England Project - English Profile Standards

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Related pages: | The England Project Managed Profiles Page | The England Project Managed Profiles Team

This page was last revised in May 2022: sections added on the use of the Aristocracy sticker, and on the use of Great Britain in location fields.


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.

Prefix field

  • 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. (see "Suffix Field" below).
  • 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.

Suffix field

  • 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.
  • Do not use the word Knight as a suffix when a man held that title. The word Knight is used after a man's name in legal documents. If a knight has an Award of Chivalry, the letters denoting the Award of Chivalry goes in the suffix field. [1]
  • 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 when using the name fields. 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). [1]


  • 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
    • or
    • 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.
  • Great Britain did not become an entity until 1707, and from 1801, it was superseded by the United Kingdom. Do not use Great Britain in an English location before 1707 or from 1801. Spell out Great Britain in full. Great Britain is in addition to England and does not replace it:
    • Village or town, county, England, Great Britain
  • 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
  • It is not a requirement to add Great Britain or United Kingdom after England in their respective time periods.
  • 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.
  • Shire or not? A county name has the suffix shire if the county is named after the Historic County town (which may be different to the modern administrative centre). These old county town names are usually obvious in the county name and are given in the table below
County Name (use this in WikiTree location fields)Notes - do not use the County Name abbreviations in the location fields
Bedfordshire Named after the town of Bedford. Abbreviation is Beds.
BerkshirePronounced 'Barkshire'. The exception to the rule about Shire names, Berkshire was named after a woody hill rather than a town, and the Ancient county name was Berceria. The county town was originally Abingdon, and from 1867 Reading. Abbreviation is Berks.
BuckinghamshireNamed after the old county town of Buckingham. Abbreviation is Bucks.
CambridgeshireNamed after the county town Cambridge. 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.
CheshireNamed after the county town Chester. The ancient name was Cestria - this name is not used in Wikitree locations.
CornwallAncient 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 DurhamNote 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).
CumberlandAbolished and became part of the newly created county of Cumbria in 1974
DevonDevon is the official county name. Use this in the location fields. It is sometimes referred to as Devonshire (used as the name of a Dukedom and a Regimental name).
DerbyshireNamed after the old county town Derby (modern county town is Matlock). Abbreviated to Derbys.
DorsetDorset is the official county name. Use this in the location fields. Sometimes referred to as Dorsetshire.
EssexLiterally the Land of the East Saxons. The South-West part of the historic county was lost to the Count of London and subsequently Greater London.
GloucestershireNamed after the county town Gloucester. Pronounced 'Gloster'. Abbreviated to Gloucs.
HampshireNamed after the town Southampton which historically was known as Hamptun. Abbreviated to Hants. Sometimes referred to as Southamptonshire - this name is not used in Wikitree locations. Hampshire included the Isle of Wight until it was made a ceremonial county in its own right in 1974.
HerefordshireNamed after the county town Hereford. Amalgamated with Worcestershire in 1974. Re-established as a separate county in 1998.
HertfordshireNamed after the county town of Hertford. Pronounced 'Hartfordshire'. Abbreviated to Herts.
HuntingdonshireNamed after the county town Huntingdon. Merged into Cambridgeshire in 1974. Abbreviated to Hunts.
KentAncient name is Cantiu - this name is not used in Wikitree locations.
LancashireNamed after the city of Lancaster. Abbreviated to Lancs.
LeicestershireNamed after the town of Leicester. Pronounced Lestershire. Abbreviated to Leics.
LincolnshireNamed after the city of Lincoln. Abbreviated to Lincs.
London The City of London was a self governing City without a County or a Shire. it is not the same as the County of London or Greater London (see below)
MiddlesexLiterally 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.
NorfolkLiterally the "North Folk" of East Anglia
Northamptonshire Named after the town of Northampton. Abbreviated to Northants.
NorthumberlandLiterally the Land North of the River Humber.
NottinghamshireNamed after the town of Nottingham. Abbreviated to Notts.
OxfordshireNamed after the city of Oxford. Abbreviated to Oxon. from the ancient name of Oxonium, Neither style used in Wikitree locations.
RutlandThe smallest English county. Temporarily abolished as a county 1974-1997 during which time it was absorbed into Leicestershire.
ShropshireA modern spelling and pronunciation of the Old English for Shrewsburyshire after the county town Shrewsbury. The county is known archaically as Salop - this name is not used in Wikitree locations.
SomersetSomerset is the official county name, Use this in the location fields. Sometimes referred to as Somersetshire.
StaffordshireNamed after the town of Stafford. Abbreviated to Staffs. Extensive reorganisation of its boundaries in 1974.
SuffolkLiterally the "South Folk" of East Anglia
Surrey Lost its historic northern area to both the County of London and Greater London.
SussexDivided administratively into East Sussex and West Sussex in 1974. Use Sussex as the county name.
WarwickshireNamed after the town of Warwick. Pronounced "Worrick-sheer" Abbreviated to Warks.
WestmorlandAbolished as a county in 1974, absorbed into the newly created county of Cumbria. In 2023, it is due to be re-established but with different boundaries.
WiltshireNamed after the old county town of Wilton (the modern county town is Trowbridge). Abbreviated to Wilts.
WorcestershireNamed after the old county town of Worcester. 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.
YorkshireNamed after the city of York. 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. This is a guide to creating and using them.
  • A long string URL may be shortened by using: ["URL" space "text to display"]
    • for example [ Flora of Suffolk] will appear as Flora of Suffolk.

Research Notes

  • 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.

"See Also"

  • 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. If "See Also" is used as a heading, it is capitalised, if part of the text, in sentence case. The works referenced 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:

  • 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.


Use sparingly, and only when relevant.

Use of the term Aristocracy (and therefore the sticker) on English profiles.

  • England (as a standalone country, as part of Great Britain, and as part of the United Kingdom) has Royalty and a Peerage.
  • Royalty comprises:
    • the Monarch and their spouse.
    • Princes: the male children and grandchildren of the reigning and past monarchs. Children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales.
    • Princesses - legitimate daughters of a British Monarch, and legitimate male line granddaughters of a British Monarch.
    • Children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales.
    • Spouse of a British Prince.
    • The Peerage comprises Dukes, Earls, Marquesses, Viscounts, Barons.
  • The sticker {{EuroAristo Sticker|place=British Isles}} should only be used on profiles of people with the titles listed above, and only if the Profile Manager wishes them to be on the profile.
  • Baronets are not part of the Peerage. The Aristocracy sticker should not be used on these profiles.
  • Life Peerages (created after 1958) are political appointments. The Aristocracy sticker should not be used on these profiles.
  • The sticker should not be used for knights and local dignitaries.

Examples of Profiles

The following profiles may be useful as a guide to developing a profile.
Geoffrey Chaucer
John Elrington
Dick Whittington,
16 Century
Margaret (More) Roper
John Dudley
17 Century
Samuel Pepys
Christopher Wren
18 Century
John Constable
Thomas Elrington
Mary Wollstonecraft
19 Century
Charles Darwin
Virginia Woolf
JRR Tolkien
20 Century
Dorothy L Sayers


  1. 1.0 1.1 Knight: Title and forms of address from Debrett's Etiquette online Archived version on Internet archive from 16 March 2015 Accessed 24 October 2021

Images: 1
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Comments: 23

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Is it possible to get the comment added into the location standards that Great Britain should not be used on profiles? I'm still seeing suggestions being raised to correct this from England, Great Britain to England but there are a few people who insist this is valid and add it back into the profile after it has been removed. Either the standards should mention this so we can point to them to explain why not to use it, or the suggestion should be changed so that Great Britain does not raise as an error.


posted on England Project - Profile Standards (merged) by Sarah Long
The links to the pages from Debrett's showing the correct used of Titles and Styles have now been updated. Debrett's is now a subscription site. The relevant pages are those archived on the WayBack Machine from Internet Archive.

Edit - it is the links which have been updated, not the information pages themselves.

posted on England Project - Profile Standards (merged) by Jo Fitz-Henry
edited by Jo Fitz-Henry
Regarding Devon vs Devonshire, it might help if the wording in the 2nd column were changed slightly to make it even more clear that Devonshire is not to be used. As it is now, I am left wondering whether Devon should also not be used.
posted on England Project - Profile Standards (merged) by S (Hill) Willson
Can someone please add a statement to the standard that Great Britain/GB should not be used on English profiles and that only the country should be captured on profiles prior to 1801? I still get people asking why it is being removed from profiles so capturing it here would be very useful as we could then point people to the standard to validate.


posted on England Project - Profile Standards (merged) by Sarah Long
Strictly speaking, the name of the country between 1707 and 1801 was Great Britain, so if we're going to use United Kingdom from 1801 we should be using Great Britain for the century before then for consistency. Not that I'm advocating either - England alone should suffice for all time periods. As far as I am aware, United Kingdom was not commonly used as a name for the country until after Irish independence in 1922.
posted on England Project - Profile Standards (merged) by Stephen Heathcote
edited by Stephen Heathcote
Sorry the comment was not meant to restart the debate that has been had a few times on G2G. It was simply a reminder that the agreed practice still needs to be reflected in the standards on this page
posted on England Project - Profile Standards (merged) by Sarah Long
edited by Sarah Long