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County Council agreement with Ancestry® set to make 500+ years of historic records available online

Anyone with Hampshire roots anywhere in the world will be able to learn more about their ancestors thanks to an agreement between Hampshire County Council and Ancestry®, a global leader in family history. As part of the agreement, access to the Ancestry website will be available free of charge at Hampshire’s public libraries and Record Office in the New Year.

A fascinating trove of online records, comprising of parish registers and probate records, will give insights into the lives of everyday people, alongside some of Hampshire’s most notable residents like Jane Austen, whose baptism is included in the collection (1775), as well as Florence Nightingale’s burial (1910) and the births of Oliver Cromwell’s grandchildren (from 1653).

Councillor Edward Heron, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Recreation, Heritage and Rural Affairs, said: “Exploring your family tree has never been more popular and technology is making it easier and more accessible than ever before. This new agreement will lead to over 500 years of fascinating historic documents held at Hampshire Record Office being professionally digitised and made available online on Ancestry. As a result, anyone with Hampshire roots anywhere in the world will be able to learn more about their ancestors at a click of a button.

“The agreement between Ancestry and the County Council will work to preserve the rich history of our county. Additionally, as part of this deal, I’m particularly pleased to announce that Ancestry will also become available without charge throughout Hampshire’s 40 public libraries and at Hampshire Record Office in Winchester. This innovative arrangement is an example of how we are exploring new ways of working to deliver high-quality services efficiently. The agreement with Ancestry is set to generate income for the County Council to plough back into work to preserve our county’s heritage.”

Kristian Lafferty, Content Acquisition Manager at Ancestry adds: “We’re so pleased to be working with Hampshire County Council to make this historically rich collection of records available online for the first time. These records will be a priceless resource for those who want to research their Hampshire roots in the UK and all over the world, providing valuable insight into the lives of many people’s ancestors from the region, alongside some of Hampshire’s most notable residents.”

The Hampshire Archives and Local Studies team will work alongside Ancestry to digitise parish registers and probate records. The registers are comprised of Church of England baptisms, marriages and burials for Hampshire parishes in Winchester Diocese dating from 1536 to 1921. The earliest register, from West Meon, has entries predating the 1538 order by Thomas Cromwell (Henry VIII’s minister) for parish clergy to keep registers. Probate records are made up of wills and inventories (documents relating to the disposal of someone’s estate) which were used in the church courts of Winchester Diocese from 1500 to 1857/8.

The first records are expected to be available from the end of 2022, with the original records remaining with the Hampshire Record Office. Complimentary access to Ancestry via Hampshire’s 40 public libraries will be available from January 2022, providing access to over 30 billion records from over 80 countries of origin. Access to Ancestry at Hampshire Record Office will follow in due course.

Hampshire Record Office is the home of 1,000 years of history and comprises Hampshire Archives and Local Studies and Wessex Film and Sound Archive. The award-winning landmark building was opened by Her Majesty The Queen in 1993. The collections are carefully housed in purpose-built accommodation with eight miles of shelving. You can find out more including opening hours, events and collections by visiting:


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