How to find Liverpool ancestors at Liverpool Record Office

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13 January 2017
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Discover how to find your Liverpool ancestors with our guide to resources held at Liverpool Record Office.

Discover how to find your Liverpool ancestors with our guide to resources held at Liverpool Record Office.

Liverpool Record Office is home to a wide range of resources that are available to assist with research into family history. There are a substantial number of original records, many of which are available on microfilm or microfiche. The Digital Library is a collection of subscription websites including Ancestry and findmypast that are provided free for all library members on the library computers.

On the third floor of the library there are microfiche copies of the indexes to births, marriages and deaths, 1837 to 2004, often referred to as the General Register Office (GRO) Index, which are available to use without an appointment.  

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Ancestry and Findmypast have indexed the Births, Deaths and Marriages indexes from 1837 to 2006, these sites are available with no charge via the Digital Library along with the BMD (Births, Marriages and Deaths) website and the Lancashire BMD website on all Liverpool Library PCs.

Census returns have the names, addresses, ages, occupations and places of birth of all the members of individual households, including children, servants, and visitors etc., who were present on the night the census was taken. They are a useful source of family history research.

Ancestry and Findmypast have all available censuses up to 1911.The later censuses contain further information including marital status, the number of children born, the number of children living and the number of children that died.

Parish registers contain evidence about christenings, baptisms, marriages and (sometimes) burials. St.Mary, Walton-on-the-Hill, Liverpool’s original Parish Church, are the oldest Church records starting in 1586 held in Liverpool Record Office.

Many of the registers are available to view on microfilm or online on the Ancestry website, available without charge in the Library. The registers that have not yet been digitized can be viewed by making an appointment in the Search Room.

Liverpool burial records

Liverpool Record Office hold the records of Liverpool churchyards and cemeteries. Burial records often include details of the deceased’s last address, age and occupation, important information for family history research. The records include private cemeteries and, from the mid nineteenth century, those maintained by the City Council.

Ancestry has digitised most of Liverpool’s parish graveyards, but not the municipal cemeteries, all available via the Digital Library in the Library. Crematorium records from 1908-1992 are available on microfilm.

Copies of inscriptions from gravestones can give biographical information about the deceased and other family members. There are a number of volumes of monumental inscriptions available in the Record Office.

Liverpool Street Directories start in 1766 and were published until 1970. They contain a list of names of inhabitants, an alphabetical list of streets with inhabitants (from 1839) and a list of trades and professions (from 1827). They can be a very useful source of information for family historians, but they do contain a number of errors and omissions.

The directories are available on microfilm and some which have been digitised can be accessed via the Ancestry site on the Digital Library in Liverpool Library.

Liverpool Electoral registers

Liverpool Electoral or Voters’ Registers are available from 1832 to the present. They show who was entitled to vote in elections.

Wills can be a source of information about an ancestor’s wealth, how they lived and possibly details about relatives. Indexes of wills from 1458 to 1837 published by the Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire are available, with the originals available at the Lancashire or Cheshire Record Offices.                

Other useful sources available in Liverpool Record Office include:

  • newspapers
  • hospital records
  • workhouse admission registers
  • school records (particularly registers)
  • records of orphanages or children’s homes
  • court records
  • maps and photographs of the area

To help Family History researchers there is a Family History Helpdesk, run by volunteers from the Liverpool and South West Lancashire Family History Society, available every Tuesday between 1.30 pm and 4.00 pm.

Liverpool Record Office, 3rd Floor, Central Library, William Brown Street, Liverpool L3 8EW; website

Open: Mon-Fri, 9.00 am – 8.00 pm; Sat:9.00 am – 5.00 pm; Sun, 10.00am – 5.00 pm

Search Room: Mon-Tues, 9.30 am – 6.00 pm; Wed, 9.30 am – 8.00 pm; Thu-Fri, 9.30 am – 6.00 pm; Sat, 9.00 am – 5.00 pm.