Searching Burke's Peerage Online Database
The Burke's Peerage Online Database is an extraordinarily rich source of genealogical information; many of the family trees in the database contain information on hundreds of individuals. This section will help you to get the most out of this unique resource.
You can search on the following:
- Family Name
This is the primary surname associated with a Burke's Peerage record.
- Person Last Name & Person First Name
These are the names of any person appearing in the database.
- Titular Place
This is the name of a place associated directy with the family or the person. Such places appear in names such as Bosville Macdonald of Sleat, where SLEAT is such a place, or Duke of Buccleuch; ie "titular places" are placenames which appear after "of" following a surname.
- Year Born/Married/Died
You can select a range of years within which the person you are interested was born, married or died. For many people appearing in the Burke's Peerage records there is no date of birth, marriage or death, so you can select whether to include or exclude undated entries as well as entries matching the year range selected.
You can search all areas covered by the records or restrict the search to America, Ireland, North-West England, Scotland, Wales or Yorkshire (Note that you cannot restrict the search just to "England"). Each family is associated with one, or sometime more regions, and this field can help narrow a search of you know which region you are interested in. (The regions correspond to Burke's Peerage print publications.)
You can restrict the search to specific Burke's print publications: Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, Burke's Landed Gentry, American Families, American Presidential Families, or Contemporary (the latter are generally prominent people who do not appear in the Peerage & Baronetage or Landed Gentry publications).
- Free text searching
Click here for more help with Free text searching
There can be different families with the same surname. For example, there are 14 MACDONALD families. Bear in mind that a record for a particular family will contain information on people with other surnames too. For example, for one of the Macdonald families, BOSVILLE MACDONALD OF SLEAT, the database contains entries for people with the surnames BETHUNE, BOSVILLE, CHAMBERLAYNE, EVANS, FELL, LINDESAY and TRAPP. If you know that it is particular family you are interested in it may suffice to search on Family Name, but if it is a particular surname you are interested in you would more often search on Person Last Name.
"Multi-barrelled" Family Names
Where the Family Name has multiple components (eg "double-barrelled" names), you can search on the full name or on any of the components. So for Bosville Macdonald, you can search on "BOSVILLE", or "MACDONALD" or "BOSVILLE MACDONALD" (It does not matter whether you put a hyphen between each name or not).
While there are over 15,000 separate Family Names in the Burke's Peerage database, there are over half a million index entries for specific people, with a wide range of surnames. To search on people generally within the Burke's Peerage database you will use the Person Last Name and (optionally) the Person First Name fields. (Note that since for every family there will be at least one person indexed, searching simply on a Person Last Name will automatically include the Family surname.)
If you enter both a Family Name and a Person Last Name, you will restrict the search to those records with that Family Name.
Note that although only half a million names are contained in the index database, there are over a million people included in the Burke's Peerage records, not all of which are yet indexed. This applies particularly to spouses, where the forename and surname of the person may be separated; for example:
married 26 Nov 1915 Marion Cecil (died 26 Dec 1955), daughter of Lt-Col W Patterson,
So it can be well worth while doing further searches within a record to see if there are other names of interest appear.
"Multi-barrelled" Last Names
Where the Person Last Name has multiple components (eg double, triple or even quadruple-barrelled names), you can search on the full name or on any of the components. So for Alston-Roberts-West, you can search on ALSTON, ROBERTS, WEST, ALSTON-ROBERTS, ROBERTS-WEST, or ALSTON-ROBERTS-WEST. (The hyphen can be inserted or left out; it does not affect the search.)
The Burke's Peerage records frequently include first name diminutives and nicknames; they also usually show where a person normally uses a forename other than the first. These situations are all dealt with in the database. Thus, for example, Henry Charles McLaren is usually referred to simply as Charles McLaren; you will find him either searching for HENRY or searching for CHARLES. John ('Jeb') Ellis Bush can be searched for as JOHN BUSH or as JEB BUSH.
Diminutives (eg Steve for Stephen, Bill for William, Molly for Margaret) will often be dealt with automatically via NameX, but we have tried to ensure as far as possible that where a diminutive is included in the Burke's Peerage record as well as the full forename, both appear in the database - so you can search on either.
When searching for names which may contain accented characters (surnames or forenames) do use the un-accented character when searching. This is to avoid possible problems in trying to enter accented characters on a normal "QWERTY" keyboard. So for example, to search for Cécile enter CECILE; to search for Sîan enter SIAN; for Zilhäo enter ZILHAO; etc.
You can search on Titular Place without entering a Family Name of Person Name, to locate records which may contain information about people associated with particular places you are interested in. Though the "titular" place is often part of a formal title this is not always the case in the database.
Searching the displayed record
The Burke's Peerage Online records often contain many forenames without the surname being explicitly shown. This is particularly common for children of the main family but can occur also for other families mentioned in a record. Most of the people mentioned are indexed by surname and forename, but that will just lead you to the record, not to the exact place in the record. Since many Burke's Peerage records are quite lengthy it can sometimes be tricky to find the references to the people you are searching.
When you have displayed the full Burke's Peerage record (using the "View Full Record" function), you can search inside that record. The simplest way to do this on a Windows PC is to enter Control-F on your keyboard. A search box ("Find") will then appear toward the top left of your screen, and you can enter the name you are looking for there.