London has been the beating heart of British politics, business and culture for centuries.


Throughout the capital’s exciting and sometimes turbulent history, many of our ancestors were drawn to London in search of a better life.

This means that if you get back far enough in your family tree, it’s highly likely that you’ll find an ancestor who was born, lived or died in London.

With 32 boroughs and a teeming and ever-shifting population, tracing your London ancestors can be challenging.

Luckily, these six websites are a great source of criminal and health records, film clips, historic background and more – and you don’t have to pay a penny.

1. Old Bailey Online

Old Bailey

This fully searchable database has information from crimes tried at the Old Bailey (later the Central Criminal Court) between 1674 and 1913.

2. Old and New London

Explore this popular illustrated history which was first published in the 1870s.

3. Collage: The London Picture Archive

Collage The London Picture Archive

Search more than 250,000 images taken from the collections of the Guildhall Art Gallery and the London Metropolitan Archives.

4. London's Screen Archives

Browse fascinating film clips drawn from borough collections across the metropolis.

5. London Lives

London's Screen Archives

Learn more about 18th century London with data drawn from the City of London sessions, plus City coroners’ records, some parish archives, and Carpenters’ Company and St Thomas’ Hospital records.

6. London's Pulse


Part of the Wellcome Library’s Digital Collections, here you can explore reports from the medical officer of health between 1848 and 1972, including birth and death rates.