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Saraband Music



findmypast is the other biggest and best-known subscription site alongside Ancestry. British-based, it is gradually branching out to genealogy in other countries as is Ancestry. One major difference though, is that you have separate subscriptions for Ireland, Australia and other countries they are covering, while Ancestry has subscription levels which cover wider bases.

findmypast and Genes Reunited (there is a link ...) were the only sites with the 1911 English census available, but in 2011 Ancestry and The Genealogist have uploaded their transcriptions. On findmypast, you can search all the censuses, and their transcriptions are reputed to be much more accurate than Ancestry's, so if you have access to both sites, you may find your family on findmypast if it doesn't appear on Ancestry. I have had positive experience of this.

Like Ancestry, you can put up your own family tree, including pictures and more. You can search births, deaths and marriages in the UK, including births at sea, English births overseas and Civil Service evidence of age registers which aren't available elsewhere. There are also divorce indexes, army honour rolls and more. The London Docklands BMDs are wonderful for those with family from this area, and more and more parish records are being uploaded.

Like ancestry, there's a strong military section, including armed forces BMDs. Their migration records cover passenger lists leaving the UK, and a lot of Briths raj documents. If your family was involved in the British raj, or the East India Company, this website could give you a lot of info.

There are also specialist records, such as the 1838 Medical Directory for Ireland, or various ships' crew lists. This area is less developed than Ancestry, but still has valuable information.

I find findmypast a bit less easy to use than Ancestry. Their search forms have fewer options, and often mean you end up with huge lists to get through. I think this aspect of their service requires more thought, as does the whole website. Their What's New page needs to be more prominent. There's no doubting there's some great genealogical resources available via findmypast, but if it's not so easy to find then it makes genealogy less of a pleasure.

A recent update is a complete marriage search from 1837 - 2005 for England. This is great because looking through all the GRO indexes for each quarter was a pain, and Ancestry still has its BMD indexes in 2 sections.

One difference with findmypast is that you don't have to subscribe, although that's the most cost-effective way of using it. You can buy credits online or through vouchers and use those. I would definitely recommend using their free trial to see if this website is for you. I don't subscribe continuously to this site. I usually get a sub for 6-12 months, then discontinue until a lot of new records are available.

Patrice Connelly
November 2010, updated August 2011

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