Family history research

When researching your family history it is essential before arriving at the Record Office that you have as much information about your family history as possible.


Family members are a good source of information for your research, as well as family records such as certificates, letters, old photographs and dates; the areas where family members lived, the type of jobs they did, the churches they attended are all vital to your research.  Ancestry Library Edition is free to use at most UK libraries, and is an excellent resource for those researching their family history and much more.

Website:  About Ancestry


Castle Hills Maternity Home

Castle Hills House nestles in the trees in its wonderful setting above the river Tweed. Now a private residence, it was formerly the Maternity Home for the Berwick-upon-Tweed area between the years 1945 and 1984: it is reckoned that around 10,000 people of Berwick were born here. Photo: John Box.

Listed below are websites which will help you with your family research.  Most are free to use and can give comprehensive results.





FreeBMD is an ongoing project, the aim of which is to transcribe the Civil Registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales, and to provide free Internet access to the transcribed records. The recording of births, marriages and deaths was started in 1837 and is one of the most significant resources for genealogical research. The transcribing of the records is carried out by teams of dedicated volunteers and contains index information for the period 1837-1983; they have not yet transcribed the whole period.

Website: FreeBMD



International Genealogical Index (IGI)


These records span billions of names across hundreds of collections; including birth, marriage, death, probate, land, military, IGI extracted and more. (Maintained by the Church of Latter Day Saints).

Website:  Family Search 





Berwick Parish Church

The above photograph is of Berwick Holy Trinity Church which is the most northerly parish church in England. Originally founded in 1152, the present church is 17th century Cromwellian, and a grade 1 listed building. Presbyterianism also had a very strong religious connection to North Northumberland because of its proximity to neighbouring Scotland.  Berwick Record Office holds baptism registers for a number of the Presbyterian churches in the area; many transcribed which are not available on the International Genealogical Index. Photo: John Box.

If you are researching UK genealogy, your Scottish ancestry or building your Scottish family tree, ScotlandsPeople have almost 90 million records to look through (Free search only, pay for full details).

Website:  ScotlandsPeople



The National Archives of Ireland


The Census of Ireland 1901/1911 and Census fragments and substitutes, 1821-51. Website:  Archives of Ireland 



India Office Family History Search


There are 300,000 births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials in the India Office Records.

Website:  India Office Family History 





FreeCEN is an ongoing volunteer project to make 19th century UK Census data available on one database.  It aims to provide a “free-to-view” online searchable database of the census returns from 1841 to 1911.

Website:  FreeCEN 




FreeREG is an ongoing project to provide online indexes of baptism, marriage, and burial records, which have been transcribed from parish and non-conformist registers of the United Kingdom.

Website:  FreeREG


Family History Societies


Sites and services of some local family history societies can be found on our Links page.




For some historical newspapers and magazines which can be searched online without payment, see our free online newspapers links.

Our Families project


The data collected in this project researching families and properties in Berwick’s High Greens, Low Greens, and Ravensdowne can be seen on the Our Families pages.



Military sources


Commonwealth War Graves Commission


War Graves Kirk Yetholm

The above photograph shows the war graves in Kirknewton churchyard of twelve British, Canadian and New Zealand airmen killed in the Cheviot Hills during the Second World War.
CLICK HERE to see details of the grave inscriptions.
(Also buried nearby is Josephine Butler one of the 19th century’s leading feminists and social reformers; born in Milfield in 1828, she died in 1906.) Photo: John Box.


The Commission’s casualty database lists the names and place of commemoration of the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died during the two world wars.


It also records details of the 67,000 Commonwealth civilians who died “as a result of enemy action” in the Second World War.


It is possible to search by surname, date, war, rank, regiment, awards or any combination of those criteria.

Website:  Commonwealth War Graves Commission



Ministry of Defence


The Ministry of Defence is the custodian of the records of service of Service personnel and Home Guard records until they are opened to general public access at the National Archives. Subject to the payment of an administration fee and provision of a death certificate (except where death was in service), certain information can be provided from the records of service of Service personnel on request under the publication scheme.


If you require military service records, further information can be found on the MOD website.






Woodhorn Museum and Northumberland Archives


Below are useful links to the Woodhorn Museum and Northumberland Archives.


User guides and forms

You can obtain copies of any of the User Guides and Leaflets for help in using the archive (as well as Copyright Order and Booking Forms, Governance documents, Archives Consultative Committee Minutes,  Archives Newsletter, Price Lists, Finding Aids and Rules / Procedures).

Web page:  User guides and forms


They inclulde the following indexes:


Northumberland Farms Index circa 1860

For those researching 19th century farming in Northumberland this index provides a useful resource.

Web link:  Farms Index circa 1860


Northumberland Wills index 1858  – 1899

Two indexes of Wills cover an area from the Tyne valley to Berwick-upon-Tweed, providing a useful resource for those researching their family history.

Web links:

Northumberland Wills index 1858 – 1878

Northumberland Wills index 1879 – 1899





Durham University Library


Durham University Library’s North East Inheritance project has funded the creation of an online digital image catalogue of over 150,000 wills and related archives from across County Durham, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland. These provide an invaluable insight into north-eastern people and communities, their family relationships, trades and lifestyles. The wills date from the 16th Century to the mid-19th Century and many are accompanied by inventories of the goods belonging to the deceased, bonds, accounts, and a variety of associated documents.

Website:  Pre-1858 Durham Probate Records




Andrew Farmer grave

The above photograph is the grave of Andrew Farmer in Berwick Holy Trinity churchyard. The inscription reads: To the memory of Andrew Farmer late Master Mariner of this port who died at Deptford 10 March 1839 in the 60th year of his age. Reverse: In memory of Eleanor Farmer who departed this life Oct 3 1826 aged 73. Also Dorothy Farmer third daughter of Andrew Farmer master mariner who died Feb 24 1837 aged 16. Photo: John Box.
Berwick Record Office holds transcribed grave inscriptions from various churchyards in the local area.