What records are available?
The National Archives holds various records of foreigners coming to and settling in the UK over the last 600 years including ships’ passenger lists, records of naturalisation and denization.
There is a research guide on The National Archives website explaining what records are available and linking to the relevant place in The National Archives online catalogue. There is also useful information in the “easysearch” section on migration.
You might find the following The National Archives research guides helpful:
- Anglo-Jewish History: 18th - 20th centuries
- Internees: First and Second World Wars
- Naturalization and Citizenship: grants of British Nationality
- Refugees and Minorities
- Ships’ Passenger Lists
You could also look at the Moving Here website. The “Moving Here” project’s aim is to celebrate and explore why people moved to England and record what their experiences are and continue to be. Moving Here will focus on the experiences of people from the Caribbean, South Asian, Irish and Jewish (from Eastern Europe) communities, from the 1840s to the present day. There are guides on tracing your roots if you come from the Jewish, Caribbean, South Asian or Irish communities. You can search the Moving Here catalogue of digitised material and download digital documents free of charge. You can also add your story to the website. The Migration Histories Gallery gives histories of journeys and settlement in the UK for each community.
Material about Indian and Chinese seamen (lascars) serving on East Indiamen and other merchant ships can be found in the Oriental and India Office Collections (OIOC) at the British Library.
The British Library Caribbean section provides researchers with background information. These pages include information on the library’s National Sound Archive which includes oral history recordings.
Although many family history researchers use the London Gazette to find ancestors who were awarded medals during the First and Second World Wars, it could also be useful to you if your ancestor was granted a Certificate of Naturalization, or if they changed their name by deed poll. You can search the London Gazette archive online - you will be able to see the digital images of the original paper.