Search Guidance Notes

Using the Advanced Search Form

Click on the tab Search the database to use the form to search for individuals, addresses and claims.

We have produced a short video (just under 9 minutes) to help use the advanced search form to search for people here

Using the Estates Search Form

If you want to search the Estates pages please click here for Estates Search Guidance Notes.

Notes on using the advanced search form

We have tried to make searching this encyclopaedia as straightforward as possible. We hope these notes will help you to find what you are looking for.

In general, enter all or any part of the search term though finding the data is quickest if you can supply as much information as possible for the search you are undertaking. For example, if you are looking for a person entering Ander as a surname will find Anderdon as well as Anderson.

Search terms must be at least three characters long. You can include the wildcard % in the middle of text, for example searching for m%k%y will return the surnames Mackay, Mackey and McKay. This way of searching will produce extra hits not relevant to you, but is particularly useful for picking up spelling variants in surnames.

You can also narrow the search by combining search terms. Entering Anderdon as a surname together with James as a first name will find only James Hughes Anderdon.

If you are not looking for a particular person but, for instance, a place or everybody who was educated at a particular school, then just enter the terms in the appropriate boxes.

More specific notes are below.

Surname, First Name(s)

Enter as much of the name(s) as you know, starting with the first three letters of the name.


In some cases we cannot be certain whether someone is male or female. This is usually because the first name is an initial only.

Individual Type and categories of claimant

The database includes slave-owners but also beneficiaries and agents acting for owners. Not everyone in the database is a slave-owner.

These types cover quite a number of different kinds of relationships to the enslaved people in the awarded claim. To understand these categories fully, you should read Understanding the individuals in the Encyclopaedia.

The database also includes some individuals who were not claimants but are in because, for example, they were related to people who were.

Keyword/Notes Search

Here you can search through all the notes on claims or biographical notes on individuals. The search also includes any details in the 'Wills' section of a person's biography. (Many of these can be found by entering either PROB11 or PROB 11 [with a space] in the Notes Search box.) But a search based simply on this can produce many results: using this combined with criteria entered in another search field can often be more helpful. You may also find it helpful to search the sources used.


Here you can search by street, town or city, county, region or country.

The Quick Address Search box enables a search by any part of the address – street, town/city, county, region, or country. However, try to be as specific as possible. For example, entering London will bring up more than 2,700 records. On the other hand, entering Cambridge will bring up not only those living in Cambridge (the town) but also Cambridgeshire, or any street including the word such as 45 Cambridge Terrace, Hyde Park, London. Use the other address search boxes instead to refine your search. As with other searches, you may have to experiment a little. For instance, if you are looking for those living in or close to Portland Place, London, Portland may be classified as a Street or, in some instances, as a District.

For the regions which addresses have been classified into see regions.

Claim Number

Every claim was given a number by the Compensation Commission (such as Barbados 100 or Jamaica, Kingston parish, 100). If you know the colony name, parish (in the case of Jamaica) and the claim number, this will find the record.


In some cases these categorisations are used in the original records; in other cases they have been assigned to people by us on the basis of further biographical research.


Like Occupation, classifying people as Resident or Absent is a matter of historical judgement. But individuals may have moved between Britain and the Caribbean (and elsewhere) so that classifying someone as absent (or resident in the Caribbean) may be uncertain in some cases.

Searching numbers (Between... And... )

If you are searching Wealth at Death, Amount of compensation, Number of enslaved you enter the range. For example, under Number of enslaved enter Between 10 And 20. But note that this will find every case where the number of the enslaved was in the range 11-19. So if you want to find all those where there were 10 up to and including 20 enslaved then enter the range as Between 9 And 21.

Searching the legacy strands

You can also browse and search the legacy strands. When you go to one of the strands under Browse the Legacies, you will see a box for searching by a person's name and you can also narrow the search by selecting one or all of the items listed underneath the search box.

For example, under commercial legacies you will see Partnership Roles, Company Roles, Firm Investments, Railway Investments, General Investments, with a tick box next to each. So if you are looking for only those who had Railway Investments, untick all the other boxes, leave the name search box empty and select Update Records.