18th Century records

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Long 18th century = 1688 to 1837

Go as wide in your search as you can, look at the children and their connections.

Looking for census substitutes which include fragmentary nominal householder lists found locally in record offices and libraries, supplement parish registers but may not survive in all areas.

1800 Census Act:

  • To take account of the population of Greta Britain.
  • Data from BMB for the 18th century.
  • How many working in agriculture, trades and handicrafts. Headcount without names.
  • Administered by the Home Office by John Rickman, enacted by clergy and overseers of the poor on 10th March 1801, 1811, 1821, 1831.
  • Some forms survive with church papers.
  • SoG have some on the catalogue - search '1801 census' etc

Records generated by the Parish:

  • Churchwarden accounts - pew rents, bequests, church rates, relief of the poor.
  • Vestry minutes - included administrative functions of medieval manorial court and accounts for parishes.
  • Apprenticeships and indentures - books and documents.
  • Tithe maps- prepared following the Tithe Commutation Act 1836.

Registration Acts of William III for the war against France (1694-1706) included tax on duties of marriages, births, burials and on bachelors and widowers for 5 years. Marriage duty (?) assessments are on the Genealogist's website. The marriage duties had a bad effect in the register by decreasing the number of entries, increasing number of paupers, increasing activity in non-parochial churches eg: unbeneficed clergy then performed marriages when they shouldn't have, therefore free of the Bishops. In London there were a few areas that would perform irregular/clandestine marriages eg: Tower of London, The Mint, St Botolph Aldgate (accounted for half the weddings in London before 1696) and Liberties of the Fleet Prison (inc. brandy shops, taverns and ale houses, 'Fleet Marriages' RG7 at TNA and on BMDRegisters.co.uk). Clamp down of these marriages in 1690s encouraged the Liberties of the Fleet.

Growth in 18th century in acceptance of non-conformity. Quakers and Jews had their own records but everyone else had to marry in CoE.

Returns of the Papists 1767 (Durham) now in the Parliamentary archives. Transcribed and published by the Catholic Records Society.

Musgrave's Obituaries - published by the Harleian Society (vol. 44-49). Obits before 1800 and taken from journal of the period such as The Annual Register, European Magazine, London Review, Gents mag and published biographies of the period.

For East India and Co. and Civil servants:

  • 1741-1858 Madras civil servants.
  • 1790-1842 General register EIC civil servants in Bengal.
  • East India Kalendar, and Register.
  • India List.

Harris's list of Covent Garden Ladies.

Almanacs - British Imperial Calendar, The Royal Kalendar c.1769-1869, Court and City Register, Rider's British Merlin 1798-1822, Annual Register starting 1758 and covering world events and inc. biographical notice.

Apprentice lists - SoG has 'Crisp and Clench' collection, 18 vols. of indentures 1641-1888, inc. Westminster parishes.

Pre 1858 probate strategy:

  • PCC online or TNA.
  • Local Diocesan Record Offices.
  • PCY ay Borthwick Institute.
  • LDS family history library catalogue - obtain a copy from SoG once you know the court.
  • SoG indexes and collections.

Freeman record lists - cover Borough Freeman who could vote. Get freeman status by apprenticeship, marriage, birth or redemption/payment.

Middlesex Registry 1708 at the London Metro. Archives, for wills, mortgages, deeds etc. Great for 18th century Middlesex. Middlesex deeds 1709-1990 indexes at LMA.

Yorkshire Deeds Registers inc. West Riding, East Riding and North Riding. Held at local Record Offices. Inc. many documents relating to land ownership.

Trinity House petitions - merchant seamen and families asking for funds.

Criminal records at the Old Bailey website. Petty sessions (for the poor) and Quarter sessions.


  • Businessmen, merchants, professionals, estate owners, farmers.
  • Left wills, invested in tontines, insured homes and business, went to court.
  • Voting based onp roperty and freeman status.
  • Tax and rate payers.
  • Jurors and JPs.
  • Parish officers.


  • Living in mostly rural parishes, then move from country to towns.
  • Worked for others.
  • Reliant on parish in hard times.
  • Poor Law affected them.
  • Militia musters, army, navy.
  • Appeared before assizes, quarter and petty sessions.

Other sources include newspapers, early journals and periodicals (Gentleman's Magazine), local directories (trades and occupations eg: at SoG), militia lists/musters, defense lists/posse comitatus, poll books, freeman lists, professional lists, association oath rolls, rate payers lists, marriage duty assessments, window tax, land tax, stamp duties (see extra pdf).

Tax Records

Land tax 1780-1820 and Window tax 1679-1851.

Land tax records, act like an electoral register, and are best for his period.

IR23 series at TNA is the year 1798 for the whole country, indexed on Ancestry as '1798 Land Tax Redemption'

Parish poor rates and assessments - if you paid land tax you probably paid this as well.

Stamp duties and accessed taxes inc.

  • Silver plate 1756-77 (TNA T/47/5-7)
  • Playing cards and dice (TNA T/47/2-4)
  • Employment of servants (TNA males T/47/8)
  • Gamekeepers
  • Hair powder 1785-88
  • Dogs 1796-1882
  • Clocks and watches 1797/8
  • Horses 1784-1884


TNA civil or crown servants guide.

The Hathi Trust for the Royal Kalender and more.

Full text version of Musgrave's Obituaries.

One Place studies.

Proceedings of the Old Bailey 1674-1913.

Connected Histories 1500-1900.


'Early modern genealogy: researching your family history 1600-1835' by Paul Chambers.

'Tracing your pre-Victorian ancestor' by John Wintrip (and others).

'My ancestor was a Gentleman' by Stuart A. Raymond (and others).

'Tracing your ancestors through the equity courts' by Susan Moore.

'Pre 1841 census and population listings in the British Isles' by Colin Chapman, 1998.

'Local census listings 1522-1930: holdings in the British Isles' by Jeremy Gibson and Mervyn Medlycott, 1997.

'The Parish Chest' by W.E. Tate.