This is the International Genealogical Index being built up by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and is a database of births/baptisms and marriages. You should already be well aware of what can be found on the IGI microfiche and CD-ROMs. If not, then you should certainly visit the Local Studies department of your public library (in the UK), your local family history society or a Family History Centre of the LDS Church. The CD-ROM's now include the 1851 & 1881 Census and the Vital Records Index (basically an addendum to the main IGI).
Now there is an LDS web site Family Search where you should go to "Search for Ancestors" and search the surname of interest. This search engine will search their Ancestral File, the IGI and Web Sites and you can refine the search by entering first names. But remember that it is one of the most frequently accessed sites in the world so you may experience a few delays.
While these databases are extensive and worldwide, it is as well to
recognise their limitations and to regard them as secondary sources. In the
UK the primary sources are Parish Registers and Bishop's Transcripts, but
these are usually microfilmed records and in view of the age and condition
of the originals, most are not easy to read. So the liklihood of errors
creeping into the IGI cannot be ignored and checking the microfilm source is
advisable. Also the IGI only includes births/baptisms and marriages (not
deaths) and will have omitted other information due to lack of space. Some,
if not all of the additional details provided by the vicar or curate at the
time of making the entry can be of great value and should not be
For some baptism records, the date of confirmation (or full entry into the Church of England) has often been added later. This tells you that they survived the rigours of early childhood and were probably not nonconformists. The father's trade/occupation and the mother's maiden name are sometimes included.
Early marriage records may also have some additional information such as where the bridegroom came from, ages and the names of witnesses.
Burial records usually include an age although this may be somebody's guess and often give the father/mother for infant burials.
All of these church records very much depend on the individual cleric who was there on the day. His choice of spelling for the surname, knowledge of the family and willingness to give additional information are all factors that will be of immense value (or otherwise) some 300 years later! But they are primary sources and although you may never see the actual document, (the Local Record Office will only let you see it if you prove that it is essential) these records are of fundamental importance. Yes, there are also printed transcripts with indexes for some Parish Registers but it's never the one you want.
Here's a new site that must be regarded as comprehensive although it has only recently started to offer online search facilities. But as it's probably the largest collection of historical records in the world going back to before 1066, even the electronic indexing of a fraction of what's available is an enormous task. But they have made a start and my first search came up with 12 hits for the name Boughton! So get yourself to the UK National Archives Site and start searching.
What are the other comprehensive sources? Yes, there are many others but in
most cases they add the detail to the outline you have already drawn.
However you must not ignore the fact that someone else may have been working on your family tree. Indeed there are now many written pedigrees that can be found just by looking in the right book or finding the right web page. So if you have not done so already, start by consulting the reference books in your town or city library. Better still, why not try a direct link now?
Well how about the surname resources on ROOTSWEB for a start. Then try their very large GEDCOM files.
While there are many other sources on the WWW, they are not necessarily going
to give you a big step forward unless you are very lucky. While many of the
family history sites do provide some extracts of records, you cannot expect
it to be exactly what you want.
It's rather like people who put adverts in magazines and on Teletext asking for information on missing or distant relatives. They would be more likely to establish contact by using telephone directories and a phone call or even just googling the name!.
Part 1...Where and how did the name originate?
Part 2...The earliest mention of the name.
Part 3...Birth's, marriages and deaths before 1837.
Part 4...Searchable online documents.
Part 6...Links to Surname Lists.
Part 7...Loose Ends.
Part 8...Trees and Tables. (First tree added 28/4/02).
Part 9...Useful References.