Getting Started

Researching your family history

It is a good idea to gather together as much information as you can about your family history. This will save you time and money later on.

You can talk to surviving family members and record all the information they can supply and collect as many copies of birth, marriage and death certificates as possible.
You can then use the information the certificates contain, starting with the most recent, to work back wards, generation by generation.

Birth, marriage and death records

These form the basic skeleton of all family history research.

You can find most births, marriages and deaths registered between 1837 and 1983 at FreeBMD You can find statutory records from 1855 to present day, for births, marriages and deaths by contacting your local registrars or church. 

Information contained in birth certificates includes:

  • child's full name and gender
  • place of birth
  • parents' names, including maiden surname
  • father's occupation
  • date and place of parents' marriage
  • name of informant and relationship to child

Information contained in marriage certificates includes:

  • for both people, their full name, age, marital status, occupation and usual residence
  • date and place of marriage
  • names, including maiden name of mother, for both parents, occupation of the father and if they are deceased
  • names of witnesses and officiating clergy

Information contained in death certificates includes:

  • name of deceased, their sex, marital status, age and occupation
  • time and place of death
  • details of informant
  • usual residence
  • spouse's name, parents' names and occupations.

Next steps in your research

There are many other records which can help you with your family history research, including:

  • census records
  • old Parish records
  • local newspapers
  • trade directories
  • monumental inscriptions
  • electoral registers, voters rolls and valuation rolls

We hold lots of these records, all relating to Surrey Heath, at the museum, and we are happy for you to come in and look through them.

Please book an appointment before visiting by phone on 01276 23771 or email

The Surrey Library Service offer their members free access to Ancestry, along with other online reference sites, through the local library computers. Through this you can discover places that your family lived, jobs they did and the names of their children, what their life status was, (if applicable) their war records, and many other interesting things. 

Please contact your local library for more information before visiting.


If your search leads you out of the Surrey Heath borough you might want to contact the Surrey History Centre They hold a large number of archival material relating to the whole of Surrey.

It is always advisable to book before you visit Surrey History Centre.