Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section

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Manuscripts Section

The Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library is the local record office for the City of London (the "Square Mile"), although it does not hold the archives of the City of London Corporation itself which are separately administered. Its holdings date from the 11th century and include the archives of the Diocese of London, St Paul's Cathedral, the City wards and parishes, and around 80 of the City livery companies. It also holds family and estate records, and, in keeping with its location, considerable business and commercial archives, including those of the London Stock Exchange, the London Chamber of Commerce, Lloyd's of London and numerous merchant banks, insurance companies, stockbrokers, merchants and trading companies.

The main genealogical sources are:

* registers of baptisms, marriages and burials in over 100 parishes within the City of London and in St Leonard Shoreditch; records of burials at Bunhill Fields burial ground and at the City of London cemetery, Little Ilford;

* registers of some Anglican churches overseas (mainly 19th-20th centuries; a few earlier registers); also the "International Memoranda" of baptisms, marriages and burials overseas (19th and early 20th century);

* rate books for City wards and parishes (mainly 1692-1907; some earlier records); see also Land Tax Assessments;

* marriage licence records for the Diocese of London (1597-20th century), the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's Cathedral (1670-1841) and the Royal Peculiar of St Katharine by the Tower (1686-1802 with gaps);

* probate records for the Archdeaconry Court of London (1393-1807), the Commissary Court of London (1374-1857) and the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's Cathedral (1535-1837);

* apprenticeship and membership records of most of the City livery companies (mainly 17th- 19th centuries; some earlier and later records);

* ordination and other records of clergy in the Diocese of London (14th-20th centuries);

* registers of children attending Christ's Hospital (1563-1911) and some other schools in or connected with the City;

* Lloyd's "Captains Registers" (1869-1948) relating to the careers of master mariners;

* registers of pilots licensed by Trinity House (1808-1929) and other Trinity House records.

Printed Books Section

The Printed Books Section has numerous biographical and genealogical sources, particularly for former inhabitants of the City of London. It also holds a considerable quantity of material for the rest of England, and some for the rest of the British Isles and overseas.

The main sources are:

* published family and local histories; journals etc of national and local historical, genealogical and record societies;

* Beaven's Aldermen of the City of London (1276-1912), and other published sources relating to City dignitaries and officers;

* trade directories of London (from the 1730s), many English towns (from the late 18th century) and English counties (from the 1820s);

*telephone directories, London and provincial (mainly 20th century);

* poll books of many English towns and counties (mainly 18th-19th centuries);

* electoral registers for the City (1832 to date);

* census returns for the City (1841-1901) and the 1881 Census surname index for England, Scotland and Wales. Census returns for England, Scotland and Wales, 1841-1901, are also available electronically via the Ancestry website;

* the International Genealogical Index, compiled by the Mormon church, of many baptisms and marriages in the British Isles (1538-1880). The CD-ROM version of this, known as Familysearch, is also available;

* published and/or unpublished register transcripts of many Anglican and Huguenot churches, and of some English non-conformist and Roman Catholic churches;

* Boyd's Marriage Index (1538-1837) for England;

* Cliff Webb's supplement to Boyd's Marriage Index for London and Middlesex;

* Boyd's Burial Index (1538-1853) for Middlesex and London;

* index of apprentices from Inland Revenue records (1710-74);

* published registers of many schools, colleges and universities;

* regimental histories and rolls of honour;

* clerical, medical, legal and armed services directories (mainly 19th-20th centuries);

* Burkes and Debretts publications;

* some published lists of immigrants and emigrants;

* National Probate Calendar indexes (1853-1943);

* Electronic resources, including Ancestry, National Burial Index, Pallot's Marriage Index, Pallot's Baptism Index, Who's Who (1897-1996), Palmer's Index to The Times (1785-1905), Official Index to The Times (1906-1980), 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection newspapers, 19th Century British Library newspapers, The Times Digital Archive (1785-1985), Daily Mirror (1903 onwards), Soldiers who Died in the Great War, Army Roll of Honour - World War II and the Dictionary of National Biography.

A Guide to Genealogical Sources in Guildhall Library, compiled by Richard Harvey (4th revised edn. 1998) is currently available, with many other publications, from the Guildhall Library Bookshop.

Last updated December 2008

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Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section