Significant Dates for Genealogists

The following information was kindly supplied by Epsom & Ewell Local & Family History Centre (Opens in a new window)

Date Event
1538 Dissolution of the Monasteries; Parish Registers begin (but few survive before 1600's)
1598 Parish Registers to be kept on parchment and Bishops' Transcripts begin
1601 Poor Law Act
1641 Protestation Oath Returns in this year
1662 Settlement Act
1662 First Hearth Act [2 shillings for each hearth or stove]
1665 First London Gazette published
1689 Hearth Tax Abolished
1693 Land Tax
1696 Window Tax (finally abolished in 1851)
1710 Stamp Duty on Apprenticeship Indentures
1731 First 'Gentleman's magazine (issued until 1868 - some indexes)
1745 London Foundling Hospital
1752 Calendar lost 11 days - change of year-end from March to January, Wednesday, 2 September 1752 was followed by Thursday, 14 September 1752.
1754 Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act - to prevent clandestine marriages:
Age of consent for girls, 14 and for boys, 12. No age limit before this.
1785 The Times founded and indexed.
1801 First National Census (but no family information and few records survive)
1813 Separate Registers for Births, Marriages and Deaths
1832 Electoral Rolls (records of how people voted made at this time)
1832-36 London Cemeteries Authorised: Kensal Green, Norwood, Highgate, Abney Park, Brompton Road, Nunhead, Tower Hamlets
1834 Poor Law Introduced; settlement repealed in 1876 and Workhouse introduced
1837 CIVIL REGISTRATION IN ENGLAND STARTED JULY (i.e. 'Somerset House registers')
1838 Public Record Office founded
1841 First National Census to mention name, age and occupation
1842 First 'Illustrated London News' published
1851 First National Census to show relationship to head of house, marital status/and place of birth (if you're lucky or if it is known)
1853 Cremations allowed in Boroughs
1858 Wills Register at Principal Probate Registry
1861 Ships in port included in Census
1866 Age at death on Civil Registration index
1872 Secret voting begun (See 1832 : now lists only show who can vote, not how)
1874 Failure to register a birth becomes an offence
1885 Age of Consent for girls becomes 16
1909 First O.A.P.s : 5 shillings a week for over 70s
1911 Society of Genealogists launched
1911 Mother's maiden name included in Civil Registration index
1911 Lloyd George's Finance Act: modem day Domesday Book on property
1912 Spouse's name included on Civil Registration Marriage index
1927 Adoption Register begun
1930s Mormons started International Genealogical Index
1969 Civil Registration: Date of Birth included in index of Death Certificates
2001 1901 Census On-line
2002 PCC Wills Index Pre-1858 online
2008 More genealogical information coming online all the time