17/10/2012 12:17 BST | Updated 17/10/2012 12:17 BST

Plotting Your Family Tree: Migration And Travel

Britain may be an island, but it has never been isolated from the rest of the world. Our ancestors have been travelling to and from our shores for generations. With the migration records at Ancestry.co.ukAdvertisement, you can follow them all over the globe, and discover their incredible stories.


Perhaps your family were among the Jews who came from Russia and Germany in the 19th and 20th centuries, or the West Indians looking for new homes after World War II? If you know you’re descended from immigrants, or you have a surname that hints at a foreign link, you can trace your ancestors that first arrived in this country and uncover their origins at Ancestry.co.ukAdvertisement.


Or maybe they left Britain for new adventures overseas? If you’ve been following your ancestors through the censuses and you suddenly find that one of them disappears, they may well have emigrated. You might find that they went to the old colonies in the USA or Canada, or even that they were transported to Australia as a criminal.

How to find them

1. Passenger lists - Whichever direction your family was going in, the most useful records are passenger lists, created for each voyage that a ship sailed. These tell you all the people that were onboard, and reveal details such as their ages, occupations, home countries and eventual destinations. Some go even further and include information on their education and previous travel.

2. Passport applications – Useful for finding those ancestors who may have been considering leaving the country.

3. ‘Alien arrivals’ lists – For relatives who came to Britain to make it their new home.

4. Naturalisation papers – Created when your ancestors became citizens of their new countries.

Once you’ve discovered which country your family settled in, you can find out more about their ongoing lives with census records and birth, marriage and death registers for that country.

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