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I would like to build context for certain genealogical events I am researching, and one component - as dull as it may seem - is weather. For example, it would be interesting to know what the weather was like on the day my ancestors got married, or for my farmer ancestors when the long cold winters occurred.

What resources are available to determine the meteorological conditions in England on a certain date or season, particularly in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries? Obviously weather will vary by region - my focus is in the East Midlands. Resources about major weather events as well as mundane British summer showers (looking out the window now) are both useful.

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  • I just took a webinar yesterday about finding manuscript collections where the lecturer talked about finding a farmer's diary where he recorded something about the weather every day, followed by the other daily events in his life. I could write you an answer about how to use TNA's Discovery to find something like that, but I'd rather see a real answer from one of the three of you instead of having answers buried in the comments.
    – Jan Murphy
    Jul 22 '15 at 16:49
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Newspapers are the obvious source but thin out as one gets further back.

One resource that is clearly a labour of love, records Historical Weather Events in the UK, collected (it looks like) from a variety of sources.

However, note the warning on that screen that the site will disappear at some point. All is not lost, however, as it is one of those archived by the British Library. Go to the UK Web Archive and enter 'Booty Meteorological' in the search box (make sure there is no extraneous text - for whatever reason I seemed to fail dismally at that on several occasions - possibly too impatient to clear out the prompt). Follow the links on the resulting site for "Meteorology", then "Weather in History / Here".

However you get to the data, it's pot luck whether you find anything for your era and area, but I'm impressed with what's there.

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    Thank you for the link to this fascinating site. It seems most of the data is for the South/London, but it is very interesting all the same.
    – Harry V.
    Jul 22 '15 at 10:54
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Not a perfect answer, but the Met Office has made historical data available here as part of the OpenGov scheme.

It only goes back to 1853 so it doesn't cover your 17th-18th century criterion and some of the data is aggregated. However, it should be of some use.

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You could try seeking any diaries from your time and place of interest.

It is for a different hemisphere and different century but I am lucky enough to have an 1873 diary written by my 74 year old 3rd great grandfather, Thomas Hitchcox) in Adelaide (South Australia), and the one thing he wrote every day was what the weather was. After early vocations as a School Master and Maltster, by at least 1841 he was being recorded as a Farmer, at Wheaton Aston in Staffordshire, in the West Midlands of England, and he continued farming after his emigration in 1853. I suspect his recording of the weather, on many days the only thing he recorded, was a habit that probably came out of farming in Staffordshire, then South Australia.

This fits with @JanMurphy's comment:

I just took a webinar yesterday about finding manuscript collections where the lecturer talked about finding a farmer's diary where he recorded something about the weather every day, followed by the other daily events in his life.

and as commented by CanadianGirlScout:

A local museum or archives might have something like a diary or newsletter that recorded weather events.

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