Sources for family history in the Parliamentary Archives

Thousands of people appear in documents in the Parliamentary Archives, for many different reasons.

Below are some of the types of record that your ancestor might feature in. You might also want to see our case studies on finding ancestors in personal paper collections  and divorce records.

Naturalisation records

Before 1844, foreigners wishing to become British subjects (the process known as naturalisation) had to do so by obtaining a private Act of Parliament.

Protestation Returns

Protestation Return Denbigh borough detail

The Protestation Returns are the closest record we have to a census from 1642.

Returns of Roman Catholics

Between 1680 and 1781, Parliament requested information about known or reputed Roman Catholics on a number of occasions.

Deposited plans

Thousands of roads, railways, canals and other public works were built by Act of Parliament and affected many people.

Petitions to Parliament

Many people have signed petitions to the House of Lords and House of Commons over the centuries.

Witnesses to Committees on Private Bills

The Private Bill witness database is a giant name index of potential use for family historians.

Related information

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Living Heritage

Explore the history, building and collections of Parliament, and find out about the impact of Parliament on everyday lives over the centuries