Bruce Johnson's Family History Website

When I started tracing my family tree I was an absolute beginner and it took me a while to realise how much information is available - much of it for free.
If anyone decides to do their own research the following links may make it a bit easier for you.

National and International Records
The site I used for my family tree
Ancestry probably has more records than genes reunited.   You can get onto the 1881 census for free.
National Archives & records
Records for England and Wales including records of births deaths and marriages
It will cost you about £5 for each certificate you have to order, so before you do it's worth checking whether a relative or online contact has already got a copy - mine are all here on line.
Records of the 1911 Census were not supposed to be released until 2011 - but I think the last government decided they would get the fees rather than leaving it to next lot, so they released the data two years early.
Scotlands national record system is much easier to use than the English one and goes back further.
A brilliant free service provided by the Mormon Church - but beware - the information was all submitted by amateurs who may sometimes have made mistakes.
This site enables you to trace people who are still alive today - very useful say,  if you have an unusual name and you know you have distant cousins living in a certain area.   I must say I find it a bit scary that people can look each others addresses up that easily.   Especially if you annoy people as often as I do !

Local Records and websites
The Essex County Records Office.
Provides free access to photographic copies of parish registers and other records. An excellent  service as far as it goes,  but much of the material has not yet been put on line,  so you may find it frustrating to know that the source is there but you cant get at it.
By the way that's the original  Essex,  not the one in America
If you have never heard of "Glossop"  it's the earliest place to which I have been able to trace my Johnson ancestors.
An excellent website on the local history of Seaham Harbour, produced and maintained by local people - an excellent example of the internet being at the centre of community life.
Produced by the same group of people as the Seaham site, another real gem

Personal websites and sites linked to one particular name Bruce Rayner's own website. (Not me - another Bruce)
Bruce has encouraged a lot of people to research their Rayner links.
The website  includes some useful records in PDF format I like the way this group is set up - but sadly not many people are using it yet. This is one of several sites set up by members of the Rayner family to help each other .
First you have to go to,  and join, and then you use this link to get you to the actual group.
It's just getting started and there's no way to know how much help it will be.

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