Family tree research
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Researching your family tree
- Researching your family history
- Where do I begin?
- How far do the Register Office's records go back?
- Where can I get help tracing my family's history?
- What information do I need to obtain an old birth marriage or death certificate?
- How can I trace a long lost relative or friend?
Researching your family history
Tracing family history is exciting and rewarding but can be time consuming and complicated! Here at the Brighton & Hove Register Office we receive enquiries from all over the world, and while we cannot always provide the answers it is our aim to help you as much as possible. So where do you start? Below are the answers to our frequently asked questions.
Where do I begin?
The first step is to gather all the information you can from relatives, names, dates, addresses, ancestor's religions, any documents such as wills, family bibles, newspaper cuttings, birth, death and marriage certificates. Draw up a basic family tree to give you an idea of the gaps that you will need to fill. Then work backwards using information known already about relatives.
If for example you know your Grandmother's date and place of birth, apply for her birth certificate and this will give you her parents full names including her mother's maiden surname. Your next step would be to search for her parents' marriage certificate which you should find through searching the family records indexes held at Brighton History Centre or the National Archives may be able to help you.
How far do the Register Office's records go back?
Civil registration of births, deaths and marriages started on 1 July 1837 and so our records go back to then (please note we only hold records for the district of Brighton & Hove). Before July 1837, the Churches recorded baptisms, burials and marriages. More information on where to find these records (for Brighton, Hove and East Sussex) is held at the East Sussex Records Office in Lewes or at the Brighton History Centre. Registers of burials and cremations in Brighton & Hove are held at Woodvale Lodge in Brighton.
Please note we do not hold records of divorces. To apply for those you would either need to contact the court where the divorce was granted or The Divorce Registry in London.
Where can I get help tracing my family history?
There are many groups and organisations specialising in family history or Genealogy that should be able to help. You could try searching on the internet, or visit your local library and there are many books written on the subject.
What information do I need to obtain an old birth, marriage or death certificate?
We will need to know the year and the registration district, and any other information you may have. If you are unsure of the year or the district, you will need to search the 'Family Records Indexes'. These are held in Brighton, and other locations, including reference libraries, family history centres and record offices around the UK, and also in Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
How can I trace a long lost relative or friend?
We do not keep updated records of a persons whereabouts.
Brighton & Hove Register Office
Brighton Town Hall
Tel: (01273) 292016
This link will take you back to the Register Office home page
The Woodvale Lodge
Tel: (01273) 604020
Web: Genealogy Research
Tel: (01273) 482349
Brighton History Centre
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
Royal Pavilion Gardens
Tel: (01273) 296972
Link to Brighton Family History Centre
Sussex Family History Group
The Salvation Army
Family Tracing Service
101 Newington Causeway
The Divorce Registry
First Avenue House
42-49 High Holborn
Local Divorce documents are available from:
Brighton Family Centre
1 Edward Street
Tel: (01273) 811333
The Record Keeper
Principal Registry of the Family Division
42-49 High Holborn