Happy New Year everybody!
I am just back from a trip away to visit the family for the Christmas break and inevitably got to meet some people who are interested in their family history and knowing my interest in the subject had various questions for me. Some wanted to be given quite specific advice on how to find an ancestor, while others just wanted to know how to make a start in this hobby.
For the beginners I trotted out the well worn mantra that you should write down everything that you know about your family as far back as you can go. I advised them to concentrate on the information that they knew on their parents, grandparents and, if possible, their great-grandparents while noting down the names, dates of birth, marriages and deaths together with the places that these events had happened in.
I told my friends that they should record where in the world that their ancestors lived and in what part of the country this was, as that would have a bearing on where to look for the records. Then they could make a start with the census collections and gradually work back making sure to always look at the original image to check for spelling and only use transcripts as a useful guide to the former warning them that the transcript could have been copied down incorrectly.
For the slightly more advanced, I explained about locating difficult to find relatives by using a variant of the surname. Expanding that, as spelling in the records was not consistent and relied on the way it may have sounded to the vicar who was entering it in the parish register, their ancestor’s name may be spelt differently from the way that they wrote it today. I advised about visiting the County Record offices to search for information and how the Archon search on the National Archives website could be used to find repositories.
Other new friends asked me about searching for wills, Apprentice indentures and marriage licences. Then there was the conversations that I had about taxation records and also the manorial records.
I was so pleased to find that more and more people seem to be interested in the subject and I do hope that they discover what a fascinating pass-time that this is and begin to enjoy the detective work as I do!