Where to Start with Cambridgeshire Ancestry
1. Create a Family Tree
The first thing you should try to do when tracking your Cambridgeshire ancestry is to sketch your family tree (no matter how small). You can draw it on paper or use one of the many online services such as MyHeritage (paid), FindMyPast (paid), FamilyEcho (free) or FamilySearch (free). If you can, talk to a relative that might have more information. Write down anything you find interesting, even if it doesn’t look too relevant at first.
2. Explore the Archives
Fortunately, there is an immense quantity of online genealogy records for Cambridgeshire. Most of them are actually free to use. Among the documents you can usually find online are birth, marriage, and death certificates, baptisms, phone books, and war records.
2.1 Family Search Free Cambridgeshire Records
I would suggest starting your Cambridgeshire search with FamilySearch, which houses the world’s largest collection of free records and is quite easy to use. You don’t have to register but it’s recommended to do so in order to gain unlimited access (occasional visitors are restricted to a dozen per session). Although most records for England in FamilySearch are in text format, they also store a huge number of non-digitalized microfilms you can request and check from their family centres.
2.2 Free and Paid Cambridgeshire Records
WikiTree is a large community of genealogists connecting the human family on one free and accurate tree. Their aim is to have one record for every person that lived, and they have a lot of records for Cambridgeshire. The community is also incredibly friendly and love to help new users. Another site that holds existing genealogical records is MyHeritage. The site has a library that links to a lot of existing databases and hosts thousands of existing trees. MyHeritage is free for up to 250 people in the family tree – more than enough for most! Their tool to match and add information to yours is very easy to use. Ancestry, Family Relatives, and FindMyPast also have paid resources.
- WikiTree’s Cambridgeshire Category Archive (Free)
- Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire Team WikiTree Team (Free)
- Ancestry’s Cambridgeshire Collections (Index)
- Ancestry’s Cambridgeshire, England, Extracted Church of England Parish Records (Paid)
- FindMyPast’s Cambridgeshire Baptisms, 1538-1950 (Index, Paid)
- CFHS’ Cambridgeshire Family History Society baptisms 1801-1837 (Index, Free)
2.3 Cambridgeshire Parish Records Free Indexes
Parish registers’ indexes are available online and can be found at Parish Register and FreeReg. The registers vary between dates and geographical areas, and the names are often spelled phonetically or (if it’s before 1730) in Latin. It’s generally a good idea to keep an eye on different spellings and small errors. The majority of Oxfordshire parish registers can be found at local record offices too, but their indexes tend to be available online.
2.4 Cambridgeshire Civil Registration
From July 1837 on, you can find Cambridgeshire documents amongst the Civil Registrations for England and Wales (although many parents didn’t officially register their kids until the 1870s). You can order Cambridgeshire certificates by post from the General Register Office. They can emit and send birth, marriage, civil partnership, death, adoption and commemorative certificates from £11.00 including postage. FOr more information on how to research using GRO records see Research your family history using the General Register Office.
2.5 Cambridgeshire Census
Census in the United Kingdom were taken every ten years, beginning in 1801 (unfortunately, copies of those older than 1840 have rarely survived). This includes, of course, Cambridgeshire.
The Census contains invaluable information such as family addresses, ages, occupation, education and others. You can find census returns for England and Wales for 1841-1911 on sites like FamilySearch and findmypast.co.uk.
- FindMyPast’s Census Records (Paid)
2.6 Cambridgeshire Wills and Testaments
Cambridgeshire wills and testaments contain information about relationships and addresses, especially if there was no death entry on the General Register Index (for example if the person died abroad). A will should contain name, address, date of death, date and place of probate and the value of the estate.
The Index to Wills for England and Wales (which includes Cambridgeshire) is currently held at The Principal Probate Registry in London and covers entries from 1858. Applications can be made in person in London or by post to the York Probate Sub-Registry. Copies of the Index are also available at District Probate Registries throughout the country. Wills from before 1858 were administered by church courts and are often located in local county record offices.
2.7 Cambridgeshire Electoral and Trade Registries
You can search records of Cambridgeshire electoral registers 2002-2013 and UK Companies House Directors 2002-2013 using findmypast.co.uk (paid). Directories for trades and professions that also be consulted at main reference libraries.
Older editions of UK street directories (they were discontinued into the 1970s and 1980s) can also be consulted in record offices. The University of Leicester has a large collection of scanned images and full-text of trade directories available online.
2.8 Cambridgeshire Land Records
The folios of Cambridgeshire in Domesday Book are available online and for free. They are uploaded by the Open Domesday project, released under CC-BY-SA by Professor John Palmer and George Slater.
2.9 Cambridgeshire Directories
There are indexes available for the Cambridgeshire directories covering the years 1830 to 1919.
- History, Gazetteer & Directory of Cambridgeshire
- Pigot’s Directory of Cambridgeshire, 1830-31
- History, Gazetteer & Directory of Cambridgeshire, 1851
- Post Office Directory of Cambridgeshire, 1879
- Kelly’s Directory of Cambridgeshire, 1883
- Kelly’s Directory of Cambs, Norfolk & Suffolk, 1892. [Part 1: Cambridgeshire]
- Kelly’s Directory of Cambridgeshire, 1896
- Kelly’s Directory of Cambridgeshire, 1904
- Kelly’s Directory of Cambridgeshire, 1916
2.10 Cambridgeshire Military Records
There are several military records for the County of Cambridgeshire. Among them:
2.11 Cambridgeshire University Records
You can consult records for the Cambridgeshire University, including:
3. Local History Groups
4. Cambridgeshire DNA
Although it’s not technically possible to track “Cambridgeshire DNA”, DNA tests can connect you with other relatives from the area.
DNA tests have been getting increasingly popular in the last years and there are already extensive databases of DNA sequences. You normally have to just send a saliva sample, and a couple of months later receive a genetic analysis of your origins and a list of possible matches.
You can buy tests from a lot of different companies. I get mine from FamilyTreeDNA, but the two most popular services are and MyHeritage. If you need help interpreting your DNA results, we can help you. Check our Services page for more details.