This page gives information on tracing family history in the East Kent area, within the Diocese of Canterbury.
Before starting family history research, it would be useful to consult some of the guides available online or in print. A very useful introduction has been produced by the Canterbury branch of the Kent Family History Society. This includes good guidance on online resources. See also the BBC guidance on starting family history and guidance from The National Archives.
It is recommended to research family history backwards, from more recent times. Central registration of births, marriages and deaths begins in 1837. Various indexes to these records are available online.
Church registers pre-1837
For research before 1837, church registers of baptisms, marriages and burials are an invaluable resource. For a map of historic Church of England parishes in Kent, see here. Historic church records for the current Diocese of Canterbury are held in either of the two archives centres in Kent. Those for the eastern half of the diocese are held at Canterbury Cathedral Archives with those for the western half held at the Kent History and Library Centre in Maidstone. Many of these records are available either on Findmypast or Ancestry. These websites can be accessed from home or your local library.
Before visiting one of the archives centres, do check their websites, and make an appointment before your visit.
Other family history resources
Until 1858, wills were proved by church courts. For an index to historic wills for the Diocese of Canterbury, see http://wills.canterbury-cathedral.org/
Wills proved in the court for the whole province of Canterbury, known as the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, are held at The National Archives. These records cover southern England and some of Wales.
The two archives centres in Kent also hold historic marriage licences for the diocese, which are another very useful source. Parish collections may include other records which can help family history research, including bishops’ transcripts (copies made from church registers), overseers’ and churchwardens’ records, and transcriptions of memorial inscriptions.
Both archive centres and also local history libraries hold many non-church records which can be used for family history research.
For historic records of clergy, see http://theclergydatabase.org.uk/ and www.lambethpalacelibrary.org/content/anglicanclergy