Gold Challenge
House history (part 2)

Challenge: The people who previously lived in your house are an integral part of it’s history. Can you find out more about the people who used to live in your house?

How do I do this: For your House History research always start your research from the present day and work backwards. If you have already done House History Part 1 you will have an idea of the date your house was built. To start, ask your parents or guardians if they have the title deeds for your house (they may not have them or may not have access to them). If they are available, check these documents to find out information about previous owners and dates of ownership. The information in these documents will vary but will include very detailed facts about previous owners. Do not be discouraged if you do not have access to these documents.

For older homes, you will be able to discover quite a bit by trying to locate previous owners or occupiers in the Census. Depending on the date your house was built any occupants who used to live in your house should be found in the UK census returns (1841-1911). Try using the address search facility on findmypast here:

Remember : that your house may not have been given a numeric street number and so you may have to look carefully at the census returns in order to find your house. Your house may have been renamed. Suggested places to find this information: Use Online census resources. Go to your Local Studies library or Archives. Suggested records for you to look at include:

  • Census -The census was taken every 10 years in the UK from 1841 and is a survey that contained a specific set of questions in order to find out and record information about members of the population. The census will show where a person was living, who else was living in the household, occupation (job) and from 1851 family connections the householders had to each other, whether they were married or single and place of birth.
  • Electoral Registers – These record the name and address of those entitled to vote. The electoral registers will be most helpful to you when trying to establish who previously lived in your house. The occupiers of the house may not have been the owners. Also, be aware that voting rights changed over the years.
  • Probate and Wills - Probate & Wills may identify the value of the estate and name other family members, executors, administrators, date & place of death. This is helpful to see who may have inherited money and property in a family.
  • Parish records- Here you will find information related to family relationships. Parish records are especially helpful if you are looking for people who were born, married or died before 1837. Civil registration did not start before this date and therefore you will not find the modern equivalent of a birth certificate, marriage certificate or death certificate to assist you.
  • Directories –Another useful source of information that will include local people & businesses in a community based on date.
  • Gazetteers - A gazetteer is a geographical directory which will include important reference information about places. Give names & address of important local people, businesses and a community.
  • Telephone Directories – will give you names and related addresses.
  • Trade Directories – will give you names and related addresses.
  • Newspapers (birth, marriage and obituary announcements)- Newspapers are especially helpful to determine more personal details or facts.

Not all these resources may be relevant to your particular house. However, in general these documents will help you to identify and confirm previous residents of your property and identify specific dates which will help you to create a summary of previous residents of your house.

Suggested resources and useful websites: