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Who Lived Here?

If you want to find out who lived in or owned your house there are a number of resources to help you.

Family with two children standing in front of old thatched cottage
Family with two children standing in front of old thatched cottage © Reproduced by permission of Historic England

Electoral Registers

Electoral registers listing people eligible to vote were compiled annually from 1832. Women don't appear on the register until 1918, and the voting age wasn't lowered to 18 until 1969, so the earlier registers may only be of limited use. Copies of electoral registers can usually be found at local record offices or local studies libraries.

Title deeds

The title deeds to your home should include names of vendors and sellers, a description of the property, and amounts of money used in transfer of ownership. They may be used to trace the owners of land on which the house was built. These deeds may be held by the solicitor, bank or building society involved in the sale and purchase of your house. Further information for many properties can be obtained from the Land Registry.

Census Records

The census has been conducted every 10 years across the whole country since 1801, although the first three returns recorded only numbers of people rather than individual names. Census returns can give a wealth of information on the occupants of a house at a particular time, including names, ages, sex, marital status, birth locations, relationship to the head of the household, and occupation. Census returns for the years 1841 to 1911 can be found online through the National Archives. Copies are generally available on microfilm or microfiche at local record offices.

Trade directories

These list, street by street, those who lived in them and their occupations or trades. Local record offices and public libraries generally hold copies of trade directories, published from the late 18th century onwards.

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