World Map Guild of One Name Studies


The history of the Easterbrook family name 



Easterbrook Name


West Country (excl.Devon)

South East England

Rest of British Isles






Australia and New Zealand


Other Surnames

Ancestor Trees


Monumental Inscriptions

Life Event Registration

Census Transcriptions

Document Transcriptions


Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional


I have used various sources to put together the genealogy of my family. The main ones are listed here with the most used first.

Note: This is work-in-progress and I have only documented the main sources of information.

Census of England and Wales

The UK Public Record Office releases the census returns for England and Wales via The Family History section of The National Archives. Census returns after 1920 are legally closed for 100 years and a similar closure has been applied to earlier censues. The most recent census is 1911, although the 1939 register is is available and is a good census substitute. Census returns prior to 1841 contained only counts and therefore are of little use to genealogists. Census records and indexes are available from:
  • available as per-per-view or by subscription. A subscription is the most cost effective resource if you want to look at a lot of records. Currently has 1841-1911 transcribed and indexed. Allows users to correct mistakes in the form of "alternative information" and this is included in the search results so the transcriptions gradually improve.
  • (formerly Pay-per-view and subscription access to censuses. Corrections are only performed by FindMyPast and seem to be rare. Currently the only source for the 1939 register.
  • Family Search (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) free index to 1881 census.
  • FreeCEN from Indexing of census by volunteers. Access is free. Coverage is variable but improving.
My main source has been, although I sometimes use the others as a check. The only irritation is that it does not list families or pages in the same order as the original document (they seem to be gradually changing this).

The accuracy of the censuses varies and there is lots of scope for error. The original was subject to variations in pronunciation and spelling, as well as those who had reason not to be recorded. The transcription to electronic form is dependent on the condition of the scanned image and ability to read Victorian script writing, and finally, there does seem to be missing sheets.

My observations are:

  • 1841 - Transcription depends on originals which varies from difficult to almost unreadable.
  • 1851 - Reasonable transcription accuracy. Seems to be mostly complete.
  • 1861 - Reasonable transcription accuracy but there are quite a few families I cannot find that appear 10 years later.
  • 1871 - Reasonable transcription accuracy and seems to be almost complete.
  • 1881 - Good transcription accuracy and seems to be almost complete.
  • 1891 - Reasonable transcription accuracy but there are many families I cannot find that appear 10 years earlier and/or later.
  • 1901 - Good transcription accuracy and seems to be almost complete.
  • 1911 - Both and have fairly complete transcriptions but the transcription accuracy is variable. The household returns were completed by the head of household so some of this accuracy is due to the variation in handwriting.
  • 1939 Register - Only available on FindMyPast. Seems to have a high number of transcription errors and contains less information than the censuses, in particular, place of birth and relationships are not recorded. It was updated up to the early 1990s so contains name changes and is therefore a useful reference for brides in 1939-1991 marriages.


Before the census records are useful you will need to trace your family history back to 1911 or earlier. The more common the surname(s) you are looking for, the more information you will need to find your ancestors. You probably need at least 3 pieces of unique information to get a definitive match, such as: location, occupation, place of birth, spouse or children's or parent(s)'s names.

Once you have a match in the one census, search for each family member in the previous census. Search the marriage index for the years just before the oldest child was born. Search the birth index for all individuals found. Search the death index for anyone who appears on one census but not the next. Sometimes these indexes give up information, but often you will find no match or several possible matches.

If you fail to find a match start to consider errors and variations. Any part of the name might have been recorded differently, e.g. Thos for Thomas, Wm for William. Eastbrook and Easterbrook. McGowan and Mc Gowan ( indexing does not work well with spaces). It is quite common for young children to be recorded with a familiar name (e.g. Flossie) and then switch to their formal name (Florence) or middle name when older. Harry and Henry seem to be interchangable at will in the 19th century in addition to looking very similar in Victorian script handwriting.

Census of Scotland

The source documents for the Census of Scotland are very similar to those of England and Wales, however, access is more limited and available from:
  • available as per-per-view or by subscription. This is the most cost effective resource if you want to look at a lot of records. Currently has 1841-1901 transcribed and indexed, however, original images are not available and the transcriptions are much less accurate than those for England and Wales.
  • FreeCEN from Indexing of census by volunteers. Access is free. Coverage is variable but improving.
  • available as pay-per-view.

Census of Ireland

Most of the Census records for Ireland before 1901 have been destroyed. A few isolated copies exist covering small areas.

The 1901 and 1911 census for the whole of the island of Ireland can be searched and viewed for free at The National Archives of Ireland.

Census of Canada

The first census for Canada to include full household schedules was taken in 1851 and then every 10 years (earlier censuses recorded only head of household).The earlier household censuses were before the formation of Canada so are of the territories that went on to form modern day canada and do not cover the whole area that is now Canada. The most recent released census is 1921, although there are later province census for Newfoundland.

The censuses of Canada are available from:

Birth, Marriage, and Death Civil Registration

BMD (Birth, Marriage, and Death) Index for England and Wales

Civil Registration of births, marriages and deaths started on 1 July 1837 in England and Wales. This was later expanded in 1927 to also include still births, and adoptions. The records are organised into the quarter in which the event was recorded by local registration district and an index of names compiled. Each quarter's records are copied to the central records office and again indexed by name. Copies of the certificates themselves are only available by personal application and cost between £7 and £10 each, thus they are not available for full transcription in the way the census records are. However, the indexes are available.

The central register indexes can be searched at:

  • FreeBMD - an ongoing project, the aim of which is to transcribe the Civil Registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales 1837-1983, and to provide free Internet access to the transcribed records.
  • - a copy of the FreeBMD database (1937-1915 only). This provides faster and easier searching (for subscribers) but it not fully up-to-date compared with FreeBMD.
  • - Searchable transcription of Civil Registration Index 1916-1983 with access to mages of originals, and copy of electronic register 1984-2005. Selected post-2005 death indexes also available.
  • General Register Office re-indexing of Birth and Death records (limited to those more than 100 years old).
The BMD index is of little use on its own as it only provides a name, district and quarter, but when used with other records it becomes a valuable reference.

The original records and indexes from 1837 were handwritten. Later they were typewritten and then from 1984 computerised.

Birth Index

  • 1837 to JunQ 1911 - These include only the childs given name and surname. Nearly 100% transcribed by FreeBMD. The records have been reindexed by the GRO to include mother's maiden name but searching is more limited than FreeBMD.
  • SepQ 1911 to DecQ 1983 - These also contain the mother's maiden (birth) name so it is much easier find the correct entry. Near 100% transcribed upto the mid 1920s.
  • Jan 1984 onwards - Computerised records give the month of registration as well as the mother's maiden name.
Once an approximate date of birth has been obtained from another source such as the census, the BMD can be searched for a match. Although the BMD index is incomplete and not 100% accurate, it is being transcribed by area so a search within a single area is better than a national search.

If only one match is found (allowing for appropriate inaccuracies in other records) there is a good chance that it is the person you are after and narrows the birth down to a 4-5 month period (the 3-month registration quarter, plus an allowance for delay in registering the event). Sometimes the BMD index reveals more information, for example, someone might be recorded in the census as "John F" but there is a BMD index for "John Francis". You should never rely on just a BMD index match though, if there is any doubt, a copy of the certificate should be ordered using the GRO reference obtain from the BMD index. With a GRO reference certificates cost about £10.

In later records births may be recorded under multiple surnames. For couples with different surnames (for example, because they are not married) it may be recorded under both surnames at the date of registration. If a child changes surname after birth (for example, switching from mother's to father's surname), there may be records for one or both surnames at both the original registration (hand written at the bottom of the index page) and at the date of the name change.

Tables of Easterbrook and variants are here and include cross-references to the rest of the site.

BMD - Marriage Index

  • 1837 to 1851 - There are up to 4 marriages (8 names) per page. Often fairly difficult to establish spouse without a copy of the certificate.
  • 1852 to 1911 - There are 1 or 2 marriages per page (usually 2 or 4 names). If there are 2 marriages additional information is required to match up the partners. If the given names are fairly distinct a match can usually be made from census returns.
  • 1912 to 1983 - Each entry also contains the spouses surname so it is easy to match up partners.
When matching spouses, be aware of:
  • Some partners may be recorded more than once, for example, a widow might be indexed under both her maiden name and previous married name. This usually leads to an odd number of names to a page.
  • The page number is often the most difficult column in the indexes to decipher, and thus entries are listed against the wrong page. If corrected, the original entry may remain. This usually leads to an odd number of names to a page, however, the presence of 2 errors may be difficult to differentiate from a good transcription.
  • If the volume or page number cannot be deciphered, a page may seem to be missing an entry. It is usually not possible to find the spouse from the index in this case.

Tables of Easterbrook and variants are here and include cross-references to the rest of the site.

Death Index

The death index is less useful than births and marriages, particularly for older records.
  • 1937-1865 originally were by quarter and name. They have been re-indexed by the GRO to include age at death (but does not distinguish between years, month, weeks and days so be careful with numbers less than 12).
  • 1866-1969 are by quarter and include age at death.
  • 1969 onwards include date of birth, and from 1984 are digital and are by month rather than quarter.

Civil Records in Scotland

Scottish records are available from Scotlands People. The indexes are free to search but records are pay-per-view and and contain more information than the English records.

Easterbrook Family History Last updated:site 2021-12-13 page 2021-03-12
© Copyright Mark Easterbrook 2003-2021 (Hampshire, England).
The Family Tree diagrams and reports are generated from a GeneWeb database.
The information on this page must be used only for personal genealogy purposes. Commercial use is not permitted.