Genealogist Anthony Adolph Talks About Family Tree Research and DNA

Genealogist Anthony Adolph
Genealogist Anthony Adolph

Now here is a very special interview for you from my trip to the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE show at the end of February.

I was on my way to The Society of Genealogists stand, where I was volunteering on the second hand book stall as a way of giving something back to the SoG, when I spotted the well respected genealogist and author Anthony Adolph. He was taking questions from show-goers on the stand of the “Your Family Tree Magazine”, a publication for which he writes articles on surname research.

As a shareholder in an independent bookshop I am also aware of Anthony Adolph as an author of several books, including Full of Soup and Gold: The life of Henry Jermyn and many titles on family history.

He was gracious enough to give me a wonderful interview that began by reassuring me and my blog readers/ YouTube Channel viewers, that “we have all reached points in our family trees where we are stuck.”  He revealed that he has been tracing his own family tree for getting on for thirty years now.  “First of all as a complete and utter amateur, as a schoolboy, ” Mr Adolph said, “and then later on I became a professional.”

Giving some hope, to all those of us who find we are facing a brick wall, he charmingly admits that, just like everyone else, at the beginning of each of his family lines he is completely stuck.

The interview then goes on to touch on the four techniques for getting further back:

  1. Oral History
  2. Paper based
  3. Surnames
  4. DNA.

Anthony Adolph then reveals that he has become quite passionate about the latter and how DNA in genealogy enabled him to discover that the “cap” to his family tree was unusual. It seems that the Haplogroup, from which he descends from the genetic Adam and Eve, is G and so from Armenia, Georgia and Turkey. This is in contrast to the fact that most men in Europe are from group R.

Watch the full interview here.

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British Record Society Probate Record Collection

I see that the British Record Society (BRS) Probate Record Collection has gone live on the National Wills Index.

Its a collection that covers more than 500 years and if your ancestor had written a will then perhaps this will make it a bit easier for you to find them. What is important about this release is that much of the data can not be found elsewhere on line and so the release on British Origins (www.origins.net) is to be welcomed.

These BRS probate indexes give you the names and dates of several million wills and other probate documents. It has a search facility that allows the user to view images of the original indexes to find all the information that you need to locate the documents in record offices.

In the future, as the BRS volumes are gradually indexed and uploaded, users will be able to order hard copies of the wills online. and they even promise that eventually we will be able to access the documents thenselves.

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Researching family in Jersey, part 1: where to start

An Old Jersey House

You’ve traced an ancestor to Jersey, and you are wondering what you can find out about them. To your frustration, you rapidly discover that birth marriage and death records for Jersey are not available online. So what can you do?

Well, there are at least some useful Internet resources out there to help you get started. The most obvious one is the Census: Channel Island censuses from 1841 to 1901 are available both through Ancestry and Findmypast, and the 1911 census is on FindMyPast and will soon be fully available on Ancestry too.

A word of caution, though: the transcription is not entirely reliable on either site, and on top of that, some database search engines have problems with “divided” surnames like Le Sueur or Du Feu (not to mention Le Vavasseur dit Durell). So here’s a shameless plug: if you are going to do a lot of searching of censuses, you could do worse than purchase the paper census indexes produced by the CIFHS. They are a lot more accurate (well over 99%), and can (with a bit of fiddling) be cross-referenced back to the census images on the Internet.

There are also military records. If you’re looking at Channel Island relatives who served in the First World War, it’s well worth investigating at greatwarci.net – this is the website of the Channel Island Great War Study Group, and they maintain a very comprehensive list of people who served. The list is rather more complete than Ancestry’s transcript of what’s in the National Archives simply because Jersey residents served not only with the British armed forces but also with the Canadians and Australians. There were also at least a couple of thousand French nationals who joined up with the French military, but records for them are very scanty. If you are looking at other periods (and bear in mind Jersey had a garrison to protect it from the French right up until the 1930s), you may find references to service in Jersey on the military records of Chelsea Pensioners kept on FindMyPast, or on the GRO Regimental Indexes of birth marriage and death.

There are other useful resources too on Ancestry. There are three Channel Island postal directories – covering 1839, 1903 and 1927 – that may help to link a name to an address.

You may also be fortunate enough to find online family trees. Ancestry host them, as do Genesreunited, and there are also numerous independently-produced web sites. The general rule of thumb is to treat these as a guideline: they may be inaccurate, or they may tell the truth as far the researcher knows it – but not the whole story.

Aside from this, there’s a couple of major Internet resources based in the Channel Islands that may help you with your research. More about them next time. À bétôt!

Guest blog by James McLaren from the Channel Islands Family History Society


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TheGenealogist.co.uk speaks to The Nosey Genealogist

While at the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show last week I was so glad to get to talk to Nigel Bayley of one of the UK’s most important look up websites TheGenealogist.co.uk.

Nigel kindly explains about the new search facility that they have recently introduced and also about some of the new data bases that have come on line at the subscription site.

Nigel Bayley of The Genealogist.co.uk
Nigel Bayley Managing Director of The Genealogist.co.uk

Watch the video by clicking  here.

This is a number of interviews from the WDYTYA? Live show that can be seen by clicking on the navigation button at the top of this page.

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Jersey Family History Forum at WDYTYA? Live

Jersey Family History Forum at the WDYTYA? Live show 2011
Jersey Family History Forum at the WDYTYA? Live show 2011

I had to be up, showered and breakfasted for 6 am, in order to make my way to Jersey airport and the 7 am “red-eye” to London Gatwick. The fact that I, not in any way a morning person, was prepared to do this stems from the timetable of workshops that I had seen for the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE show at Olympia.

First on, in the Society of Genealogist’s Regional theatre was “Researching Your Family History in Jersey” given by Sue Payn and James McLaren and I really wanted to be there for the workshop. My bus to the airport, the flight to London and the coach transfer to central London all ran reasonably to schedule and so I was in the building by 10.15. and taking a seat in time for the presentation.

James’ began by clearing up the perennial misunderstanding by people from outside of the island, regarding Jersey’s constitutional position. As a Jersey born and educated person, myself, I have spent most of my life making similar statements to his and so a smile warmed my face as the familiar words rang out.

I am often heard saying that we are not part of England and Wales, nor are we part of Great Britain, nor the United Kingdom and we are not in the EU, but are British Islands.

As James said: “We are a Crown Dependency: we owe allegiance to the British crown, but in most other respects we are self-governing. We have our own legal system, large parts of which are quite different from English law. In this respect we are similar to Guernsey, but please understand that we are not the same! It’s like the difference between a Mercedes-Benz and an Austin Allegro – the principle is the same, a vehicle that gets you from A to B, but the detailed implementation is rather different.”

This brought another smile to my lips as the old rivalry, with our sister Bailiwick of Guernsey, was introduced to the good folk in the workshop. Both Bailiwicks trace a Norman heritage and when in 1204 King John lost his French possessions, the Channel Islands kept allegiance to the British Crown.

One of the first things you are going to find, if you are researching your ancestors from Jersey is that the records are invariably going to be in French, as this was the official language of this island until very recently when English has become dominant. James pointed out that Jersey was very largely French or Jerriais-speaking until the middle of the 19th century, and so a lot of legal records long after that were kept in French. The deeds to my house, for example.

I have often heard people in the island refer to these documents being written in “proper French” to distinguish the language used from Jerriais, the name given to the Jersey French patois spoken in the island, which even comes with variations in pronunciation across the 45 square miles of the island!

Jersey people have always travelled far from their island; some to settle away in places such as Canada, Australia and of course to the United Kingdom. Some stay and some return. As James said the reason Jersey folk travelled was “– partly because of our rules on inheritance, partly because there was money to be made in trade, partly to serve Queen and country in the armed forces, and more recently because the only way to get higher education was to go to the big island to the north of us. Consequently there are numerous people in the UK who have Jersey ancestry somewhere in their past.”

I shall be returning to the subject of Jersey Ancestors and have more from James McLaren from the Channel Islands Family History Society in another post on this site shortly.

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What to expect from ancestry.co.uk in 2011

At the 2011 family history show “Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE” I was fortunate to grab a chat with Dan Jones from ancestry.co.uk.

For Dan Jones of ancestry.co.uk interview click here

Family historians will find out by watching my interview with Dan, where this important family tree research site will be heading in the next few months and it seems that Ancestry’s focus will be on continuing the development of parish records on ancestry.co.uk that they had started with London and the registers from LMA and also bringing us more occupational records.

Tony Tutorial 468x60

The interview is just one of a number recorded at the UK’s largest family history show: Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE at London’s Olympia. The event is a fantastic mix of workshops, exhibitors and more for those of us passionate about family tree research.

To watch the other videos navigate to the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE 2011 button on the bar above, or simply watch at my YouTube channel: www.YouTube.com/NoseyGenealogist

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WDYTYA? LIVE show at Olympia 2011

Who Do you Think You Are? LIVE 2011
Who Do you Think You Are? LIVE 2011

Just published a video on my Youtube channel from the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show from last weekend.

http://www.youtube.com/user/NoseyGenealogist

WDYTYA? Live is, as many of you know, the UK’s largest family history show. It’s a great place to find over 200 family history exhibitors all under the one roof. The stands ranged from The Society of Genealogists, Ancestry, TheGenealogist.co.uk, findmypast to small business and the various Family History Societies.

Also of fantastic value were the many workshops going on throughout the three days.

More videos will be added to the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE pages on this blog. See the pages tabs above.

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NoseyGenealogist.com/blog interviews Your Family Tree Magazine’s Editor

Here is the first of my From the show video reports..
http://www.noseygenealogist.com/blog/who-do-you-think-you-are-live-2011
In which I get to talk to Mr Tom Dennis, the editor of the popular family history publication: Your Family Tree Magazine. It was at the 2011 “Who Do You Think You Are? Live” show in London that I caught up with Tom on his magazine’s stand and got to hear the plans for some of the family history articles and features that we can look forward to in his magazine over the next few months. We also get an insight into what resources we should look out for on the cover CD and hear how the on-line forum for family historians is developing.

Your Family Tree Magazine Editor talks to The Nosey Genealogist
Your Family Tree Magazine Editor talks to The Nosey Genealogist
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