicester Special Collections 


This is a magnificent collection of scanned UK trade directories from the 1760s to the 1910s. The collection is not searchable, but is browsable by place, so you may be able to find your ancestors if you know where they lived. The University has an agreement with Ancestry so if you have a subscription with this site, you can search by name.

Grace’s Guides 


I’m very interested in where and how ancestors worked. If you have ancestors that were employed in British industry and you know who their employer was, you may find some information about the company on this site. There are company histories, advertisements and period magazine articles. This site is well worth a browse as there is lots of fascinating information.

For more information about this website see Free British Industrial History for Genealogy Research.

London Lives 


If any of your ancestors lived in London, then this site is definitely worth a look. The collection is not very comprehensive, but it does have manuscripts from 8 archives and 15 datasets ranging from criminal court records to coroner and hospital records. You might get lucky!

For lots more British genealogy links see:

For more great free resources see: 120 Free Genealogy Websites

Here are some British genealogy books that you may find useful:

Changing the subject slightly, if you are a mystery fan as well as a genealogist, you may very well like genealogical mysteries such as these:

Click here to see it on Amazon

There are more genealogy books in our Resources section.

Good luck with your research!

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10 Great Free British Family History Sites. Bespoke Genealogy
Top 10 Free Sites for British Genealogy. Bespoke Genealogy
10 free essential British genealogy websites. Bespoke Genealogy
Top 10 free British genealogy websites. Bespoke genealogy
British genealogy 10 free websites. Bespoke Genealogy
10 Free British genealogy resources. Bespoke Genealogy
Top 10 free UK genealogy websites. Bespoke Genealogy
British genealogy: top 10 free websites. Bespoke Genealogy
The best free British genealogy websites. Vintage cartoon of a British guardsman talking to a sailor on the coast.