Monday, January 4, 2010

English Family Land Deeds Online

The Family Deeds project was started because many old deeds and documents were coming onto the open market, being sold to many different locations, which meant that this valuable information was becoming more and more difficult to locate. A need arose for a central location where the information contained in as many documents as possible could be made readily available.

The website Family Deeds Project now has information on thousands of deeds from all over Great Britain, with new documents being uploaded each week.

These deeds can contain a wealth of genealogical information that can assist family historians and so the Family Deeds project created with the aim of trying to preserve some of that information and make it easily available to all.

The information that can be found in Deeds can vary from document to document, and from time period to time period. Don’t assume that because your ancestors weren’t the landed gentry and were, perhaps, labourers that the website won’t be able to help. Many documents also contain information about the tenants of the property as well as the owners.

Examples of the information which might be available are:
  • The description and location of the property in question, sometimes with a plan.
  • Who owned the property at the time of the deed as well as who had previously owned the property with information sometimes going back over a hundred years.
  • Who lived there if it was rented.
  • Who used to live there.
  • Who owned the land and lived in the properties to the north, south, east and west and who lived in those properties.
  • The occupations of many of the people mentioned
  • If someone had recently moved, their former parish is often also given – perfect for knocking down that brick wall!
  • Previous documents are often recited so that you have not only the information for the date of the Deed, but also the information as it was years before.
  • Where a property has passed through a family, there can be details of many generations.
  • If the property has been left in a Will then the date of the Will, date of Death, date of Probate and the place where the Probate was granted are all often included.
  • Sometimes you get the tithe reference number so that you can pinpoint exactly where you ancestors were.
The website has now been amended so that you can purchase and download pdf transcriptions of the documents directly from the website. If you are resident in the UK mainland or Northern Ireland you can also now purchase some of the original documents online, but if you live outside the United Kingdom, they are unable to send documents.

Although Family Deeds accepts these payments, the site assures visitors it is not a commercial venture. The project is still voluntarily run and all the proceeds from the sales are used to purchase the documents and help towards the website costs.

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