The UK archives network is the first hit if you just google “A2A”. Not every repository in England and Wales are included, but you can use the archives network to search across the vast majority of record offices for documents from the eighth century up to the present day.
This is very handy if you’re not sure where exactly the records you’re looking for are to be found. Be aware that some records may not be in the repositories you expect – documents can sometimes have strange, migratory habits. For example, a few thirteenth century records for the Cantilupe family are in the Shakespeare Centre Library and Archive (why, I am not entirely sure), and one of my Corbet charters is in the Lancashire Record Office, in Preston.
Click “Advanced Search” to filter results, and you end up on this page:
If you do know which repository in particular you want, you can select it from the drop-down list. If you’re not sure, but want to filter instead by region, there’s a list for that too – or you can leave both blank, and only fill in the search terms and date range (if known).
In this instance, I searched for the Moton family, 1200-1400. Again, I know they were around in Leicestershire at this time, but they may also pop up elsewhere. A grant sealed by a Moton family member pertaining to Leiscetershire may have been given to an individual whose own lands were elsewhere.
There’s 133 results for “Moton” in this date range. If you look on the right, you can see the “Summary of Results” which allows you to filter the results you’ve got, both by repository and by collection within that repository. Narrowing it down to Leicestershire’s repository reduces this number to 2 – searching for “Moton, seal” and date range “1200-1400” without specifying the repository leaves us with 8 results.
When you click through to see one of the results, you end up on a page that looks something like this:
This list shows the record you want to view, and the other records available in that same collection. Clicking on the other references will open the records up in a similar manner. Unlike the National Archive records, you only get very minimal information about each record – some records will have more information than others.
Make a note of the references – ignore the [no title] and write down the repository in question, and the BOLD code, letters and numbers. The italic number on the end is the date of the record.
In the above example, the reference is DDTO K 9/32, and the date is 1380.
There’s “no title” because it’s not a book or newspaper record – so there’s no title to provide.
Need more help with searching? Click here to view the A2A Guide.
Which Repositories Are Covered?
Hopefully there’s something for everyone!