Non-Jewish records

This guide was last updated in 2011

The first clue that an ancestor was Jewish often comes from a vital record document such as a marriage certificate.

For example, a certificate may say that a couple were married “according to the usage of the Jews”. If such a certificate can be found it will usually give the name of the Synagogue or Jewish community under whose auspices the marriage was conducted, and will therefore point to a set of records that should be researched.

Clues also often appear in census records. In England and Wales during the period 1841-1911, the census did not ask any specific questions about religion. However, there are often many clues such as their occupation (was it typical of the Jews of that period?), whether they were living in a neighbourhood with a high percentage of Jews and sometimes the inclusion by the enumerator of the word ‘Jew’ or ‘Jewish’.

Combined with research into an individual’s name (see Step 3) such clues are often sufficient to warrant searching Jewish records. A wide range of other sources including newspaper articles, military service records, naturalisation records, wills, Alien registrations and passenger records can often indicate that an individual was Jewish, although the degree of certainty will depend on the specific document and circumstances.


Sephardic Jewish ancestors
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