The information on this page, and on the accompanying Town & Parish pages is organised by the set of subject headings that the LDS Family History Library use for categorising genealogical research material. Above are the available headings for Cumberland; but see How the information on this server is presented to the user for further details, and for an overall list.

"CUMBERLAND, A maritime and border county of England [Map (above) shows location], having the counties of Dumfries and Roxburgh on the north, Northumberland and Durham on the east, Westmorland and Lancashire on the south, the Irish Sea on the west, and the Solway Firth on the NW.; length, NE. and SW., 75 miles; extreme breadth, E. and W., 45 miles; average breadth, 22 miles; coast line, about 75 miles; area, 970,161 acres, population 250,647. The coast on the Solway is low and sandy, but on the Irish Sea it is lofty and rugged; chief promontory, St Bees Head. In the NW. the country is open and flat; it is watered by the Eden and other streams, and consists chiefly of verdant meadows and good arable land. From this plain the surface rises towards the east and south into a region with deep defiles or dales, which form the mountainous district of "The Lakes". Coal and iron are extensively worked in the west, the coalfield stretching from the neighbourhood of Whitehaven to that of Maryport. Numerous blast furnaces are constantly at work. Plumbago or black lead is obtained in considerable quantities near Keswick. Slate, limestone, and sandstone are abundant. Copper, cobalt, antimony, manganese, and gypsum are also found. Owing to the general elevation of the land, and the moisture of the climate, the cultivation of the soil is less attended to than the rearing of sheep and cattle. The dairy produce is very considerable. Woollen manufactures are carried on to some extent at Carlisle and some other places The County comprises 5 wards, 208 parishes, the parliamentary and municipal borough of Carlisle (1 member), and the parliamentary borough of Whitehaven (1 member). It is mostly in the diocese of Carlisle. For parliamentary purposes it is divided into 4 divisions, viz., Northern or Eskdale, Mid or Penrith, Cockermouth, and Western or Egremont, 1 member for each division."
[Extract from Bartholemew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887]


Archives & Libraries








Church History

  • Steve Bulman's Images of Cumbria site provides parish descriptions and photographs, as well as an excellent bibliography and glossary.
  • Churches in Cumbria (part of the Visit Cumbria website) features Carlisle Cathedral, and over 100 smaller churches around Cumbria.

Church Records

  • Transcriptions of a selection of Cumberland parish records are available from the "Cumberland Roots" website (archived site). 
  • The searchable LDS website - IGI and Familysearch
    Note on using IGI Batch Numbers:
    It is not always easy to locate your ancestors in the IGI using the search mechanisms provided at the above LDS site. Manually typing the batch numbers into the IGI search screen can be tedious. Hugh Wallis has made an exhaustive search of the likely ranges of batch numbers and created a database of those numbers and the source records that they apply to. A very powerful feature included is a hotlink from each batch number to the actual search engine provided at the Family Search site, including the ability to enter the surname you are looking for. This makes it very easy to search all the batches for a particular geographic location using just the last name you are searching for - something that is not possible directly from the LDS site without doing a lot of typing. This is Hugh Wallis's site.
  • The Society of Genealogists web site has a list of their holdings of Parish Register Copies for Cumberland. .
  • Information on the location of Quaker Records in Cumberland provided by the Quaker FHS.

Civil Registration

Civil Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths in England and Wales began on July 1st 1837. Copies of certificates may be obtained from either the General Register Office (GRO), or from a Superintendent's Registrar's Office of the District at which the event was first registered. If the District no longer exists, this would be the Office to which its registers have been moved.
  • Obtaining a certificate from a Superintendent Registrar's Office.
    • The original records of events, completed by the Registrar of the time, have always been retained by the District Registrar. In Cumberland, these records are currently held in nine different locations within the county, and in the past an application would be made to the Superintendent Registrar at one of these locations to search the local indexes he or she holds to the registers, and produce a certificated copy from the original record of the event. However in recent years, volunteers have been transcribing these records, and the Cumberland Registration Service now offer the facility to search an index to the records online, and to obtain copies directly. The details required for such a request are name and surname, the event type (ie birth, marriage or death), and the year the event took place, and a search will be made of 5 years either side of that year, if an entry for that year isn't found. For more details of this service see Cumberland BMD Indexes online. The cost of a certificate obtained this way is £9.00. You may still need to contact one of the local offices if the registers have not yet been computerised. Details of the Local Register Office to contact are on the above site, and a complete list of all districts may be found in Brett Langston's list of Cumberland Registration Districts (1837-1974).
  • Obtaining a certifcate from the GRO
    • Certificates from the GRO are issued from copies of the original records; however there is considerable advantage in being able to search indexes to the whole country in one place, so many people prefer to do this, rather than risk a protracted search locally. The first step is to obtain a GRO reference to the event. You can then order certificates online via the Certificate Ordering Service of the General Register Office website. From 6th April 2010, the cost of a certificate obtained this way is £9.25. You can obtain a GRO reference in several ways:-
      1. Searching microfilm or fiche at a Library or LDS Family History Centre.
      2. FreeBMD is an ongoing project to make the General Register Office (GRO) Indexes freely available online. More volunteers are needed and details of how you can help are available on-site.
      3. findmypast.co.uk (formerly 1837online) - images of the complete BMD indexes from the GRO online. Fee payable
      4. The images are also available on Ancestry.co.uk for which a subscription provides access to a wide range of other records.
  • Obtaining a certificate for a recent event
    • The cost of a certificates issued at the time of registration of a current birth, death or marriage is £3.50 for each copy.
    • After registration (for instance, the following day) the cost is £7.00, providing the register is still current (within 28 days of the last entry in the register)
    • After a registration book is complete, 28 days later, the register is deposited with the Superintendent Registrar of the district. From that point onwards, applications should be made to the appropriate district office, and certificates will cost the same as any 'old' certificate obtained locally - £9.00.

Correctional Institutions

  • The Prison Service Museum near Rugby houses HM Prison Service's historical collection of exhibits, illustrating the history of imprisonment from medieval times to the present day. Housed in a converted stable block, the museum contains reconstructions of Victorian prison architecture, and exhibits include the last set of Gibbet Irons used in England. Smaller items include bone carvings and paintings made by prisoners in their cells, and a nineteenth century sampler embroidered by a female prisoner from her own hair Admission to the museum is by appointment only, please contact:-
    The Curator,
    HM Prison Service Museum,
    Newbold Revel,
    CV23 0TH
    [Information compiled from "The Penal Lexicon Home Page", formerly at www.penlex.org.uk/pages/index.html.]

Description & Travel




Emigration & Immigration

  • For help finding your ancestors onboard ship - The Ships List - of particular interest are the large number of transcribed passenger lists, and records of some Marriages at Sea. 


  • Nigel Batty-Smith's site providing UK Genealogy Archives of Cumberland has a description of the county from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1894-5.
  • The section of The National Gazetteer (1868) relating to Cumberland - transcribed by Colin Hinson.
  • The transcription of the section for Miscellaneous Descriptions from the National Gazetteer (1868) provided by Colin Hinson. Included here are the descriptions of major topological features (rivers, hills &c.) and a descriptions of the county ward divisions.
  • You may also find it worthwhile searching in the GENUKI Gazetteer. The GENUKI Gazetteer covers the whole of England, Wales and Scotland and can be searched by place-name (or part of a place-name) or Ordnance Survey Grid Reference (six-figure, eg NY390550). If there are multiple place-names matching the name you enter, you will be presented initially with a drop-down list of the matching place-names, and (when known), their nearest identifiable place.



Historical Geography



  • Brian Pears has provided two LNER Wartime Evacuation Documents (N.EVAC 2 and N.EVAC 3) describing arrangements for evacuating children from Newcastle and Gateshead to rural parts of Northumberland, Co Durham, Yorkshire, Cumberland and Westmorland. The second document includes lists of schools with details of their places and times of departure and their destinations.
  • A digital library of medieval and modern sources of the history of the British Isles - British History Online. Notable sources include Journals of the House of Commons and House of Lords, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae, and the Victoria County History
  • An Encyclopaedia of British History: 1700-1950 - useful for seeing local events against a national perspective. Scroll down the introductory page on this site to see topics - Monarchy, Child Labour, The Railways, &c.
  • The Domesday Book Online "to enable visitors to find out the history of the Domesday Book and to give an insight into life at the time of its compilation". Note this site does not provide the original text, but does include a list settlements existing in 1086.

Land & Property

  • Some abstracts of Cumberland Feet of Fines (land conveyances) covering 1485-1509 - on Chris Phillips Medieval English Genealogy web site.
  • Mike Durtnall is providing a country-wide collection of Historical Manuscripts Pages recording details of deeds that have been offered for sale on eBay and in auction catalogues. In most cases whereabouts of the documents will be unknown, but sufficient details of the property involved and of buyers, sellers, mortages, &c. is provided to make them a useful research tool.

Law & Legislation



  • British History Online - Ordnance Survey 1:10,560 Maps - The County Series of Ordnance Survey maps for Great Britain. Begun in 1840, this is the first comprehensive historic mapping of England, Scotland and Wales. 
  • Access to various satellite map sites (Google, MS Live, &c.) via the convenient front end of Zoom Earth
  • The London Ancestor site has maps from the 1885 Boundary Commissioners report for all parts of the British Isles, including Cumberland [Northern section] and Cumberland [Southern section] (Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1885)
  • Kain, R.J.P., Oliver, R.R., Historic Maps of England and Wales: Boundaries before 1850. Previously available for purchase on CDROM - link provided for reference.
  • The Old Maps web site has a wonderful series of 1:10,560 scale historical maps for the whole of the UK available on-line.
  • Genmaps - a collection of 'Old and Interesting Maps of England, Wales and Scotland' for Genealogists and Historians.
  • The above Genmaps Links pages lists Great Britain - Medieval Maps, which in turn provides several maps including an intriguing Ecclesiastical Map of the British Isles in the Middle Ages, which shows the principal Monasteries, demonstrating some of the earliest centres of habitation and influence.
  • Detailed Maps of the area you may be interested in Cumberland/Cumbria are viewable at the UK Street Map Page. The site provides a most useful service, with superb address searching and street map facilities for anywhere in mainland Great Britain.

Medical Records

  • Medical Heritage of Great Britain-  a site produced by the Bath & Wessex Medical History Group, providing detailed information on a county level of the history of medical treatments, and locations of some associated buildings.

Military History

  • Two very comprehensive sites featuring Castles and Fortifications - CastleUK.net
  • The Age of Nelson - a website providing general information about the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars 1793-1815, and specifically searchable databases of those present at Trafalgar (and more) and of all Commissioned Naval Officers 1787-1822.
  • Names from Musters of the Cumberland Militia 1781-82 are available for purchase on floppy disk or microfiche through Family History Indexes (the link to Militia Musters is part way down the page).





Poor Houses, Poor Law

  • A site "dedicated to the Workhouse - its buildings, its inmates, its staff and administrators, and even its poets..." - The Workhouse - created by Peter Higginbotham.

Probate Records

  • In general terms, Wills prior to 1858 of people having property within the ancient Diocese of Carlisle were proved in the Consistory Court there. Records from 1548 to 1858 include original wills, letters of administration and inventories, although there are significant gaps in the years before 1661. These are deposited with the County Record Office at Carlisle. Comprehensive indexes exist, at the Carlisle CRO, in card files easily accessible in the reading room. The indexes cover from 1617 to 1941, listing the year of probate and the residence of the deceased. This is extraordinarily helpful in distinguishing between many individuals of the same name. Microfilm of many of these records, and a partial typescript of the indexes, is available at the Kendal office of the CRO.
  • The Province of York covered most of northern England, including Bewcastle, and anyone who died leaving property in more than one diocese within the province would have their will proved in the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of York (PCY) or sometimes in the Chancery Court of the Archbishop of York. These records are now deposited with York University, Borthwick Institute of Historical Research
  • For probate from 1858 on, and general information, see our England - Probate page.
  • See also Cumberland Probate Records Online for an overview, and links to online collections elsewhere.
  • Abstracts of Cumberland Probate Records

Religion & Religious Life




Social Life & Customs

  • Mother Bedford - "a website devoted primarily to the history of Old-Bedford County, Pennsylvania during the American Revolutionary War period" - a fascinating site including items of general historical interest eg:
    1. Apposite to the time of adding: The Celebration of Christmas.
    2. Examples of music our ancestors may have enjoyed: The Music of the 1770s: a Directory.
  • Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs in England and Wales to 1516 - The Gazetteer, compiled by Dr Samantha Letters is a catalogue of Markets and Fairs in Medieval England and Wales. First comprehensive National Survey, with detailed information about grants of Charters to all Market Towns.
  • Costume History (archived copy) - from Ancient Babylon through to 1990s - a very comprehensive site on Fashion and Dress through the ages.


  • The E 179 Database (on the National Archives website) contains detailed information about over 26,000 documents relating to the taxation of lay people in England and Wales between c.1200 and c.1700. These documents are likely to contain many names.

This county is maintained by **Job vacancy** with help and information provided by a number of other volunteers.