Genealogy Sites - Findmypast

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Findmypast was begun in 2003 in London by a small group of genealogists and researchers as – a computerised version of the birth, marriage and death (BMD) pages of the British General Register Office.  It offered a pay-per-view service allowing access to images of the pages of the original GRO registers.

The Scottish media company DC Thomson acquired this business in 2007.  In 2011 it became a sponsor of the Society of Genealogists and agreed a reciprocal arrangement where each would give access to one another’s online databases.

Findmypast adopted a new website interface in 2014 which had a shaky start.  In 2018 Findmypast announced that it was partnering with Living DNA, a British company that specialises in DNA testing and analysis.  The company is now marketing their access to the 1921 UK census.

Genealogy Search

Its site has about 3 billion records.   The website hosted a wide variety of census, directory, historical record, church and newspaper information available from across the English-speaking world.  It has tended to concentrate on the UK  and countries of the former British Empire and Commonwealth – notably Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Their British records include:

  • 50 million English parish records
  • British military records
  • British and Irish newspaper collections
  • a range of English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish records
  • passenger records heading to the US, Canada and Australia.
  • plus access to the 1921 UK census, the latest available.

Findmypast allows you to build a family tree online, but – unlike the other sites – they are not currently searchable.  So you cannot look for clues from other people’s trees.

Findmypast has a plan to access records individually by buying credits (perfect for the occasional user), as well as a paid plan with more options.  The pricing here is from $129 per year.

How Does Findmypast Compare?

Findmypast’s main focus has been on British genealogy and they have a strong position here with the extent of their records in the British Isles.  But they do face competition in Britain from both Ancestry and MyHeritage.

On these two competing sites it is easier than with FindmyPast to find possible matches with your family tree and to compare your family tree with those of other users.

Some Customer Comments

“I find a lot of great info on Findmypast about my ancestors and it is well worth the subscription if you have English ancestors. The newspapers on the site are well worth it. I’ve been researching in Lincolnshire and it has been exciting.”

“Lots of information on there but you can’t always be sure you have the correct person. Some family trees can be misleading I tend to go back and have another look as sometimes new information appears. The site is pretty easy to use and can automatically add people and information which saves time adding yourself.”

“What I like about the system is the alerts and hints notifications. It may point you in a direction you may not be aware of and allows you to explore other avenues along your family tree.”

“The main reason I took out a subscription with Findmypast was to obtain access to the 1921 census. This has worked quite well, but in general terms I find the site difficult to use. My main problem is finding ways to go back through past generations, I find unless you have a name to search for you are at a dead end.”

“I don’t find the tree info as easy to follow/visualize as Ancestry. I would like to be able to see other users’ similar lines more easily. I don’t want to contact individual tree holders because without seeing their lines it might be a big waste of time. When you can see other people’s lines you can see how many ancestors match and get a feel for their research.”



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Written by Colin Shelley

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