17th cen­tury on­line sources

Tak­ing your fam­ily tree back to the 17th cen­tury presents new chal­lenges for ge­neal­o­gists, writes

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - CONTENTS -

The 17th cen­tury was an era when most peo­ple on low or av­er­age in­comes lived un­der the radar. How­ever, parish, pro­bate and tax records of­fer the pos­si­bil­ity of find­ing ev­i­dence of a named fore­bear, and there’s lots of this kind of data on­line. And while the chances of find­ing other sources are rel­a­tively low, the sit­u­a­tion is far from hope­less.

This was the era of the Old Poor Law, of the In­ter­reg­num, of up­heaval and mass mi­gra­tion. Eng­lish courts be­gan send­ing con­victs to the colonies and it was the cen­tury which saw the first Huguenot refugees ar­rive in Bri­tain. (In­deed you can read Laura Berry’s ar­ti­cle on sources used to trace Derek Ja­cobi’s French ancestors at bit.ly/huguenot­fam­ily.)

If your ancestors were wealthy, you can track down fam­ily and es­tate col­lec­tions, heraldic vis­i­ta­tions, land and tax records. At the other end of the scale, it’s worth look­ing for digi­ti­sa­tions or tran­scrip­tions of ma­te­rial left be­hind by the Poor Law sys­tem.

A view of Lon­don from Green­wich, painted c1620-30

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