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Westminster family history records move from Findmypast to Ancestry

Over five million Westminster parish records have now been digitised by Ancestry

1935 Westminster marriage records, available on Ancestry

Digitised images of more than five million parish records from Westminster have been removed from Findmypast and are now available on Ancestry.

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Findmypast first secured the rights to publish Westminster Archives’ records, including parish registers, Poor Law records and surviving records of the 1821 census for the borough, in 2012.

Westminster Archives has now signed a new deal with Ancestry, which is now in the process of digitising the records.

Findmypast still holds transcriptions of the records, but the original images have been removed from the website.

The new additions mean that Ancestry, which already had an exclusive deal with London Metropolitan Archives, is the leading resource for tracing forebears in London.

Kristian Lafferty, content acquisition manager at Ancestry, said: “We had been talking to Westminster Archives for a while about working with them.

“Eventually they asked us if we would take on the parish registers from scratch.

“It makes sense because we have the agreement with the London Metropolitan Archives and there was this patch of London where the records weren’t available on Ancestry.”

Ancestry is newly digitising the original records in colour, whereas Findmypast digitised microfiches of the records.

This also allows Ancestry to add records that were acquired by the archive since its original deal with Findmypast.

Furthermore, Ancestry is creating its own transcription of the records.

Lafferty said that the digitisation process had been delayed because of the coronavirus, but now all of the records have been digitised apart from some Poor Law documents.

Ancestry added its first tranche of Westminster parish records on 1 August 2020.

The records currently consist of 2,516,567 parish records (1558−1812); 1,253,090 baptisms (1813−1919); 1,302,722 banns and marriages (1754−1935); and 215,434 burials (1812−1910).

The site is scheduled to release Westminster nonconformist records in January 2021, cemetery registers in June, probate records in August, and Poor Law records in January 2022.

Other Westminster records Ancestry hopes to acquire in the future include electoral rolls and the 1821 census.

The deal does not include the separate records of Westminster Abbey Library, but Lafferty said Ancestry hopes to acquire them at a later date.

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Rosemary Collins is the staff writer of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine