Return to The England Project
Return to The Orphan Trail Part 1
This page was last revised in April 2020.
The England Project aims to develop the profiles of all people born in England to the highest possible standard with
- well sourced biographies using inline references,
- appropriate categories and images,
- research notes (if required) and
- connection to the global tree.
This page is intended as a guide for all Wikitree members developing English profiles. If you have a question about the specifics of English profile building, help is available at any stage from:
- the Wikitree England Google group if you are a member of the England Project
- by asking a question on G2G - add the tag ENGLAND so that the England Project team sees it.
- contacting the relevant County team
The England Project follows Wikitree's Styles and Standards.
- Font: Wikitree standard default font.
- Type colour: black
- Spelling: as per the Oxford English Dictionary
- Punctuation: avoid the use of exclamation marks and do not use emojis.
- The use of the Oxford Comma is acceptable.
- When creating a profile ensure that names are correctly spelled, especially with respect to the Last Name at Birth (LNAB). The name field guidelines provide detailed information for each name field.
- If the LNAB is truly not known, enter Unknown in mixed case.
- Do not use the Middle name field or Other nickname field for descriptive placeholders (such as an occupation or location ) unless that person would have been well known by such a description and it is documented in a source. Do not add your own private codes for family members in this box.
- Middle names are rare before 1700.
- Do not assume that a married woman took her husband's surnames on marriage especially in the Border counties adjoining Scotland. The Scottish tradition is for the woman to keep the name she was born with.
- Do not enter Mr, Mrs, Miss in the prefix field. These titles may be used in the Biography.
- Use Sir only when a man was knighted. Do not use Knight (or an abbreviation thereof) in the suffix field.
- Dame is the female equivalent of an English knight. The wife of a knight is styled Lady.
- Do not add temporary positions or posts to the prefix field
- Military rank - enter the highest rank attained.
- Do not use Senior and Junior in the suffix box. Only use it in the biography if the people themselves used that designation (rare in English families) and it is documented in a source.
- Do not use generational numbering for given names repeated in successive generations.
- Esquire (shortened to Esq.) is used historically only where the person was of the gentry but not nobility.
- The suffix field may be used for Honours bestowed by the Monarch (Crown Honours) or military awards
- The suffix field may be used for academic awards and membership of professional bodies or learned societies.
- The Order of Precedence of post-nomial letters is listed here in Debrett's
- We use the titles for English Nobility as per the naming conventions developed by the European Aristocrats team (Euroaristo) and specifically their British Royal and Aristocrats team. Titles are entered in the "Other Nicknames" data field.
- Knights are referred as Sir Forename Surname, in the biography shortened to Sir Forename (never Sir Surname).
- Further guidance on the correct styling of titles and forms of address is covered by Debrett's:
- English date notation is day-month-year. Type the date in full in the data fields. Spell out the date in full (including the full word for the month) in the Biography.
- Dates should be as precise as possible. If you are unable to confirm an exact date an estimate is acceptable with an explanation in the biography.
- Until 1751 in England, the year began on 25 March (Lady Day). This is referred to as Old style or OS.
- From 1752 the year began on 1 January. This is referred to as New Style or NS. (1751 was a short year).
- Pre-1752, the period between 1 January and 24 March is shown in the biography as a combination of the two years. Thus 20 February 1664 OS will be 20 February 1665 NS. It is written as 20 February 1664/5.
- Pre-1752 dates 1 January to 24 March as entered in the date fields as the later year (20 February 1665 in the example above).
- Note that Scotland had already changed to the New Year starting 1 January in 1600.
- The change from the Julian to Gregorian calendar also occurred in England in 1752. Wednesday 2 September 1752 was followed by Thursday 14 September 1752. The eleven days in between did not exist. No adjustment should be made in the modern Gregorian calendar for the days lost in the changeover from the Julian calendar.
- More about these changes in the English calendar can be found here.
- All English profiles must contain the word England (where appropriate) in the birth, marriage and death locations.
- Places of birth and death are entered in the location data fields in this order (smallest geographical unit to largest):
- Village or town, county, England
- District of a city, city, county, England
- The word "county" is not used when naming a county ("Essex" is just "Essex", not "Essex County"). The only exception to this rule is "County Durham" which should always be entered as such, and not just "Durham" which is a city within County Durham.
- The United Kingdom did not become an entity until 1801. Do not use United Kingdom in an English location before this date. Spell out United Kingdom in full. United Kingdom is in addition to England and does not replace it:
- Village or town, county, England, United Kingdom
- Street addresses are not entered, but may be noted in the biography.
- Postal codes are not used.
- Religious parishes are not used as part of the location UNLESS it was a recognised district of a town or city.
- Locations of marriage: the name of the church is acceptable before the other location data.
- Wales is a country in its own right and not part of England.
- Where the most precise location for an event is a Registration District (for post-1837 events), which may contain several towns and/or villages, the Registration District may be included in the location. The biography should make it clear that the location refers to the Registration District, rather than a village or town (which may have the same name).
- Where the most precise location for a birth or death is a baptism or burial in a parish, (which may contain several towns and/or villages), the parish may be included in the location. The biography should make it clear that the location refers to the name of the parish, rather than a village or town (which may have the same name). Be aware that a baptism or burial record does not confirm that the birth or death occurred in that parish, so the location should be marked as "Uncertain". Record the location as "Place" rather than "Parish of Place" or "Place parish".
- Hundreds and wapentakes are ancient administrative divisions of counties. They are not included in the location fields, and only in the biographies of pre-1500 profiles where indicated.
- Place names beginning with "St" (e.g. St Ives) are abbreviated (rather than spelled out in full "Saint") and do not have a full stop after the "St"
- There are 39 historic counties in England plus the City Of London. Further details of historic names and subunits are in Vision of Britain. Use these historic counties rather than modern Unitary Authorities.
- Do not abbreviate the county name in the location fields. The county name abbreviations are given for information only in the table below.
- Widespread changes to the names and boundaries of the historic counties happened in 1974 as a result of the 1972 Local Government Act. These are noted in the table below.
|County Name (use this on WikiTree)||Notes - do not use abbreviations on Wikitree|
|Bedfordshire||Abbreviation is Beds. - abbreviation not used on Wikitree|
|Berkshire||Pronounced 'Barkshire'. Abbreviated to Berks. Ancient county name is Berceria. Neither style is used in Wikitree locations.|
|Buckinghamshire||Abbreviated to Bucks. - abbreviation not used on Wikitree|
|Cambridgeshire||Abbreviated to Cambs. Ancient name is Cantabrigia from which we get Cantab for degrees awarded at Cambridge University. Neither style is used in Wikitree locations.|
|Cheshire||The ancient name was Cestria - this name is not used in Wikitree locations.|
|Cornwall||Ancient names are "West Wales" (Ancient "North Wales" is the modern country of Wales), Cornugallia, Cornubia and Kernow. None of these names are used in Wikitree locations.|
|County Durham||Note the use of County in the full name, the only County in England to do this. Use the full name rather than just "Durham". An ancient name is Dunelmensis Episcopatus (the Bishopric of Durham).|
|Cumberland||Abolished and became part of the newly created county of Cumbria in 1974|
|Devon||Sometimes referred to as Devonshire - this name is not used in Wikitree locations.|
|Derbyshire||Abbreviated to Derbys.|
|Dorset||Sometimes referred to as Dorsetshire - this name is not used in Wikitree locations.|
|Essex||Literally the Land of the East Saxons. The South-West part of the historic county was lost to the London County Council and Greater London.|
|Gloucestershire||Pronounced 'Gloster'. Abbreviated to Gloucs.|
|Hampshire||Abbreviated to Hants. Sometimes referred to as Southamptonshire - this name is not used in Wikitree locations. Hampshire includes the Isle of Wight.|
|Herefordshire||Amalgamated with Worcestershire in 1974. Re-established as a separate county in 1998.|
|Hertfordshire||Pronounced 'Hartfordshire'. Abbreviated to Herts.|
|Huntingdonshire||Merged into Cambridgeshire in 1974|
|Kent||Ancient name is Cantiu - this name is not used in Wikitree locations.|
|Lancashire||Abbreviated to Lancs.|
|Leicestershire||Pronounced Lestershire. Abbreviated to Leics.|
|Lincolnshire||Abbreviated to Lincs.|
|London (City of)||Not the same as the County of London or Greater London (see below)|
|Middlesex||Literally the Land of the Middle Saxons. This county used to encircle the City of London on the North of the Thames. Gradually absorbed into the expanding London conurbation. Abolished as an entity in 1965 with the creation of Greater London.|
|Northamptonshire||Abbreviated to Northants.|
|Nottinghamshire||Abbreviated to Notts.|
|Oxfordshire||Abbreviated to Oxon. from the ancient name of Oxonium, Neither style used in Wikitree locations.|
|Rutland||The smallest English county. Temporarily abolished as a county 1974-1997 during which time it was absorbed into Leicestershire.|
|Shropshire||Also known archaically as Salop - this name is not used in Wikitree locations.|
|Somerset||Sometimes referred to as Somersetshire - this name is not used in Wikitree locations.|
|Staffordshire||Abbreviated to Staffs. Extensive reorganisation of its boundaries in 1974.|
|Surrey||Lost its historic northern area to both the County of London and Greater London.|
|Sussex||Divided administratively into East Sussex and West Sussex in 1974. Use Sussex as the county name.|
|Warwickshire||Pronounced "Worrick-sheer" Abbreviated to Warks.|
|Westmoreland||Abolished as a county in 1974, absorbed into the newly created county of Cumbria.|
|Wiltshire||Abbreviated to Wilts. The ancient name is Wilton - this name is not used in Wikitree locations.|
|Worcestershire||Pronounced "Wuster-sheer". Abbreviated to Worcs. In 1974 split into the new West Midlands county and the rest amalgamated with Herefordshire. Was re-established as a separate county in 1998. The ancient name is Wigornia - this name is not used in Wikitree locations.|
|Yorkshire||Historically divided into the North, East and West Ridings. The Ridings were abolished in 1974. The Roman name for the city of York was Eboracum - some old text refer to Yorkshire as the county of Eboracum, abbreviated to Ebor. - this name is not used in Wikitree locations.|
- The City of London (established in Roman times) is a different entity to the County of London managed by the London County Council (LCC), and different again to Greater London. The London County Council was established as a Unitary Authority in 1889 and surrounded the old City of London on the North and South sides of the River Thames, absorbing parts of Kent, Surrey and Middlesex. The LCC was replaced by the more extensive Greater London Council in 1965, which involved the absorption of the remainder of Middlesex.
- London is never referred to as "London Town".
- Categories for English place names are described on this page. If the place does not yet have a category, ask for one to be created. We do not intentionally create empty categories.
- The biography should be relevant to the profile, using inline sourcing to clearly identify the facts presented, and written in the third person.
- Do not add speculation or your own personal views to the Biography. These can be written in a Research Notes section.
- The biography should be written in chronological order unless this would upset the description of a certain passage of events in that person's life.
- Use the Past tense (He married in 1940) rather than the Historical Present (He marries in 1940)
- The use of the term "died" is preferred for end of life except if there is a more specific term for the cause of death (killed in action, drowned, executed, etc.)
- Add interest to the narrative by adding first hand contemporary descriptions of actions or attributes (with sources), but do not speculate or embellish.
- Use subheadings as waymarkers for important events.
- If a lengthy passage of descriptive text is required (for example, the transcript of a Will) use a linked free space page for that text with a brief summary in the biography.
- Blocks of text should not be copied to a profile from any websites. See the help pages for copying text and copying from Wikipedia.
- If the information in the biography would be better presented in a list or table (static or sortable), Wikitree help pages provide examples of formatting lists and tables. If you already have the data in a spreadsheet there are numerous online Excel to wiki converters.
- Citations (inline references) and Sources should be formatted according to Wikitree guidelines.
- Inline citations are preferred.
- A long string URL may be shortened by using: ["URL" space "text to display"]
- for example [https://books.google.com.au/books?id=sXFwOjmRCoAC Flora of Suffolk] will appear as Flora of Suffolk.
- A research note section may be used explain issues encountered in the research process. This could include conflicting information, erroneous information published elsewhere and to document where information was not found.
- Sign and date any research notes with four tildes ~~~ so that others can see who added the notes and when.
- Images must be relevant to the person being profiled. A head and neck portrait of that person is preferred as the primary image.
- Images must not infringe copyright. Consult this page for image collections which have given Wikitree permission to use their images.
- Be sparing with background images.
- Works consulted and relevant to the profile but not used in inline referencing may be listed in a 'See Also' section after the references tag. They should appear in alphabetical order by author/creator and in a bullet list.
- If the profile subject is an author, you may wish to list either some or all of their publications. A suggested format is a bulleted list of the title giving author, title, year with inline references to the full bibliographic citation, and online access if available.
These pages contain links to resources that may be of help in researching an English profile:
- England County resources
- England Project Reliable Sources
- England Research Resources: General
- Sources - England
- Wikitree pre1500 Resources
- Medieval Genealogy Resources
- Do not use unsourced family trees (Ancestry, Geni, My Heritage, Familysearch trees).
- If the tree quotes a valid source, cite the valid source not the tree.
- Find A Grave entries without a gravestone photo are not considered valid sources.
Examples of Profiles
The following profiles may be useful as a guide to developing a profile.
Margaret (More) Roper
Dorothy L Sayers
- Login to request to the join the Trusted List so that you can edit and add images.
- Private Messages: Contact the Profile Managers privately: Jo Fitz-Henry and England Project WikiTree. (Best when privacy is an issue.)
- Public Comments: Login to post. (Best for messages specifically directed to those editing this profile. Limit 20 per day.)
- Public Q&A: These will appear above and in the Genealogist-to-Genealogist (G2G) Forum. (Best for anything directed to the wider genealogy community.)