Guide to Roots UK

Roots UK offers you the ability to search through multiple databases with one click, so you can find and access likely entries quickly. We have the electoral roll for London in 2005; birth, marriage and death index records for England & Wales from 1837-2005; and census transcripts for selected counties from 1841-1891; offering you a unique cross-section of genealogical and people-finding resources.

Birth, marriage & death records index

Vital birth, marriage and death (BMD) records provide you with the starting point for family history research. We have the index records, as published by the General Register Office, to all births, marriages and deaths recorded between 1837-2005 in England and Wales. Searching by name, you can find the life events of your ancestors and their index references.

From 1837-2005 we have scanned images of the original index pages online, and from 1984-2005 they are in database format. The latter database includes SmartSearch™ facilities which help you to navigate the records: allowing you to find one partner from a spouse’s details; children from details of their parents; and links to possible birth-dates from 1984-2005 death records.

Once you’ve found birth, marriage or death records, you can apply to the GRO for record certificates using the index references you find (for a precise list of the details that appear on birth/marriage/death certificates, go to our ‘Help’ section). You can then look to the census in order to find more detailed data on your ancestors, and add flesh to the bones of BMD records.

If you want to see where people with a particular surname live(d) you can try creating a surname-distribution map from the BMD data — it’ll allow you to see at a glance how people have moved around the country.

The census for England & Wales

The census is a unique historical document, invaluable for both personal genealogical research and for those with a broader interest in social history. Taken every 10 years, the first comprehensive census was completed in 1841, when a team of enumerators was specially employed to count the population, and in particular to list all members in households and institutions. Effectively, the census is a snapshot in time- it gives you great insight into your ancestors’ lives, and directions for your research that you never knew existed.

Our census transcripts give you all the data on the original census pages in clear, typed text, allowing you to read all of the details clearly. A single search will show you how many results in our selected range of counties have been found which match the search criteria. There are linked images online for many of the county transcripts, so you can see the original images first-hand.

The search results for each entry will list all the details on the original page entry including (as appropriate for the year): name, age, occupation, address, birthplace, registration district; and includes a helpful ‘estimated year of birth’ feature to aid your calculations. There is also a folio reference which refers to the set and page number of the micro-film records in the Public Records Office. With an advanced search, you can refine results by adding age and/or occupation to your search criteria. Also, SmartSearch™ enables you to click to view family members living in the same household as your search entry and an automated search for a person's birth/marriage/death record where appropriate.

Transcribing the entire census is a time-consuming process so we have made available everything we have done so far and as transcripts and page images for new counties and years become available you will get immediate access to them.

Electoral roll

Together with the 1984-2005 BMD, the electoral roll for London in 2005 is an extremely useful people-finding tool; carrying the name and address of everyone old enough to be entitled to vote. The electoral roll is updated every year with the personal information given by prospective voters to the Electoral Registration Office.

Enter a name to receive search results listing name, nationality, elector’s reference, and full address details including postcode. The database covers all districts in London, helping you locate old friends and neighbours, relatives and missing persons throughout the capital. An advanced search will allow you to enter more search criteria, including address and postcode.