UK Genealogy
Common Acronyms & Jargon


Like any other specialty hobby, genealogy has a list of acronyms, shorthand phrases, jargon, and slang which can be confusing to the "uninitiated". Here are some of the more common ones for UK genealogy, their definitions, and some web-based resources for them. Special thanks to Chris Hicks and Liz Blackwell for their assistance. Thanks also to the subscribers of the Norfolk-L Genealogy Mailing List for asking me to quit speaking in tongues.


Additional Resources

If you can't find the term you're looking for on this web page, try these resources:

The A to Z of British Genealogical Research (The Emery Paper) - Abbreviations from GENUKI - http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/EmeryPaper.html#Abbreviations

GenDocs - British Genealogy Abbreviations and Acronyms - http://www.gendocs.demon.co.uk/abbr.html

Family History Jargon - http://www.vellum.demon.co.uk/guide/fh11.htm

British Counties, Parishes, etc. for Genealogists - http://homepages.nildram.co.uk/~jimella/counties.htm
Explains the intricacies of the administrative areas of the United Kingdom. Provides the Chapman county codes and abbreviated nicknames for the ancient counties along with an explanation of regional names such as the Black Country and The Weald.


Term Index

AGRA
BMD BTs BigR BL
Chapman Codes C of E CROs
DNB
FHC
FHL
FRC
FTM
FFHS
GEDCOM GENUKI GRD GRO GRO(S) Gibson Guides GLRO GOONS
IHGS IGI IRCs
Kelly's Kew
LDS
MIs
OED ONS
PAF PRO PRONI
St. Catherine's House SKS SoG
WI

Alphabetical Index

A B C D E F G H I J K L M
N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

AGRA - Association of Genealogists and Record Agents:

An association of professional genealogists in the UK, AGRA members must agree to abide by a Code of Practice when hired to research for others. AGRA provides a forum for consumer complaints against the services of its members. Note that Scotland has it's equivalent Association of Scottish Genealogists and Record Agents (ASGRA).

The SoG has an excellent online brochure regarding Employing a Professional Researcher which describes AGRA - http://www.sog.org.uk/leaflets/researcher.html

Cyndi's List - Professional Researchers - General - http://www.cyndislist.com/profess.htm#General

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BMD - Births, Marriages, & Deaths:

The index of civil registration for the United Kingdom from 1837 to the present day. This index was formerly called the
St. Catherine's House index due to its former location in London. The index is available on microfiche from your local Family History Center, at many major libraries in the UK, and at the Family Records Centre in London among other locations. The index is used to locate index information on birth, marriage, and death registration certificates which can then be ordered directly from the UK's Office for National Statistics.

The Family Records Centre

The Office for National Statistics

Ordering Birth Registration Certificates from England & Wales - http://www.oz.net/~markhow/ukbirths.htm

FreeBMD at RootsWeb - http://freebmd.rootsweb.com/

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BTs - Bishops' Transcripts:

Copies of the annual entries into the parish registers were to be sent to the local Bishop from about 1598. For some parishes, the BTs have survived while the original parish registers have been lost. Be aware that these are copies of the originals and not the originals themselves. In parishes where both the original registers and the BTs exist, a wise researcher will consult both.

The Emery Paper - Bishops' Transcripts from GENUKI - http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/EmeryPaper.html#Bishops

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BigR - British Isles Genealogical Register:

A register of research interests published by the
FFHS, the BigR is an aid to located other researchers who share similar surname interests.

British Isles Genealogical Register: 2000 - http://www.ffhs.org.uk/pubs/bigr/index.htm

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BL - British Library:

The national library of the United Kingdom. It houses substantial collections of materials relevant to family history research.

British Library - http://www.bl.uk/

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Chapman Codes:

The three letter abbreviations used for each county in the United Kingdom.

GENUKI's Country and County Codes - British Isles - http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/Regions/Codes.html

GENUKI's Map of the pre-1974 counties of the United Kingdom showing their county codes - http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/Britain.html

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C of E - Church of England:

The official state church of England, also known internationally as the Anglican or Episcopal church. Since the late 1500s, the Church of England was required by the state to maintain various records on its local parishioners - essentially the entire population due to its status as the only officially-recognized church. Thus it is to the local parish records which family historians turn for research purposes. The vast majority of genealogically-relevant records generated by the C of E are now in the various Record Offices throughout the country.

The Emery Paper - Parish Registers from GENUKI - http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/EmeryPaper.html#Parish

The Church of England web site - http://www.cofe.anglican.org/

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CROs - County Record Offices:

In general, each pre-1974 county in the UK has a local archives, usually called a Record Office. As a group, these are referred to as County Record Offices or CROs to differentiate them from the national Record Office - the
PRO.

English Record Offices and Archives on the Web - http://www.oz.net/~markhow/englishros.htm

Welsh Record Offices and Archives on the Web - http://www.oz.net/~markhow/welshros.htm

Scottish Record Offices and Archives on the Web - http://www.oz.net/~markhow/scotsros.htm

Emery Paper on County Record Offices from GENUKI- http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/EmeryPaper.html#CRO

For tips on how best to use a County Record Office, see the FFHS's online brochure You and Your Record Office - http://www.ffhs.org.uk/leaflets/countyro.htm

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DNB - Dictionary of National Biography:

The standard British biographical dictionary with detailed biographies of some 40,000 British notables. Runs to 32 volumes published from 1885 to 1990. Available in printed form and on CD-ROM.

The New Dictionary of National Biography - http://www.oup.co.uk/newdnb/

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FHC - Family History Center:

A network of over 3,000 centers world-wide provide access to the loanable materials of the
Family History Library. Usually found in association with an LDS church, these centers are usually staffed by LDS volunteers who can assist you in your research endeavors. They are open to all, you needn't be an LDS member to use them and you will not be proselytized there.

Cyndi's List - Family History Centers - General Information - http://www.CyndisList.com/lds.htm#FHC

Cyndi's List - Family History Centers - Locations - http://www.CyndisList.com/lds.htm#FHC2

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FHL - Family History Library:

Located in Salt Lake City, Utah, this library is the largest repository of genealogical materials in the world. Microfilm and microfiche copies of a large amount of its materials are available on loan to your local
Family History Center.

Search the Family History Library Catalog - http://www.familysearch.org/Search/searchcatalog.asp

Cyndi's List - The Family History Library - http://www.CyndisList.com/lds.htm#FHL

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FRC - The Family Records Centre:

The Family Records Centre at Myddleton Place in London is the 'new St. Catherine's House'. It combines the public search rooms of the
ONS' General Register Office (indexes for births, marriages, and deaths back to 1837) formerly at St. Catherine's House with the census and wills rooms of the Public Record Office formerly in Chancery Lane.

The FRC is located within walking distance of two other important family history research repositories - the SoG and the London Metropolitan Archives. See the street map for these institutions' relative location to the FRC and the FRC's location compared to the old St. Catherine's House and Chancery Lane.

The Family Records Centre - http://www.pro.gov.uk/about/frc/default.htm

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FTM - Family Tree Maker:

The most commercially successful of the many software packages for genealogy. You either love it or you hate it.

Family Tree Maker - http://www.familytreemaker.com/

Cyndi's List - Genealogy Software Programs - http://www.cyndisList.com/software.htm#Software

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FTMag - Family Tree Magazine:

The most widely circulated snail mail magazine for UK genealogy, Family Tree Magazine is a monthly publication chock full of useful information.

Family Tree Magazine - http://www.family-tree.co.uk/

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FFHS - Federation of Family History Societies:

The umbrella organization to which most
UK family history societies (over 220) belong, FFHS' aims are to co-ordinate and assist the work of societies or other bodies interested in family history, genealogy and heraldry. Their publications are extremely useful in UK genealogical research.

Federation of Family History Societies - http://www.ffhs.org.uk/

Family History Books - http://www.ffhs.co.uk/

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GEDCOM - Genealogical Data Communications:

The GEDCOM standard is the data format by which genealogists trade their research information on computer files. All major genealogy software packages will convert data into GEDCOM format.

The GEDCOM Standard Version 5.5 - http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~pmcbride/gedcom/55gctoc.htm

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GENUKI - UK & Ireland Genealogical Information Service:

The most complete single source for UK genealogy on the Internet, GENUKI is a co-operative venture relying on volunteers to place genealogy information on the Internet in an organized manner.

GENUKI web site - http://www.genuki.org.uk/

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GRD - Genealogical Research Directory:

The GRD is published annual and consists of hundreds of thousands of surname interests submitted from around the world. It's primary usage is as a finding aid to locate other researchers with similar surname interests.

Genealogical Research Directory - http://www.ozemail.com.au/~grdxxx/

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GRO - The General Register Office:

A part of the
Office for National Statistics, the GRO is responsible for the recording of births, marriages, and deaths in the England & Wales since 1837. It is to the GRO one applies for certified copies of birth, marriage, and death certificates.

The General Register Office - http://www.ons.gov.uk/regist.htm

Note that Scotland has its own GRO(S):

The General Register Office for Scotland - http://www.open.gov.uk/gros/groshome.htm

Scots Origins web site - http://www.origins.net/GRO/

Note that Northern Ireland has its own GRO(Northern Ireland):

General Register Office (Northern Ireland) - http://www.nisra.gov.uk/gro/

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Gibson Guides - Genealogy records guide books authored by Jeremy Gibson.

This series of books are published by the Federation of Family History Societies in the UK and reprinted by Genealogical Publishing in the United States. They are concise guides to specific types of genealogically-relevant record types.

Gibson Guides for sale at the FFHS - http://www.ffhs.org.uk/pubs/pubs.htm#gibson

Genealogical Publishing Company - http://www.genealogybookshop.com/genealogybookshop/index.html

Emery Paper on Guides from GENUKI - http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/EmeryPaper.html#Guides

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GLRO - Greater London Record Office:

The GLRO is now called the London Metropolitan Archives. It is the largest local government archives in the UK. It holds the archives of London institutions including parishes, hospitals, charities and businesses as well as large estates and the public utilities. It also holds the archives of the Greater London Council, the London and Middlesex County Councils and their predecessors.

Corporation of London - Record Offices and Archives - http://www.corpoflondon.gov.uk/organisation/services/records.htm

LARGO - London Metropolitan Archives - http://www.lib.uci.edu/largo/glr/glrx.html

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GOONS - Guild Of One Name Studies:

This society helps co-ordinate one name studies - research into particular surnames irregardless of pedigree. For example, a one name study may be collecting all the occurrences of the MANGLEFRITZ surname whether they are related or not.

Guild Of One Name Studies - http://www.one-name.org/

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IHGS - Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies:

The Institute provides classes for family history and heraldry. Their library is extensive and they publish both books and periodicals to aid the researcher.

Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies - http://www.ihgs.ac.uk/

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IGI - International Genealogical Index:

Developed by the
LDS (Mormon) Church's Family History Department, the IGI is a finding aid for millions of individuals. Originally on microfiche, then on CD-ROMs at your local Family History Centers, part of the IGI is now available on the Internet.

Search the IGI - http://www.familysearch.org/Search/searchigi.asp

Using the International Genealogical Index (on compact disc) - http://www.familysearch.org/sg/Igicd.html

All About the I.G.I. - http://www.livgenmi.com/fhcigi.htm

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IRCs - International Reply Coupons:

These little coupons can be purchased at your local Post Office and may be sent overseas to be redeemed for postage stamps in any country which is a member of the International Postal Union. Depending on the redemption rules in each country, IRCs may or may not be an economic method of reimbursing postage costs. Many offers of no cost or low cost genealogical research services or information request that IRCs be sent to defray postage.

Britain in the USA - Reply Postage - http://www.britain-info.org/bis/fsheets/5.STM#reply

Watkins Family History - International Reply Coupons - http://www.iinet.net.au/~davwat/wfhs/irc.html

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Kelly's - Kelly's Directories:

A series of local directories published by the most prolific of the Directory publishers in the United Kingdom. From 1799 to 1939, the Kelly's series provides an excellent source for placing one's ancestors, particularly in the larger towns. The
SoG and Guildhall Libraries have extensive collections of Kelly's.

Emery Paper on Directories from GENUKI - http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/EmeryPaper.html#Directories

Kelly's (yes, of course they are still in business) - http://www.kellys.reedinfo.co.uk/

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Kew - The Public Record Office's primary repository at Kew:

Located in Rusking Avenue in Kew, Surrey near the Royal Botanical Gardens, the PRO's facility at Kew houses almost all the records in the PRO's care save for the census and wills rooms now at the Family Records Centre in London and a few other specialized records.

The Public Record Office - http://www.pro.gov.uk

The PRO at Kew - http://www.pro.gov.uk/about/kew/default.htm

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LDS - Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

Often referred to as the Mormons, members of this denomination have a religious obligation to research their ancestors. Because of this obligation, the LDS church has developed the largest single repository of genealogy information in the world at their
Family History Library. They are gracious enough to share this information with everyone, both LDS and non-LDS.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - http://www.lds.org

The LDS FamilySearch genealogy service web site - http://www.familysearch.org

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MIs - Monumental Inscriptions:

Those remembrances inscribed on the tombstones of our ancestors. MIs are often recorded by the local Family History Society or other organization.

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OED - Oxford English Dictionary:

The ultimate reference work on the English language. An excellent source for archaic and obscure words and terms. Available both in a full printed edition, compact edition with micro-printing, and also on CD-ROM. The bibliophiles bible.

The Oxford English Dictionary - http://www.oed.com/

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ONS - Office for National Statistics:

The ONS is responsible for the conduct of the English and Welsh censuses and, through it's
GRO branch, for the registration of all births, marriages, and deaths since 1837.

The Office for National Statistics - http://www.ons.gov.uk/

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PAF - Personal Ancestral File:

The computer software package put out by the
LDS church, PAF probably has more users than any other genealogy software.

Download PAF 4.0 for free from the LDS - http://www.familysearch.org/OtherResources/paf4/

Cyndi's List - Genealogy Software Programs - http://www.cyndisList.com/software.htm#Software

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PRO - The Public Record Office:

The Public Record Office is the repository of the national archives for England, Wales and the United Kingdom. They are the keepers of the nation's records back to the Domesday book of 1086.

The Public Record Office - http://www.pro.gov.uk

The PRO - Who Are We and What We Do - http://www.pro.gov.uk/about/introduction.htm

The Public Record Office's Online Catalogue - http://catalogue.pro.gov.uk/

Note that Northern Ireland has its own Public Record Office - PRONI - The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland - http://proni.nics.gov.uk/

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St. Catherine's House - See the Family Record Centre.

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SKS - Some Kind Soul:

E-mail shorthand for "Some Kind Soul". Usually used when begging the favor of a lookup or an explanation on a mailing list.

For more shorthand terms, see NetLingo's E-mail Shorthand List - http://www.netlingo.com/emailsh.cfm

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SoG - Society of Genealogists:

This is the premier society for the study of genealogy and family history in the United Kingdom. Their library in London is excellent, the have a terrific online shopping bookshop, and their publications are often must-haves for serious research.

The Society of Genealogists - http://www.sog.org.uk/

The SoG's Online Bookshop - http://www.sog.org.uk/acatalog/welcome.html

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WI - Women's Institute:

The Women's Institute is a women's benevolent society which is also involved in preservation work. Among other good works, they have conducted churchyard surveys in the United Kingdom. These surveys include recording the surviving tombstone inscriptions (see
MIs) of the churchyards surveyed.

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UK Genealogy - Common Acronyms & Jargon
Created & maintained by Mark Howells.
For information about this article, please send email to markhow@oz.net
Updated January 27, 2004
Copyright © 1999 - 2004 by Mark Howells