How do you trace ancestors from Gibraltar?

By Guest, 6 June 2018 - 9:54am

We explain how to trace your Gibraltarian ancestors like Michelle Keegan

The Old Mole in Gibraltar in 1899
View of the Old Mole in Gibraltar Harbour, April 1899 (Credit: The Montifraulo Collection/ Getty)

Gibraltar has been a British Overseas Territory since 1713, and was an important naval base during the Second World War.

On her episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, Michelle Keegan discovered that her ancestry reflects the island's diverse history - her great grandmother Leonor Orfila was a Catholic Gibraltan woman of Italian descent who married a British Protestant, Charles Stuart Wiltshire, despite the difference in their religions. The family then fled to Britain when Gibraltar was evacuated during the Second World War.

Below, we pick the best online resources for tracing ancestors who lived on the island. Bear in mind, however, that these are mainly civilian records. Censuses were taken of the civilian population, but not of those connected to the military garrison. You can read our general guide to military ancestors here.


Gibraltar National Archives
New online material is constantly being added. Of note are the censuses from 1704 (which gives the names of those inhabitants who stayed after Gibraltar capitulated to Anglo-Dutch forces during the War of the Spanish Succession) right through to 1914. Original documents have been digitised for the 1777, 1791, 1814 and 1816 censuses, which saves relying on transcriptions. The website also has some useful search features, such as surnames of 1777-1791  and records of those evacuated during the Second World War.


The Gibraltar Explorer
Devised by Dr Larry Sawchuk, this website enables the censuses of 1777, 1791 and 1878 to be searched. It also has other resources, such as Gibraltar's streets.


St Mary the Crowned Church (later the cathedral)
Searchable database of Roman Catholic births and baptisms from 1704 to 1876, derived from the records of what was often called the 'Spanish church' (in Main Street, Gibraltar).


King's Chapel

King's Chapel Gibraltar
King's Chapel is the principal church for the Armed Forces in Gibraltar (Credit: Education Images/ UIG via Getty)

Early records of Protestant baptisms, marriages and burials, civilian and military, are held at the King's Chapel, Main Street, Gibraltar. Records are not available online.


Gibraltar Heritage Trust
The main heritage body in Gibraltar publishes an annual Gibraltar Heritage Journal, containing original research on Gibraltar. It is also a place for recording and publishing family histories and personal stories. Individual volumes of the journal can be purchased online and some individual articles can be bought and downloaded here.


Gibraltar Garrison Library
Founded in 1793, this library is the hub of Gibraltar research and a place to visit if you need to consult all sorts of sources, including the Gibraltar Chronicle (not yet available online).


Bordering on Britishness
This oral history project captured memories from all walks of life in Gibraltar and offers a first-hand account of 20th-century life on the Rock, including the evacuation.



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WDYTYA? location guide: Michelle Keegan
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WDYTYA? location guide: Michelle Keegan
previous blog Article
Finding suffragettes in the 1911 census
next blog Article
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