Discovering The PEople who lived in your house
House History is about many things – the bricks and mortar, architectural style, building materials, local history, but above all the people who lived in it.
Within the walls of your home people have slept, eaten, given birth, left to get married, fought, loved, died, grieved and generally led their lives in the same rooms as you are living in now.
So where do we begin to find out more about the people who in inhabited your home?
If you have any documents relating to the house such as deeds you might already know some of the people who lived in your house or at least owned it. However a list of names – whilst very useful still need “some meat on the bones”. If you do not have any documentation from the purchase of your property or are renting an interesting home then you need to start building a picture of your homes residents.
The first place to look is street and trade directories, 1939 register and census. Directories will only provide the names and sometimes occupations of your past residents but the 1939 register and census will give you far more including their age, occupation , relationship with their family and place of birth. Indeed, these will take you back to mid 1800’s (if your house is that old) and will give you a lot of information upon which to build your house history.
From this point you will want to start to fill in the details of your house residents using civil registration, telephone books , electoral rolls, rate books etc.
All the records you need are listed on the right and we provide a useful timeline of all resources to help you understand which are available at any given time.
Happy House Detecting
Start searching for residents now
Use Find My Past to search for a former resident of your house
Click on a guide below to find out more
poll books & electoral rolls
Poll books Electoral Rolls and Poll Books were introduced following an 1696 act of Parliament which attempted to end disputed election results as well as fraud. Once the secret ballot was introduced in 1832 they were no longer needed and Electoral Registers kept record of the people who could vote. Read more here......
The 1939 Register provides a snapshot of the civilian population of England and Wales just after the outbreak of the Second World War. As the 1931 census for England and Wales was destroyed by fire during the Second World War and no census was taken in 1941, the Register provides the most complete survey of the population of England and Wales between 1921 and 1951, making it an invaluable resource for family, social and local historians. Read more here...
British phone books have been published since 1880, the year after the public telephone service was introduced to the UK.
The books contain alphabetical lists of those with a telephone and will provide the surname, address and telephone number.
The phone book can help us pin point addresses for individuals who move around particularly in between the 10 years of the census. The censuses were conducted once every ten years, but phone books were published around every one to two years.Read more here
fire insurance records
An excellent source of information - if you can find them - are insurance records. Many companies have records dating from 1680 forwards. The most well known and biggest is the Sun Fire Office. Read more .......
national farm survey
Prior to 1837 The Government relied on The Church to register it’s population but it realised that it was not a complete record so a single tier registration system was introduced and all births, marriages and deaths had to be registered. Read more here......
Griffiths Land Value Ireland
This Is the primary valuation of Ireland carried out between 1848 and 1864 to determine liability to pay the Poor Rate (for the support of the poor and destitute within each Poor Law Union) - provides detailed information on where people lived in Mid-Nineteenth Century Ireland and the property they possessed. Go to Griffith's Valuation
Scottish Land Valuation
Are available on SotlandsPeople
This is an index of names/addresses of every kind of property that was assessed in 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915 and 1920 as having a rateable value.
You should find the names of owners, tenants and occupiers of each property and in many cases, occupations are also listed.
When a wealthy landowner died and the land was known to belong to the crown, Inquisitions Post Mortem were held in order to discover what income and rights were due to the crown and who the heir should be
Those who held land directly on the Crown’s behalf were known as tenants in chief and if they died without an heir, the land ownership defaulted to the Crown. If there was an heir, the Crown kept the lands until a payment had been made in order to assume possession.read more .........
There are many courts, spread all over the country dealing with so many issues that it is impossible to cover here and you are going to have to seek out the most appropriate . We will show you links to do that. However we are fortunate because there is nothing more that our ancestors liked fighting over (except money of course) than land and property – and that leads to lots of court cases. Read more.......
PRIVATE ESTATE RECORDS
You do not have to trace a house far back to discover that most land and property in Britain was owned by a few hundred elite landed families. Some entire villages were controlled by one family. Thus private estate papers are likely to be useful at some stage. Read more .......
Postcards & Photos
Books & House histories
Church & Parish Records
OUR ADVERTISING POLICY - This website receives no funding or any other form of award and is run voluntarily to provide information to those who want to trace the history of their house. We would like to say thank you to all those who have or will in future click on the advertisements they find on this page. We know they can be a nuisance or distraction and we try to make sure that they are relevant to the information we provide and our readers. However the modest income we receive from them keep the web site going. So thank you.