London, England Public Record Office
National Archives Public Record Office
Richmond TW9 4DU
020 8876 3444
Hours: Mon. – Sat / 09:00 – 17:00 GMT
The Public Record Office (“PRO”) is located 12.8747 km from the centre of London, in the southwest district of Richmond, along the Thames. The Public Record Office is home to a large collection of official central government and court documents for England and Wales. It contains over 11 million archival documents of court proceedings and some private records which date back to the Middle Ages, including an original special manuscript entitled the Doomesday Book of 1086. The PRO further archives modern government papers, collections of photographs, maps, early drawings and paintings. The public is not charged a fee and getting there is as easy as taking the District underground line from Victoria Station to the Richmond stop.
The documents are being stored in digital format and presently in microfilm format. The Public Record Office contains family genealogical history records, but not of births, adoptions or marriages. The family archives at the PRO contain historical information which is related to family members that served in the British armed forces. The 18th and 19th century naturalisation personnel, such as soldiers, marines, sailors and seamen who served, who became prisoners or who were also emigrants, would be recorded here. Families can search their ancestors’ army, navy and air force records to locate some semblance of historical family reference records.
The majority of other genealogical records denoting births, marriage, deaths and adoptions can be researched at the PRO’s partner location on Myddelton Street, London, called the Family Records Centre and the Office of National Statistics. The Public Record Office is one of the largest and most comprehensive ancestral archives in Europe, housing records identified above. Other historical documents include customs and excise documents, police documents and the Royal Irish Constabulary documents.
The Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Justice are the government overseers of the Public Record Office. The Public Record Office is one of several ancestral and genealogical record holders under the banner of The National Archives of England, Wales and the United Kingdom. Other historical document offices include the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office and the Office of Public Sector Information. Researching references in the PRO office is helped by tools which people can use to interpret handwriting records from 1500 to 1800. The handwriting deciphering tools, are tutorials which are used to interpret Latin documents and medieval abbreviations.