The Private Bill Witness database is a giant name index of potential use for family historians.
The Parliamentary Archives holds 5,400 volumes of evidence on private bills, relating to the building of roads, railways, canals and other public works, dating from 1835 onwards. They consist of verbatim accounts, directly taken from shorthand notes of the examination of promoters, engineers and other expert witnesses, and of property holders and other members of the public who would be affected by the bill.
The Private Bill Witness database is primarily an index of the names of individuals who gave evidence, but it can include further information about them, such as their occupation, place of residence or place of work. It also gives the name of the bill which they were giving evidence about and ties them to the specific volume or range of volumes held by the Parliamentary Archives, in which they appear.
For more information including frequently asked questions and a glossary of terms, and to search the database, see the Private Bill Witness database webpages.