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Help and advice for Lincolnshire

If you have found a problem on this page then please report it on the following form. We will then do our best to fix it. If you are wanting advice then the best place to ask is on the area's specific email lists. All the information that we have is in the web pages, so please do not ask us to supply something that is not there. We are not able to offer a research service.

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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.

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.


  • "The King's England-Lincolnshire", Edited by Arthur Mee, ISBN 1 872438 07 5 8vo (1992 Facsimile Reprint of 1949 Edn: Reprint due 2003).
  • "Mistress Bradstreet, The Untold Life of America's First Poet" is about life in early 1600 Lincs and Colonial New England, built around the Dudley family. Author: Charlotte Gordon; first edition March 2005; ISBN 0-316-16904-8; Little, Brown and Co., Time Warner Book Group.



  • Census records are a primary source for family historians. Fortunately, Lincolnshire has a rich set of census resources for you to use.

Church Directories

  • "The Treasures of Lincolnshire, an introduction for tourists to the churches of Lincolnshire", a pamphlet published by Lincolnshire Tourism, Lincoln Castle, Lincoln, LN1 3AA, UK. On the back page it states that you can get further information on Lincolnshire churches from Mr. Terry Miller, Church Tourism Officer, Tel 01522 50 40 50.

Church Records

  • See our background information on Anglican Church and Parish Records on this site.
  • Here's an odd bit of data. We have a list of Centenarians who were buried near Spalding.
  • Anglican parish churches are grouped together into Deaneries. Just what is a Deanery and what records do they have?
  • Parish register copies (Lincolnshire) in the library of the Society of Genealogists.
  • For religious groups outside the Anglican Church, see our Non-Conformist Church Resources page.
  • Church photographs are available for most parish churches and many non-conformist chapels. See our Church Photographs resource list on this site.

Correctional Institutions

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

Court Records

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

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.


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.

  • Rod Neep has reproductions of some Directories on CD, available for purchase at his Archived CD Books site. For example:
    1. 0090 - Lincolnshire 1835 Pigot's Directory
    2. 0011 - Lincolnshire 1841 Pigot's Directory
    3. 0091 - Lincolnshire 1876 Kelly's Directory (2 CD set)
    4. 0120 - Lincolnshire 1913 Kelly's Directory (2 CD set)
    5. 0033 - Nottinghamshire 1869 Morris & Co. Directory with Grantham, Chesterfield and Gainsborough.

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.

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.


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.


  • If you are new to on-line genealogy, there are some hints and ideas on our Getting Started page.
  • The I.G.I (International Genealogical Index) is a popular place to start. But see our I.G.I. Information page before you build your whole family from I.G.I. references.
  • ENG-LINCSGEN Mailing List Another essential resource for Lincolnshire researchers.
  • Researchers may be interested in the Lincolnshire GenWeb pages.

Historical Geography

  • The natural separation of the Isle of Axholme has led to several interesting developments.


  • You may want to find the book "The History of the County of Lincoln" by Thomas ALLEN, publ. 1834.
  • Need a Timeline of British history?
  • Here's a handy website of British history which you can search by location.
  • The Black Death or Plague swept through Lincolnshire (and all of western Europe) in 1680 through 1690.
  • All of England suffered from a "monster" storm in November of 1703 that killed a reported 8,000 people. Seaside villages suffered greatly and their church and civil records may have been lost.
  • In a similar storm in early 1953 flooding occurred from Mablethorpe to Skegness, reaching as far as 2 miles inland.
  • Liz DAVIES offers a list of names from the Agricultural Workers Revolt of 1872 and a list of Farmers against the Unions of 1874. Her Great Grandfather had an employer who found him reading a newspaper one day. He was asked "Can you read then, Pennell?" "Yes, sir," was the reply. "Then you can pack your bags and be off. We don't want your sort here."
  • For reasons that are buried in ancient history, folks who were born in Lincolnshire are called Yellow Bellies. No one knows for sure, but come find a list of possibilities.
  • What was life like back in the "good old days"? You might try to find a copy of "Illustrated Journeys of Celia Fiennes," written in 1698. Part 3 covers her trip through East Anglia. Another source is H. E. Bates, who began to write a regular column for "Country Life" (published by Penguin) just before WW2. Beware the authors who paint rosy pictures of the landed gentry and their great estates.
  • The book "Life As We Have Known It," Margaret Llewelyn DAVIES, reprinted by Virago in 1977 is a selection of notes written by women around WW1, describing their lives. The chapter by Mrs. Burrows - "A childhood in the Fens 1850-1860", would shatter all of one's illusions about how life in the country really was. She left school at 8 years of age, unable to read or write. She worked 14 hours in the fields with other children younger than her. The ganger had a whip, which "he did not forget to use". They were required to walk at least 2 miles and sometimes around five miles to reach a particular field, and then home again in the evening. (Thank you, Adrian Hedgecoy)
  • The Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs in England and Wales to 1516 might have your village listed in its Lincolnshire section.
  • The "big invention" of the 1800s was the steam engine and the impact it had on agriculture that century. It not only brought the railways, but also steam engines now replaced "ag labs" in the fields and replaced windmills for draining the Fens and pumping water. Oddly, many men found work in the coal mines to supply fuel for these "beasts", while others worked in the iron pits around Scunthorpe because of the demand for iron and steel.
  • "The Lincolnshire Poacher" is a traditional English folk song associated with the county of Lincolnshire, and dealing with the joys of poaching. It is considered to be the unofficial county anthem of Lincolnshire and it is the quick march of the Royal Air Force College Cranwell. Find out more at Wikipedia.

Land and Property

  • There are records of Land Tax Assessments from about 1780 up until about 1832. The returns are by township, which is a subdivision of a civil parish (not always the same as an ecclesiastical parish), which are collected together in hundreds or wapentakes which in turn are divisions of a county. These records are usually in the CRO. The Mormon Church has filmed some of these records but unfortunately not Lincolnshire. In most cases you will not be able to identify the land but can get some idea of size by the relative size of the assessment.
  • The local CRO should also have records of enclosure maps and tithe maps, the latter being up to 1854.
  • Records of deeds were not kept in a registry until 1862. The CRO indexes are being put on-line and can be searched through Access to Archives.
  • We have a list of the year 1723 Freeholders of Kesteven, provided by Mark in Barcelona.
  • Also, check for deeds at the Family Deeds web site.


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

Migration, Internal

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

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.

Military Records

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?

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.

Naturalisation 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.

  • For further information, visit the PRO website, which has online versions of its finding aids.
  • For useful dates in British history, see the History section.


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


Politics and Government

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.

Poor Houses, 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:

  • For a brief background on Poorlaws and a timeline, see our page on Poor Law History.
  • For an understanding of Settlement, see "A Place of Legal Settlement," published by Anne Cole in the Lincolnhsire Family History Society magazine.
  • Bastardy Bonds/Agreements were used to determine which adult male was to support a child.
  • Settlement Papers include several categories: Examinations papers, Settlement Certificates and Removal Orders. Vagrancy Passes were issued to permit a pauper to travel across parishes, usually as part of a Removal Order. All designed to specify which parish was to support a poor individual or family.
  • Apprenticeship Agreements were papers between the parish and the would-be master taking on the apprentice. If a child was orphaned, the parish would try and find an apprenticeship for them to relieve the burden on the parish funds.
  • Some individuals and families wound up in the Poorhouse. Some of those records carry on until about 100 years ago. See our Poorhouse and Almshouse page.

Postal and Shipping Guides

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

  • An odd hobby, perhaps, but there are a list of UK post offices and their history. Post offices are listed alphabetically by village, not by shire or parish.
  • Many people visit this site and ask about Postal Codes for various towns and villages. To get Postal Codes from the source, try The Royal Mail. As an alternative is a site where you just enter a street and number, and the code is returned. Visit Postal Codes.
  • Here is an index of place-names against the first part of UK post codes.

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.

Public Records


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.


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.

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:

  • Poll Books were used to record the votes that had been cast in an election. They normally have the voters' name, abode, and the place of freehold if different. Some list occupation as well. They are in order by place of abode, not by surname, so you need to have a location unless you are going to go through the whole poll book. These are normally found at the Archives, but the Central Library has copies for 1723-1868.
  • Where were your Grimsby and Cleethorpes people 80 years ago? Have you looked in the Absent Voters List?