Cover image for Genealogical research in England's Public Record Office : a guide for North Americans
Genealogical research in England's Public Record Office : a guide for North Americans
Reid, Judith P.
Personal Author:
Second edition.
Publication Information:
Baltimore, MD : Genealogical Pub., [2000]

Physical Description:
xiv, 167 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
"Local record offices of England and Wales": p. 85-93.

Spine title: Genealogical research in England's PRO.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
CS49 .R45 2000 2ND EDITION Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room-Reference-Ethnic Collection

On Order



This guide explains the basics for using England's Public Record Office (PRO) for genealogical research. It covers everything from what a person can and ought to bring with them and where to find food and lodging nearby, to the obvious necessities of researching and photocopying in the PRO library. Reid, head of the Local History and Genealogy Reading Room at the Library of Congress, and Fowler, archivist at the Society of Genealogists in London, provide information on emigration and immigration records, as well as other records such as military, marriage, birth, death, tax, and probate records. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Author Notes

Judith Prowse Reid is Head of the Local History and Genealogy Reading Room and British Isles Genealogy Specialist at the Library of Congress
Simon Fowler is the archivist at the Society of Genealogists in London

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This inexpensive and clearly written guide will save Americans who travel to England for genealogical research many hours of frustration. It constantly emphasizes the need for preparation before visiting and warns about the delays that may be experienced in the delivery of documents. After extolling the vast quantities of material to be found, it bluntly states that, "However, the PRO is not the place to begin a genealogical enquiry." What is the PRO? It is a collection, somewhat similar to our National Archives, of all documentation resulting from legal, marital, civil, military, religious, and other decisions that have affected the lives of British citizens. The book starts with helpful details on how to reach the new building in Kew by Underground, bus, or private car and adds details about getting a reader's ticket, photocopying, and the like. It then offers a list of document codes, such as the AO group (Exchecquer and Audit), the PROB group (Prerogative Court of Canterbury), and so on. There is also a list of guides (some of them only leaflets) that should be read before arrival. The bulk of the text is made up of general descriptions of the various kinds of documents within each grouping--emigration, censuses, births, deaths and marriages, army, prisoners, wills, etc. There are also maps of the counties, both before and after the boundary changes of 1974. An appendix lists addresses, by county, of local record offices. An extensive bibliography gives full data for all titles cited in the text as useful guides. Finally there is an index to all the records in the PRO, arranged by code letter and number. The author advises her fellow Americans that much of their work in pedigree hunting has been done for them by the Mormons and published in the Family History Library series by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). She urges them to make use of the International Genealogical Index (IGI) and the Ancestral File, both of which cover all of England and are on microfiche or CD-ROM at Family History Centers throughout the U.S. Appropriate use of these should be made before attempting the masses of PRO documents in England. The book is still very useful, particularly for the specialist who has exhausted the LDS sources in the States, or for whom perhaps a date in the IGI is suspect--too young, or too old--or two persons with the same name. A military record, an emigration roster, or the probated will in the PRO may solve the problem. (Reviewed Aug. 1996)

Library Journal Review

Library of Congress reference librarian and LJ reviewer Reid provides a thorough guide for North Americans wishing to investigate genealogical or historical information in the Public Record Office (PRO) in Kew and London, England. (The PRO is the English equivalent of the National Archives in Canada and the United States.) Though it has rich holdings and unique source materials, it is not the place to begin a genealogy inquiry. One of Reid's objectives is to help researchers identify many of the PRO records that may be available from other, more convenient institutions. After helping distinguish the "when" and "why," she gives helpful logistical information for consulting the PRO. From then on she focuses on areas of particular interest to North American researchers. She covers records pertaining to emigration and immigration along with other principal record classes. Anyone researching British heritage will find this a helpful book in planning the investigation.‘Scott Hightower, New York Univ. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The Public Record Office (PRO), the British equivalent to the National Archives in the US and Canada, holds records dating from 1086 CE for England and Wales. This guide focuses specifically on PRO records, 1600 and later, of interest to North American genealogists. Emphasis is given to PRO records of emigration and immigration, vital statistics, probate, taxation, military service, and nonconformist (non-Church of England) churches. Reid provides an introduction to research facilities, transportation issues, hours of operation, and access. In addition, she identifies PRO records available in the US and Canada to enable researchers to review them prior to visiting England. An entire chapter is devoted to special finding aids for the PRO and their value for North Americans, and a supplemental index provides a listing of the major record groups stored with the office. Appendixes cover critical topics of county boundaries, addresses of local record offices, and categories of local government records. Recommended for libraries and historical societies with well-developed genealogical collections and for professional genealogists. F. R. Levstik Kentucky Department for Libraries & Archives

Table of Contents

Illustrationsp. ix
Prefacep. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Chapter 1 When to Use the Pro, and Whyp. 1
Getting Startedp. 2
Vital Statisticsp. 3
Researching Published Sourcesp. 4
Searching Archival Recordsp. 5
About This Guidep. 7
Chapter 2 A Guide to the Pro's Facilitiesp. 9
Getting to the PROp. 9
Locationp. 9
Transportation to the PRO at Kewp. 11
Accommodationsp. 11
Hoursp. 13
Accessp. 13
Using the PROp. 13
What You Can Bringp. 14
Finding and Ordering Documents at Kewp. 14
Photocopiesp. 15
Eating and Other Facilitiesp. 15
Professional Research Assistancep. 17
Friends of the PROp. 17
The PRO Libraryp. 17
The Family Records Centrep. 17
Chapter 3 Using the Pro: Finding AIDSp. 23
Organization of PRO Recordsp. 23
General Guidesp. 25
Handbooks and Class Listsp. 25
Special Guidesp. 29
Tools for North American History Researchp. 30
Chapter 4 Emigration and Immigrationp. 37
Overviewp. 37
General Sources on Emigrationp. 38
Before You Comep. 39
Records on Emigrants to North Americap. 41
Correspondence and Registersp. 41
Passports, Port Books, and Passenger Listsp. 47
Land Grantsp. 49
Convicts and Bonded Emigrants Transported to Americap. 55
American Loyalists' Claimsp. 57
Records on Immigrants to Englandp. 60
Naturalizationp. 61
Denizationp. 61
Aliensp. 62
Palatinesp. 62
Chapter 5 Other Recordsp. 65
Censuses 1841 to 1901p. 65
Vital Statistics in Nonconformist Church Recordsp. 67
Birth, Death, and Marriage Recordsp. 70
Birth, Death, and Marriage Records of the British Overseasp. 71
Births, Deaths, and Marriages at Seap. 72
Probate, Wills, and Other Death Recordsp. 73
Wills and Letters of Administrationp. 73
Inventoriesp. 75
The Death Duty Registersp. 76
Military Recordsp. 77
Armyp. 77
Militia Listsp. 82
Royal Air Forcep. 82
Royal Marinesp. 83
Royal Navyp. 84
Prisoners of Warp. 85
Merchant Marine Recordsp. 85
Taxationp. 88
Apprenticeship Recordsp. 88
Hearth Taxp. 89
Association Oath Rolls, 1696 to 1697p. 90
Mapsp. 91
Parliamentary Papersp. 94
Court Recordsp. 96
Appendix A Local Record Offices of England and Walesp. 99
Englandp. 100
Walesp. 107
Appendix B Useful Addressesp. 109
Appendix C Historical County Boundariesp. 113
Appendix D Worksheet for Getting Readyp. 115
Appendix E Local Government Recordsp. 117
Appendix F Glossaryp. 121
Some Common Abbreviationsp. 129
Further Readingp. 129
Bibliographyp. 131
General Indexp. 153
Index to PRO Record Groupsp. 163