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"Lincolnshire, maritime county in East of England, bounded North by Yorkshire, from which it is separated by the Humber; East by the North Sea; South by Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire, and Norfolk; and West by Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, and Rutland.
Lincolnshire is the second largest county in England. For a very long time it has been divided into 3 'parts' -namely, the Parts of Lindsey, the Parts of Kesteven, and the Parts of Holland. Generally speaking the land is flat and low, especially on the coast, which in some parts requires an embankment to check the encroachments of the sea. The Wolds, or Chalk Hills, in the Northeast, are about 47 miles long and 6 miles broad." From Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887.


Map showing location of Lincolnshire


Archives and Libraries

The Archives, Libraries and Museums have been moved to a pop-up window due to frequent changes in Internet links, addresses, etc. That window is accessed from many pages throughout this site.

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Church Directories

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Church Records

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Civil Registration

See separate Civil Registration page.

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Correctional Institutions

Check out the gaols in Lincolnshire and the one at Hull, too. Just go to our Correctional Institutions page.

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Court Records

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Description and Travel

The county town is Lincoln, famous for its magnificent cathedral, which ranks as one of the most awe inspiring in the world. Lincolnshire is separated from ancient Yorkshire by the River Humber and lies north of Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire. To the west are Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. To the east lies the North Sea.

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A number of commercial directories exist for Lincolnshire for the 1700's and 1800's. While valuable, they have limitations. They are Trade Directories, normally organized by the major cities and market towns, and include only the name of the head of household. People "subscribed" to be included in these, so the landed gentry, clergy, shop owner and tradesman are likely listed, but not ag. labs, shepherds, grocers or employees. The most commonly known directories are White's, Pigot's, Kelly's and the Post Office Directory. The early directories also tend to group smaller villages together with the nearest main town/village. Each town's entry will normally include:

  1. A town history, location and current status & facilities, postal services, coaches, trains, schools, churches, etc.
  2. The dates of annual fairs and the day of the week for "market day".
  3. A list of principal Trades, and within each classification, the tradesmen.

Whites's and Pigot's directories can be found for the early 1800's. Kelly's Directories begin in the latter part of the 1800's.

Another excellent source is the Lincolnshire Library's list of Directories.

For a searchable online Directory, try Historical Directories.

Also, for specific locations, try Dead Family Directories.

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Divorce Records

The definition of Divorce has changed over time. See our:

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Emigration and Immigration

Emigration is the process of leaving one's country. Immigration is the procecess of entering a new one. In general, better records exist for Immigration than for Emigration, because countries generally were more interested in who was coming in than who was going out. See our Migration page for a list of resources.

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The Lincolnshire Family History Society has published an excellent, concise (58-page) "Gazetteer of Historic Lincolnshire for Family & Local Historians," ISBN 1-898339-12-1, which is available from the Federation of Family History Societies Bookstore at a very reasonable cost. It lists all the towns & parishes of Lincolnshire, their deaneries & registration districts & their map grid references.

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Historical Geography

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Land and Property

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Need to find your way around Lincolnshire? We have several sources for good Maps.

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Migration, Internal

There is a small amount of information on this on our Migration page.

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Military History

Pat COOK provides letters written by Joe SMITH starting from just before the Great War until his death in 1916. These are letters to his devoted mother, telling of his enlistment and life in the Royal Navy, his training, uniform, girl friends, sleeping in a hammock, and stories of life on the ship. Please enjoy Joe's letters home.

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Military Records

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Names, Geographical

Some novices get confused by the terms "parish", "city", "town", etc. Let's address those:

  1. A hamlet is the smallest geographic entity we use. It can be a small cluster of houses, as few as two, or even just a collection of houses on one side of a road or embankment. It may not have a church, but may have a Chapel of Ease, where the preacher from the nearby village church might hold services.
  2. A village is a small cluster of houses. It probably has a church or had one at one time. It may even have several churches and chapels used by non-conformist religions. Most villages have been around for 1,000 years, but some are new. Some have also disappeared because they were abandoned.
  3. A town is a village which at one time, perhaps recently, felt it was large enough to hold regularly scheduled markets or fairs, either weekly or annually. Thus you'll hear of villages which are called "market towns". These are not to be confused with "townships", which is a political congregation of houses and/or farms formed for some purpose (like building a school). A Market Town generally held a charter from the local Lord of the Manor or some nobility granting them the right to hold the market.
  4. A parish is the area served by a church. Generally, we are talking Anglican churches here, but Catholic churches had parishes, too. The Anglican Church had a great deal of power at one time, and much administrative life was lived within parish borders (like Poorlaws). The simplistic construct was one church per village, with the village being the center of a parish. But, exceptions abound. Some villages had two churches, thus two parishes. Etc. If a village was abandoned, the parish was absorbed into neighboring parishes.
  5. An ecclesiastical parish was distinguished from the civil parishes after 1597 with the passing of the first Poor Relief Act. This division of the medieval parish created a parish that dealt solely with ecclesiastical functions and had its own church and clergyman. This Poor Law Act (1597) also lead to many subordinate areas, such as chapelries, being raised to parochial rank and new parishes being created.
  6. A City, on the other hand, was a formal political entity, granted a charter by The Crown. The Charter usually gave additional rights and obligations to the citizens of the city. A city did not have to be large. It could be the size of any village, but cities were often ports or important trade points (like Lincoln or Gainsborough). Because of a larger population than most villages, a city might have 5 or 12 parishes within its boundaries. And, just because it's big today, that doesn't make a town or village a City. They've got to have the charter, which is not given out just because the town wants one.

Lincolnshire was, and still is, in some ways, divided into three "Parts"; the Parts of Lindsey, Parts of Kesteven and Parts of Holland. These names still survive today in administrative bodies.

To put it simply, Lindsey is the Northern half of Lincolnshire, above Lincoln and to the North of the river Witham, down to Langrick and across to Wainfleet and Croft.

Kesteven is the south west part of Lincolnshire, whilst Holland is the south east side.

Like many regions in England, some Lincolnshire Names and Terms are unique. For example, what's a Yellow Belly?

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Names, Personal

Lincolnshire researchers often build online databases or lists of names they are researching (or have found). Visit our Personal Names page to see a list of current online resources.

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Naturalization and Citizenship

The 1870 "Naturalisations in the UK Act" required anyone registering for citizenship to have lived in the United Kingdom for at least five years in the eight year period prior to naturalisation. It also took one month from the swearing of the oath of allegiance to becoming registered by the Home Office. All this information might be useful when working out the date of arrivals to Britain. The certificate stated the man's name, his present address, his occupation and the region and country of his birth. It also gave his parents' names, whether he was married or single and any children's names and ages at time of naturalisation. It did not, however, state his wife's name.

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Newspapers preserve our heritage and our history. This link provides access to a list of newpapers and periodicals for Lincolnshire.

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Politics and Governance

It was customary up to the 20th century to say "the county of Lincoln" - the term Lincolnshire was not generally used. The county of Lincoln was split up into three "parts" until 1974 when local government reorganisation took place. The three "parts" were Lindsey, Kesteven and Holland. Each had its own Quarter Sessions.

There are 14 registration districts covering Lincolnshire (for census). Some registration districts cover parts of other counties: some of Rutland is in Stamford RD, a few Leicestershire parishes are in Grantham RD, a few Nottinghamshire parishes are in Gainsborough RD. Some Lincolnshire parishes are in Newark (Nottinghamshire) RD, others are in Thorne and Goole RDs (West Yorkshire) and Crowland is in Peterborough RD (Northamptonshire); county boundaries are not followed by the registration districts.

There are 23 Deaneries in Lincolnshire. These are ecclesiastical boundaries and the marriage indexes are published in Deaneries.

There are 32 Wapentakes (called "Hundreds" in other parts of England) in Lincolnshire. These are ancient political collections of parishes which had lost much meaning by the 1700s.

This is all very confusing which is why The Lincolnshire Family History Society publishes the "Gazetteer of Historic Lincolnshire for Family & Local Historians". All the different boundaries are explained in this book which also lists all the parishes, townships, hamlets, even some large houses and other very small areas. From this book you can also find out in which Wapentake, Methodist Circuit, Poor Law Union, Registration District, Registration Sub District, Deanery etc. each place is in. You can also find out whether the Protestation Returns are extant and find the grid reference for each place. If everyone researching in Lincolnshire had the Gazetteer, no one would need to ask where this place or that place is; you would have the information at your fingertips.

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Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.

Poorlaw records generally break down into several categories. The term "Poor Law Papers" is a group title which covers various legal documents that existed to cover the parishes where expenditure on a given person may be required. All these can date from 1601 to 1834. There are many Lincolnshire parishes that do not have poor law records archived under the parish name. The Quarter Sessions poor law indexes between them cover the whole of Lincolnshire and therefore include the parishes not covered by parish chest documents. The Petty Sessions indexes cover smaller areas but still include parishes without their own poor law docs.

We have these web pages to offer you for specific resources:

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Postal and Shipping Guides

Looking for a Post Office or an ancestor who was a postal employee?

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Probate Records

This section has been moved to allow for future expansion. Wills and Probate Records can be an invaluable resource for family relationships and married daughters.

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Public Records

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Schools kept a record of each student who was admitted. Unfortunately, they weren't required to deposit those records with the local archive office. Find out how to research school records on our Schools page. While you are there, check out our list of teachers and headmasters.

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This section has been moved to its own page for size reasons. There are several regional and local Societies to help you in your search.

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Voting Registers

Voting Registers and Poll Books can be an important source of information, but remember that prior to the Great Reform Act of 1832 you had to be a property owner to vote. Still, many tradesmen were property owners. Consider these resources:

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[Last updated: 9-January-2014 - Louis R. Mills]