Doing Family History
Homework and advice: Study the subject, visit your local library to find out what literature exists, or see what is available to buy from the bookstall at the Record Office. For initial help
and advice contact your local Family History Group: your local record office or library should
have current lists.
Family: Remember the rest of the family! Check with other members of your family and note
all names, dates, places (family bibles are a good source).
Research Service: We offer an in-house research service into the documentary sources in
its care. Please ask for further details.
Sources from 1837 to the present day
Civil registration (documents not held at record offices): From July 1837 all births,
marriages and deaths in England and Wales should have been registered with local
registrars whose registers are, except for marriages, more informative than parish registers
held at record offices. Copies of certificates may be obtained for a fee from either
http://www.eastsussex.gov.uk/community/registration, for events that occurred in East Sussex, or
http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/community-and-life-events, for events that occurred in Brighton & Hove.
Copies of certificates from elsewhere in England in Wales can be obtained for a fee from the
General Register Office, PO Box 2, Southport, Merseyside PR8 2JD (http://www.gro.gov.uk/GRO/content/)
Copies of the national indexes are available at The National Archives. There are many on-line versions of the index, one is free
(http://freebmd.rootsweb.com) and the others are commercial (eg www.ancestry.co.uk); at
present there is free access to the Ancestry website at this office. There is a useful list of the
registration districts, and the parishes within them, on the GENUKI website
Records of civil registration in Scotland, which started in January 1855, are held by the
General Register Office for Scotland, New Register House, 3 West Register Street,
Edinburgh EH1 3YT (www.gro-scotland.gov.uk). Civil registration in Ireland started in
January 1864 and the records for the whole of Ireland, 1864-1921 and for the Republic from
1922 are held by the General Register Office of Ireland, Government Offices, COnvent Road, Roscommon (www.groireland.ie/), while records for Northern Ireland from January 1922
are held by the General Register Office (Northern Ireland), Oxford House, 49-55 Chichester
Street, Belfast BT1 4HL (www.groni.gov.uk).
Cemetery records: Some cemetery registers are available at this office and details are
included in the Guide to registers.
Census: Census returns are a useful source of genealogical information. From 1851 they give the parish of birth of individuals as well as age, occupation and relationship (if any) to
the head of the household. They are arranged by area so you do need to know which parish
to search (street indexes for some areas are available). We hold microform copies of the
census returns for eastern Sussex, 1841-1891 and for both East and West Sussex, 1901.
At this office there are is a partial surname index to the 1841 census returns for eastern
Sussex (it does not yet include Brighton) and a surname index to the 1851 census returns for
eastern Sussex; there are also national on-line indexes to the 1841-1901 census returns
(www.ancestry.co.uk) and 1911 (www.findmypast.co.uk); at present there is free access to
the Ancestry website at this office. A few earlier parish censuses are available at the record
office (details are included in the Guide to records of rating and taxation).
Other sources: We hold copies of 19th and 20th century trade and street directories and
some local newspapers. Also available are electoral registers from 1832 (please note that
universal male suffrage was only granted in 1918 and universal female suffrage in 1928), log
books and admission registers for many local authority maintained schools and an index to
obituaries in the Sussex Express, 1880 to 1920.
Wills after 1858: Since 1858 wills have been proved in civil probate registries. Indexes to
wills proved in England and Wales from 1858 to 1943 are available on fiche at The Keep and 1858 to 1966 on the Ancestry website. For copies of these wills apply to the Principal Registry of the Family Division, First
Avenue House, 42-49 High Holborn, London WC1V 6NP.
Sources before 1837
Parish registers: The registers of baptisms, marriages and burials (and banns from 1754)
which have been kept by Anglican Clergy since 1538 are the main source for genealogical
information before 1837. Those that have been deposited at this office are listed in the Guide
to registers and also in the Handlist of registers, both of which you can view on our website
(www.eastsussex.gov.uk/familytree). You can also view the detailed lists of all parish
records (registers and other records) in our on-line catalogue.
Baptism index: The East Sussex Baptismal Index is available the Reference Room. It
consists of three parts; 1700-1789 (covers all parishes), 1790-1812 (all parishes and most nonconformist registers), pre-1700 (covers only 12 parishes).
Marriage index: The Sussex Marriage Index, 1538-1837 on CD is available for use via our
in-house Research Service.
Burial index: Covers Sussex from 1813 to 1841; send £5.00 search fee per name (up to 10
entries) to Lord & Lady Teviot, 28 Hazel Grove, Burgess Hill, West Sussex RH15 0BY
(email@example.com). We hold an interim (and incomplete) copy of the
Sussex Burial Index, 1538-1900 which can be searched at this office only as part of our in-house Research Service.