As time goes by, ever more sources of genealogical information become available online. This page is not going to cover the "obvious" sources (Ancestry, FamilySearch etc) but rather provides a short commentary on the various genealogy works that have been published over the last 200 years, many of which are now out of copyright and available for free. Given my own family history, these reference works all focus on the British Isles.
We will cover:
- Burke's ("Landed Gentry/Commoners", Burke's Peerage etc)
- Familiae Minorum Gentium
- Armorial Families
- Lincolnshire Pedigrees
- Miscelleanea Genealogica et Heraldica
- The Scots Peerage
- Cockayne (Complete Baronetage, Complete Peerage)
- Some British public school registers (e.g. Eton, Winchester)
- The Baronetage of England
A wide-ranging set of publications has been published under the general umbrella of Burke's. The most recent versions are available, for a subscription, directly from the publisher's website. Many older versions are out of copyright and have been digitised by Google Books or archive.org. The most useful include the three following series:
- The Landed Gentry series is likely to be the most fruitful source of family pedigrees for most people who aren't themselves Peers (i.e. nearly everybody).
- Burke's Peerage provides pedigrees for both peers (Marquesses, Earls etc) as well as Baronets.
- In many cases, a peerage or baronetcy no longer exists (usually dying out through lack of a male heir, but sometimes through attainder). For such circumstances, there are two works: a) the Extinct Peerages and b) the Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies.
On top of these three, Burke's Family Records (first published 1897) tackled additional notable families who did not qualify to be covered within the Landed Gentry or Peerage series. And the Heraldic Illustrations series provides more pedigrees and, as the name suggests, illustrated coats of arms for some families ("the Principal Families of the Empire").
Follow this link to go into more depth on Burke's.
Familiae Minorum Gentium