Family history & biographical research

The Library and Museum is the repository for the archives of the United Grand Lodge of England, the governing body of English freemasonry. Information about individual members is based on Annual Returns of members compiled by individual lodges and sent to Grand Lodge. The earliest such Returns date from the 1750s. These were used to create registers of members. Members are listed in the Registers under their lodge and according to their date of initiation or joining.

The type of information normally recorded in the membership registers are age, address and occupation and date of joining the lodge. The records do not contain any personal details regarding date of birth or marriage, details of family members or change of address.
The records cover lodges meeting in England and Wales and certain overseas areas, now or once forming part of the British Empire or Commonwealth.

The original Membership Registers cannot be made available to individuals to conduct their own research due to their conservation needs. However there are two ways in which these registers can be accessed.

Digitised Records on Ancestry

Over 1.7 million names listed in the registers from 1751-1921, fully searchable by individual name, are now available on www.ancestry.co.uk. You can access the records from anywhere in the world by taking an Ancestry subscription or you can use them for free in the Library and Museum during our opening hours. Ancestry is also accessible at many local record offices and some libraries.

The Library and Museum Research Service

Library and Museum staff can undertake searches from the digitised records for you and can also search for members before the 1750s or after 1921. A search fee is payable where no lodge name or number is known and this is not refundable in the event of a negative result. The fee is £31 per name. (This fee is £16.50 per name for members of the United Grand Lodge of England). If a lodge name or number is known this search service is free of charge.

Please complete the search request form – click here

Download our Information Sheet About Freemasonry and Family History (pdf) for additional help before making a search request.

Further reading

My Ancestor was a Freemason (external website opens in a new window) by Pat Lewis. Published by the Society of Genealogists. 2005. £5.95. Available from good book shops, the Society of Genealogists or online from the Library and Museum Shop at www.letchworthshop.co.uk (see Publications/History) (external website opens in a new window)

A small number of research resources are available online at this site in addition to the catalogue of books, archives and objects. These can be found on the Resources page.