Follow your kin to the far reaches of England’s empire with our pointers for researching British roots in South Africa.
From the early 1600s until well into the 1900s, Great Britain reigned over a worldwide empire, stretching from Asia to the Americas to Africa. Maritime trade, colonization and conquest made the crown (and many of its privileged subjects) enormously wealthy and powerful. At its height, the British Empire ruled a quarter of the world.
Millions of subjects of the crown shipped off to far-flung areas of the empire. Some sought better fortunes abroad; even more went under the employ of the government. Others were forcibly exiled in penal colonies.
You may discover ties to these "empire emigrants" in your own family tree -- an ancestor’s sibling who went to the Cape of Africa with a British army regiment, or a cousin who was shipped to Tasmania in chains. Start uncovering those connections with our guide to genealogical research in South Africa.