FindMyPast is owned by Scottish-based publishing company D.C. Thomson, who purchased the genealogy website in 2007 from the Title Research Group.
DC Thomson has a long history in newspapers and comics publishing. The company also owns the British Newspaper Archives website and Genes Reunited.
What Is Find My Past?
FindMyPast is the brand name for a set of genealogy websites with a growing archive of free and subscription record collections.
There are separate websites for different countries e.g. FindMyPast.co.uk and FindMyPast.ie.
Most of the company’s customers are researching their family trees. The record collections are particularly useful to people of British and Irish heritage.
The company’s main competitors are websites like Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, and MyHeritage.com.
Who Founded FindMyPast?
The company didn’t originally start with providing services for genealogy hobbyists.
Instead, it was set up to focus on probate research. This includes tasks like finding beneficiaries after the reading of a will.
Title Research Group
A group of probate solicitors and genealogists created a firm named the Title Research Group back in 1965.
Tom Curran headed the company. His son succeeded him in the 1990s.
The firm provided services to solicitors working on wills and estate administration.
The staff spent most of their time at British government offices where they would leaf through birth, marriage, and death certificates.
This was before these documents were available in digital format.
The heads of the company knew that they would greatly increase efficiency and lower costs if they could digitize the records they had to search through.
Their efforts started in 2001. They embarked on a project to create a digitized archive of BMD records (birth, marriage, and death) across the United Kingdom.
The Curran family were entrepreneurs at heart. They saw beyond the limits of supporting the company’s own probate research services.
In 2003, the company made the digital records available on a commercial website. Access was through a paid subscription.
The domain name the company chose was 1837online.com. Don’t go looking this up as it’s no longer in use!
They launched a paid subscription website in 2003 with a domain name of 1837online.com (it’s no longer available).
1837 refers to the year that the civil administration in England and Wales began to record and archive the births, marriages, and deaths in those two regions.
Digitizing the census
However, the name soon became too specific as the digital efforts grew.
It wasn’t so much the year that was the problem, it was the focus on BMD (birth, marriages, and deaths).
There was a clamor for census records, and the company started with the 1861 census. Soon, the website also included this census collection.
But now the domain was a little misleading!
In 2006, the company overhauled the website with a new look, a new brand, and a new domain name.
The first FindMyPast website was FindMyPast.co.uk.
Brief History Of D.C. Thomson, Owners Of FindMyPast
The firm of D.C. Thomson has a lot of history! Its origins date back to the late 19th century.
The company didn’t start as a publishing house. Instead, the founder William Thomsom was a Scottish shipping magnate.
He married Margaret Couper and the couple had several sons who joined the family firm.
Thomson’s company bought its first newspaper in 1886. This was the Dundee Courier, a newspaper based in a coastal town in the rugged northeast of Scotland. This was the first of several newspaper purchases.
One of Thomson’s sons was named David. His middle name came from his mother’s family name, Couper. In 1905, this son established a separate newspaper publishing company.
He used his initials to call the company D.C. Thomson.
From newspapers to comics
D.C. Thomson remained a family company as subsequent generations joined the firm.
One family member, Harold, was a nephew of David Couper. It was Harold who make the company the market leader in comic publishing in the United Kingdom.
The D.C. Thomson stable included such stalwarts as the Beano, the Dandy, Bunty, and Mandy. There are few British and Irish people of a certain age who won’t remember this mischievous character:
D.C. Thomson and Genealogy
Part of D.C. Thomsons operations included a technical department in Dundee that was developing the company’s online newspaper archive.
They spun this off as a subsidiary called Brighsolid Online Publishing. This part of the business would go on to partner with the British Library to produce a new newspaper archive site. You can read more in our article on the British Newspaper Archive.
Meanwhile, the company had spotted a growing market of genealogy enthusiasts with a thirst for online access to historical records.
D.C. Thomson purchased the FindMyPast website from the Title Research Group in 2007.
This wasn’t their only genealogy service. Their brands also included Genes Reunited and Scotlands People.
By 2013, the company separated the technology department (e.g. digital archiving and storage) from the genealogy business. They spun out a new business named D.C. Family History.
But the FindMyPast website had a surge in popularity, and the company didn’t want to confuse its customers.
So, they rebranded the subsidiary as Find My Past.
What’s The Relationship Between Find My Past and the British Newspaper Archive?
The relationship between these two brands is that they are both owned by the same parent company.
The two subsidiaries have separate management and operating teams. And they operate separate websites: FindMyPast.co.uk and BritishNewspaperArchive.co.uk.
However, you can access the newspaper archive with a membership of either website.
Check out our review of the British Newspaper Archive membership site.
Is FindMyPast A Mormon Company?
This question pops up occasionally, and the answer is no. FindMyPast is not a Mormon company and is not affiliated with the Church Of Latter-day Saints.
The original founders were in England and the website is currently owned by a Scottish company. These are not Mormon strongholds (of course, there are Mormon communities in England and Scotland).
The question may arise from the mistaken assumption that FindMyPast is owned by FamilySearch.org, which is a Mormon-owned organization.
FindMyPast collaborates with FamilySearch (as well as many other genealogy services).
Many members of the Mormon community are keen genealogists and have special membership with FamilySearch.org through church accounts. This can facilitate free access to FindMyPast records.