Sussex-Plus Mailing List Web Site


This page offers hints for genealogy research in Sussex. For definitions of abbreviations see the General page.
Draft Version.

Sussex is a coastal county in south-east England. Sussex contains over 400 parishes and is a wide county so is divided into East and West Sussex for administrative and research purposes. The main town on the south coast is Brighton and it was a magnet for people leaving the villages in the 19th century. Even before that Brighton was a cosmopolitan place and can be considered as the equivalent of a smaller version of London.

The East Sussex Record Office at Lewes is the place to find all parish registers and many other records relating to the parishes in the current (post 1974) county of East Sussex. One exception is that the Bishops Transcripts for the whole of Sussex are held at the West Sussex Record Office.

The East Sussex Record Office offers one very special facility which is of great benefit to anyone who is stuck with an 18th century ancestor. All the baptisms in all East Sussex parishes between 1700-1812 have been extracted and recorded on slips of paper. These slips are held in card index drawers in the downstairs foyer at the Record Office. They have been filmed by LDS and available for researching at their centres world-wide.

The West Sussex Record Office at Chichester is the place to find all parish registers and many other records relating to the parishes in the current (post 1974) county of West Sussex. In addition the WSRO holds BTs for the whole of Sussex.

The West Sussex Record Office has a set of the GRO birth, marriage and death indexes on microfiche. You must book in advance to access these.

The Sussex Family History Group is the main society for people researching their Sussex ancestry. SFHG offers the usual membership benefits of a quarterly magazine and the opportunity to register your research interests. The SFHG research interests setup is far superior to that of many other societies. In addition SFHG has copies of some census transcripts and other useful records available for sale on fiche. SFHG also operates a internet mailing list open to members only.

Sussex Hints

This section contains hints for using Parish Registers, Censuses and special hints for people with ancestors born at Brighton and/or registered in Steyning district.

Parish Registers

Not yet prepared.


Not yet prepared.

Brighton and Steyning BMD registrations

There are a few difficulties with researching family at Brighton as some of the references will be for Preston or Steyning. Here is an explanation.

The northern part of Brighton used to be in the parish of Preston until 1928. Some boundary changes did take place in 1873 and 1894 but full control was not assumed by Brighton until 1 Apr 1928 when 'Greater Brighton' was created. Until then the parish of Preston was in the district of Steyning and was effectively under the control of Hove. The registration district of Steyning thus includes a large part of Brighton in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The census returns for northern Brighton come under Steyning. This means that they are not included in the films for Brighton and have not been included in the 1851 census index for Brighton. (There is a current project by Eastbourne Family Roots to index Hove for 1851 - this should include Preston). People born in northern Brighton may describe themselves in the census returns as having been born at Brighton or at Preston.

If people born at 'Preston' were baptised this is much more likely to have taken place at Brighton than at Preston. Getting into the centre of Brighton would have been much easier than making the longer and more awkward journey north to the isolated church at Preston.

To add to the confusion the church at Preston is St Peter's and the main parish church at Brighton (from 1873) is also St Peter's. The church at Preston is a very small church dating back to 1250. St Peter's at Brighton is one of the largest in Brighton and was built in 1824-8. It was built to cater for the fast rising population as the ancient parish church of St Nicholas was much too small. St Peter's at Brighton does not have a graveyard, burials continued to be at St Nicholas until several cemeteries were established at Brighton from 1850 onwards.

The Preston church is sometimes referred to as little St Peter's and the Brighton church as big St Peter's. Preston church today is at the northern end of Preston Park which was originally part of Preston Manor. It's a small and pretty church but is no longer used for regular services.

Births, marriages and deaths occuring in the registration district of Steyning in the late 1800s are most likely to have been at Brighton or Hove. The registration district of Steyning contains over 20 parishes, one being the parish of Steyning. For the full list see:
Parishes in Steyning district

Finally, Preston should not be confused with East Preston. This was the registration district for the villages between Arundel and Worthing. It is also one of the parishes in the registration district. For the full list of parishes in the registration district of East Preston see:
Parishes in East Preston district

Other Sussex Links

UK and Ireland Information Service - Sussex
Sussex GenWeb
Sussex Look-up Exchange
PBN Publications - Transcripts of Sussex records
Sussex Photos - Churches and other buildings
Ringmer - Past and Present
Introduction General Kent Surrey Hampshire Isle of Wight