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