Welcome to our first installment of Off The Record, our new fortnightly blast from the (Findmy)past. We have so many records in our collection, with new ones coming in all the time, and it's easy to forget about some of our older gems. Off The Record will highlight some of these buried treasures, any of which could be valuable to your family history research.

Sign up for free, & discover your family's story

We'll be running with a different theme in each installment, showing off four record sets with one each from the UK, Ireland, US, and Australia and New Zealand every time.

We hope you enjoy revisiting these record sets, and that they prove useful in solving some of your family history puzzles!


TheDeath Duty Registers

The Death Duty Registers 1796 to 1903 are a great resource, certainly worth bearing in mind as you get a little further back in your family tree. A key record set from the National Archives, they cover over 3.3 million records, plus images, spanning the William IV - Edward VII, covering the whole Victorian period . Clearly indexed and easy to search, they can offer some very useful information to add to your family tree.

  • The deceased’s name, address, and final occupation
  • What happened to the deceased’s personal estate after their death
  • What the estate was worth, taking into account expenses and debt
  • The date and location where probate was granted
  • Information about the estates, legacies trustees, legatees, and annuities
  • The amount of duty that was paid

Death duty covered three forms of tax; legacy duty, succession duty, and estate duty. They were created in the same courts where the wills were proved and probate granted. Their purpose was to record information about the estates where taxes were due.

The Ireland Deaths 1864-1870

The Ireland Deaths 1864-1870 are transcripts from a selection of Irish death records from the early days of civil registration. Certificates from this period can be a very useful means of pinpointing someone’s birth date when that pre-dated Civil Registration.

Start exploring the Ireland Deaths 1864-1870

Civil registration of births, deaths and (Catholic) marriages in Ireland started in 1864. Deaths were registered by 'registration district' administrative areas which often crossed county borders, so it might be useful for you to consult our map of county boundaries, just to check you’re searching in the right area.

As the entries are relatively brief, it might be useful to verify the accuracy of your findings by comparing information for more than one member of a family, to be sure that the individual you’re looking at is definitely your relative.

We hope that these records open a new window into your family history research. Look out for our next installment of Off The Record in a fortnight's time to discover more about our forgotten trove of records!

The U.S. Veteran's Gravesites

The U.S. Veteran's Gravesites contains 7.6 million death records of people who served or are related to those who served, and are buried in various Veterans Affairs (VA) National Cemeteries, state veterans cemeteries, or other military cemeteries. The information is gathered from a variety of sources, so information in the transcripts will vary.

This wonderful collection covers burials for military veterans from the Revolution to the present day, and provides vital information about an individual as well as details on their military service.


The Purewa Cemetary burials and cremations

These records are a wonderful resource, containing the names (respectively) of 43,000 and 65,000 people. You can find the precise location of your ancestor’s grave in the cemetery using the site map and the plot number included in their record. The transcriptions also include useful information such as the deceased’s birth year, age, last residence, the date of their burial and cremation, and the funeral director who overlooked their internment.

Purewa (which means “to float” in Maori) Cemetery is located in Auckland, New Zealand, but people from all over the world are laid there to rest.  Purewa is the burial place of Victoria Cross recipient, George Dare Dowell, who was born in Fishbourne on the South Coast of England. According to our Victoria Cross Recipients records, George was awarded the Cross for his action aboard the cutter HMS Arrogant on 13 July 1855.

Start exploring the Purewa Cemetary Cremations

Then a Lieutenant at the Fort of Viborg, he volunteered to go to the ship’s assistance when he saw an explosion on board. George picked up some of her crew and towed the stricken boat out of range of enemy guns. He was buried in Grave 4385B in Purewa Cemetary on 5 August 1910, aged 74 years.