Searching The Gazette: hints and tips

There are millions of notices in The Gazette, each one a valuable record of British history. We want to help you to find exactly what you’re looking for, so here are some tips from our search experts.

Do...

  • Use the ‘All notices’ section to begin your search journey.
  • Ensure that names are spelled correctly.
  • Select the correct date range – the narrower the date range, the more targeted the results.
  • Try keywords without ticking the notice type selections first – if a free text and date range search brings back too many results, you can use the check boxes to filter them down. (Please note: the check boxes on the filter menu only search notices that were published post-1998. If you are looking for notices prior to this period, or notices that may have appeared in a supplement, use the text search only).

Don't...

  • Forget to clear your text box and categories if you want to make another search.
  • Use commas or symbols, for example ‘&’ or ‘*’ – quote marks (““) are fine, but only for exact match searches.
  • Forget you can search PDFs using CTRL+F (if you use a Chrome browser) or by clicking ‘find’ at the top of your webpage (if you use Internet Explorer or Firefox).

Now you’re ready to search, here are some more detailed tips:

Searching for politicians and Acts of Parliament

  • Capitalise specific acts – for example, Defence of the Realm Act.
  • Use the full date range for that year, for example from 01/01/1914 to 31/12/1914.
  • If you’re searching for an election, try to use their constituency seat – for example, ‘Margaret Thatcher Finchley’ returns all parliamentary victories.
  • When looking for appointments under a certain act, write it out in full, including the date – for example, ‘Winston Churchill Explosives Act 1875’ brings up a key Irish appointment from 1910.

Searching for wars and battles

When searching for wars and battles, remember that:

  • The further you go back in time, the longer the delay in the battle being gazetted. The Battle of Trafalgar occurred on 21 October 1805, but it doesn’t appear until 6 November.
  • Countries may have had different names from the names they use today – for example, prior to 1871, Germany is often referred to as Prussia, and the Netherlands is often referred to as the United Provinces, or the Batavian Republic.

Searching for soldiers, promotions and medals

  • Your success when searching for a soldier using keywords depends on the style used to gazette them at the time – often, no first name is used, just the initial and the soldier’s surname.
  • Sometimes, due to column width, a name will run over two lines and will be hyphenated, making it harder to find, so you may need to try searching by edition or date of publication instead.
  • Try to give more detail in the text box:

    - medal awarded: typing ‘Jacka Victoria Cross’ into the search box returns Albert Jacka’s VC awarded in 1915

    - regiment or service number: for example, typing ‘Chenery Royal Regiment of Artillery’ into the search box returns his mention in 1946 – you’ll find the same result by typing ‘148436 Chenery’

    - use their citation: there are a number of websites that provide information about servicemen, including the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. For example, Charles Yate’s entry contains his citation. By typing ‘led his nineteen survivors against the enemy’ into the search box, it returns his Victoria Cross entry

Searching for Queen’s honours

  • The Queen announces a New Year Honours list at the end of each year, so if someone was, for example, awarded an OBE or MBE in 2002, use the date range starting 2001, from 30/12/01 to 01/01/02.
  • If your result has not been returned, it could be that they were awarded their honour in the Queen’s Birthday honours list in June of that year (usually announced in the first two weeks of June) – so, if the award was made in 2002, change the dates selected to be from 01/06/02 to 20/06/02.
  • For both New Year and Birthday honours, if you know what it was they were awarded their honour for, use the keywords ‘for services to’ – for example,  if you type ‘Norman Jay for services to music’, it will return the June 2002 supplement, which was printed on 15 June.
  • We cannot confirm that knighthoods other than those invested directly by the sovereign were gazetted pre-1922; for Irish Knighthoods, you may wish to consult the Dublin Gazette archives (online for the period 1750-1800, with editions from 1800-1922 available to view in person at the National Library of Ireland), and for all others pre-1906, William Shaw’s 'Knights of England' is considered to be the authoritative text.

Searching for insolvency

  • If searching for an insolvent person, start by ticking ‘show none’ under corporate insolvency.
  • In the search box, type in their surname and their location to return the best results.
  • When searching for an insolvent business, make sure that ‘show all’ is selected under corporate insolvency.
  • In the search box, type in the business name, together with its location to return the best results – for example, ‘Leeds United’ will return results for companies in Leeds, United Kingdom. ‘Leeds United Elland Road’ will return 4 key results for the football club.

Searching for wills and probate

  • Searching for a deceased estate notice requires the exact match spelling of their name – ‘Will Cartwright’ won’t return the results for ‘William Cartwright’.
  • Filtering these results down by using date of death can help you find the right William.
  • Don’t forget to use location too, as this can mean the difference between William Cartwright in Buckinghamshire, and William Cartwright in the Wirral.

Gazette index searches

The index search functionality is probably the most useful way of narrowing down Gazette information within a reasonably small timeframe. With that in mind, we’ve now made the index search easier.

Just go to Publications, and under ‘Search the archives - Indexes’, select the edition (London, Edinburgh or Belfast), year and issue number (1-4).

London Gazette index searches start from 1829. Note that volumes were published quarterly from 1903 onwards; for pre-1903 volumes, it will be only 1 or 2, as they were then produced biannually.

Bear in mind that Edinburgh and Belfast Gazettes only publish an annual index, which is searchable from 2002.

Index searches return the year, quarter and page number for a particular notice of interest, and allow you to establish whether a name, event or medal awarded happened within a three-month timeframe (or indeed, didn’t happen).

Search The Gazette indexes

Missing Gazette notices

If you're having trouble with your search, the issue you're looking for may not have been digitised. Check the Missing Gazettes page for a list of all those that are missing, by issue number and date range.