How Do I Trace My UK Family Tree?

I was doing some research on the web today when I chanced on this article. I think it is worth republishing here, as the advice it give is so good.

How Do I Trace My UK Family Tree? By Mike Roy

A question I am often asked is how do I trace my UK family tree?

Taking the journey into the unknown territory of the past can be a mixture of exhilaration and tedium. You will meet with misspelt names, birth dates that vary from one census to another, missing ancestors and be led down blind alleys. But when you finally meet up with that elusive ancestor the joy of success will spur you on with your research.

Like every good journey it starts with the first step, so buckle up your genealogical seat belt and Ill guide you through the first important stages.

First find any birth, marriage and death certificates, correspondence, insurance policies, ration books, etc. These will be of great help to you as you start your research. Anything that will give you details of your parents or grandparents. Gather up as much information as you can and jot it all down to start your tree. Lay the tree out as the youngest first and work back. You can download blank family tree charts on our site if you wish, then start completing your family tree as far back as you can.

Keep detailed notes on each person. You will thank yourself for this action when you find that you are retracing back and forth to verify information. I cant stress this enough, you must be sure that you have the correct records for your ancestor, not somebody else’s. It is quite an easy mistake to follow the wrong family back through the centuries as names can be similar and sometimes the same. I found that my great, great, great grandfather had a detail double, with the same name, the same year of birth and the same place of birth. It took 2 months of research into each one, retracing details back and forth to tie in the right man! I almost felt I could claim the other man as an ancestor, I knew him so well in the end!

Your initial aim is to collect enough verified information to take you back to 1911, at which point you can delve into the world of census records and begin to unlock the doors to your past. Within the census your ancestors will come alive for you.

Don’t worry if you cant find any certificates lurking in drawers or boxes, armed with only your parents names you may still be able to trace back through the years, although you will have to buy birth and marriage certificates. I managed to trace my family tree knowing only the names of my parents and their dates and places of their birth. I needed to buy my parents’ birth certificates so that I could find out their parents details, thus keeping the trail going.

To overcome this type of problem I recommend you sign up as a member of a genealogical website, and then start searching their records. My first search was my fathers name, date and place of birth the results showed all the possible matches with my dad at the top of the list. I clicked on the link and it took me to the registered GRO entry for his birth, which in turn gave me the index reference details:

  • Surname at birth
  • Forenames
  • Year
  • Qtr. (the year is broken into 4 quarters)
  • District
  • Vol.
  • Page

Every event of birth, marriage or death registered in England and Wales is allocated a reference by the General Register Office. Next I went to the GRO website (www.gro.gov.uk) and purchased my dads birth certificate. I repeated the same process for my mum.

By supplying the index reference the correct entry can be located by the GRO and the certificate will be sent to you. You can also purchase certificates from registration offices, but if you want to research online without having to travel miles then the internet is the way to go.

I sat back and waited for the post, it took about 7 days for the certificates to arrive. I opened them with anticipation and I wasn’t disappointed. I had in front of me the full details of my grandparents, their names, addresses and occupations. I used this information to find their marriage, which in turn gave me their fathers names and this was all I needed to take me back to the census records and from there fly back in time to meet my older ancestors.

This completes the first article on how to trace your family tree. I will be publishing further articles on how to use birth, marriage and death certificate information and how to use census records found online.

Articles Source: How Do I Trace My Uk Family Tree?

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Bankrupt Ancestors in Your Family Tree!

We all know that in today’s new economy people are getting themselves into debt. Worse still, for some, is the prospect of going bankrupt. It may seem that bankruptcy is a modern phenomena, well it isn’t. Getting into debt was also a common problem for our ancestors as well. As we all love a skeleton in the cupboard, just how can we find out if one of our family has had the problem to face back  in the Britain of the past? It would seem that we may be able to find out more online.

In my research into my family tree I remember chancing on some family notes that, on face value, seemed to identify one of my ancestors as having been a partner in a business enterprise that had failed. To start with I had had no inkling that my forebear, in question, had even been a merchant, so to learn that his enterprise had eventually hit the rocks was an interesting nugget of information in itself. As a bookseller, myself, and having read the Charles Dickins novel called Little Dorrit, which you will no doubt know is set in within a debtor’s prison, I wanted to find out if my own ancestor had faced being declared bankrupt.

In England, Bankruptcy goes all the way back to a statute of Henry VIII in 1542. The 1571 Bankruptcy Act brought about the idea that a bankrupt person would be able to settle their debts, by distributing what remaining assets they had, through independent commissioners. Up until 1705  the unfortunate debtor could never be discharged from bankruptcy and so the stigma would remain with them for ever!

Legally, Bankruptcy is a process in which a court official assumes charge of a qualifying debtor’s property so that a distribution can be made to the creditors of the debtor in a proportion to the sum that they are owed.

Only in the year 1869 was it that individuals who were not undertaking a business  of some sorts were able to become bankrupt. Before this date, ordinary people were known as being insolvent instead. These souls faced being sent to debtor’s prison and were not released until they had found a way to pay off their creditors. Bankruptcy, as such, applied strictly to people who were traders, that is those who bought and sold goods, or who worked some materials into things that they then sold.

District bankruptcy courts were first established outside of London from 1842. Then their jurisdiction passed on in 1869 to the County Courts. In the capital city the London Court of Bankruptcy was set up in 1869, before being absorbed into the High Court of Justice in 1883. Should you wish to find details of what’s available for you to search then I recommend taking a look at Access to Archives at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2a/

Independent assessors, known as Commissioners, would determine if a debtor was eligible for bankruptcy or not. If they were satisfied that bankruptcy could take place, then they would publish a notice in the London Gazette declaring the debtor bankrupt. Also posted would be a list of potential creditors along with the dates set for meetings. The London Gazette’s archives are easily searched today on-line at www.london-gazette.co.uk. This is a fantastic resource  for any family historian hot on the trail of a bankruptcy. You are able to search the archives by date and name, then view a pdf image of the pages that your results have found. The London Gazette has been published since 1665 with a regular publication of bankruptcies stretching back to 1684 and also 1712 for insolvent debtors. Scottish notices can be found in the Edinburgh Gazette at : www.edinburgh-gazzette.co.uk

Family historians can locate case files for English bankruptcies at The National Archives in Kew, while Scottish sequestrations are to be found at The National Archives of Scotland. Unfortunately, for us, the majority of case files for England have not survived, but those that have are indexed on TNA’s online catalogue.

Other resources to consider are journals that published similar notices to the gazettes. These will include The Times; The Gentleman’s Magazine; Perry’s Bankrupt & Insolvent Gazette (1828-1861) and Perry’s Bankrupt Weekly Gazette (1862-1881). If you are looking for notices of bankruptcies in the County Court, then you will probably need to turn to local newspapers for the area in question. The British Library would be the place to look for these. Now we are also able to search contents of newspapers at http://newspapers.bl.uk/blcs.

Insolvent ancestors can be an interesting topic of research. Remember, however, that their hardship carried much more stigma than it does today. In modern times we can go into debt, declare ourselves bankrupt, or wipe out a huge chunk of our debt with the alternative Individual Voluntary Arrangement IVA. And yet none of us lives in the fear of being incarcerated in the debtor’s prison in the 21st century.

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Military Records in Family Tree Research

With Remembrance Sunday just passed yesterday, I guess many of you may have turned your minds, like I did, to where can we find our ancestors who fought in the wars and conflicts that have taken place.

It seems, rather sadly, that it is easier to find records for British service personnel that died in action than the survivors. There is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, local war memorials and rolls of honour, local newspaper archives amongst other places to find “The Glorious Dead”.

If, like me, you had a father who served in the Merchant Navy in the Second World War, then you can find the details of merchant seamen’s medal cards at the National Archives documents online.

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/seamens-medals.asp

The official journals of the the British Government, the London, Edinburgh and Belfast Gazettes are great places to start looking for promotions, awards of gallantry medals and honours and the details of the commissioning and promotions of officers in the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.

Service Records are more difficult to find. A large number of WWI records have been lost to bombing in the Second World War, but as officer’s records were not stored in the same place, you have a better chance of uncovering these. To find a soldier requires the researcher to know the regiment and service number of their ancestor. A tip I read in the Your Family Tree Magazine last month  (Issue 96 November 2010) was that as most service men were awarded at least one medal then the name indexes to the medal rolls are a good place to start researching.


Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.

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Very Helpful Details On How To Access Death Records

Many people often wonder about their family genealogies or about what may have happened to certain people who they were once close to. However, they rarely do anything to find out that information. In some cases, public death records may hold the answers that people are looking for and this article can tell you all about them.

Gaining access to someone’s death certificate may provide you with the information that is required for making a family tree. Additionally, these records can provide you with information that can help you understand what happened to someone who you were close to.

Today, these records can hold a wealth of information about the person who has passed on. You can find out what their recorded cause of death was, who they were married to, and when they were married. You can also find out if they had any children, who the next of kin is, and what they did for a living.

It is possible to get these records by contacting the appropriate state department. However, getting an answer can take a long time and they may only have access to their records, rather than the records for the whole country. It may be better to use an online service instead.

Prior to using a Web service, you should research it to find out how accurate their results are. Unfortunately, all services have not been created equally, so it is important to not spend any money until you’re sure that you’ll be getting the information you require.

To find out which online USA death records service is best for you, you should look for online reviews and specifically search for complaints or class actions that were filed against the company. If you find that a Web service has tons of complaints, you should avoid it.

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North American Family History

Those family historians, who are researching their family trees back before the start of the census collections in North America, will be aware that they have to find some alternative records sets to find their ancestors. So what suggestions can we make?

Luckily I was reading up on this subject in last month’s Your Family Tree Magazine.. Issue 96 November 2010.

The article points out that first nominal census took place in 1850 in the USA and 1851 in Canada and so for those of you trying to find ancestors from before these census took place, then the best option available to you is to use the tax records.

What you are quickly going to find is that mostly only adult males are going to be listed in these records. Questions to consider are what age did a person have to be to be included in the poll tax and also what type of property were subject to tax? Best advice is to check out the relevant government regulations so that you can interpret accurately what the data is revealing.

Regretfully there are very few records of these taxes online, but Cyndi’s list is a good place to find links when they exist. www.cyndislist.com

Here you should find links to Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.

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Family History Information Scanned So That We Can Research Our Family Trees

Have you ever wondered how a website like findmypast.co.uk goes about scanning the information for us family historians to use before they put up online?

I mean what do they have to do to actually extract all that information from the government documents so that eventually we can go online and type in our search criteria and then get to see the results?

I watched this film and was fascinated by the facts…

  • There are 18 million pages of the 1911 census of England & Wales.
  • 36 million people made up the population then, just before the First World War.
  • 10 times the number of images than the 1901 census.
  • A team of 350 people worked on the transcriptions.
  • 7 billion keystrokes were made by the transcribers!
  • 2 Kilometres of shelving housed the 1911 census before the process of scanning started.
  • Watch it here.


    Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate of findmypast.co.uk

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Don’t Forget Newspapers Online For Your Family Tree Research

Don’t forget how useful finding old newspaper articles can be when researching your ancestors. There are several online now and they can be a great resource for family historians.

But perhaps your ancestor’s life was not important enough to make it to the nationals? Well have you considered looking in the local papers? I’ve read a fantastic article about one of my ancestors, written at the time of his retirement and published in the local newspaper.

If you want to know more about archives online for newspapers there is a useful post on the Your Family Tree Magazine web site. Take a look at this link…
http://www.yourfamilytreemag.co.uk/2010/09/13/quick-tip-find-local-newspapers/

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More Devon Parish Registers On-line!

As many of you know I am particularly interested in the county of Devon, as so many of my paternal line comes from that county of England.

One of the biggest problems for me is that the number of Parish Registers on-line does not seem to be as great as for many other English counties. So here is some good news that I recently found on a trawl of the news sites..

Over 360,000 Devon baptism records have been published on the FindMyPast web site in the past month.

You are able to now search for your Devon ancestors in 363,015 new parish baptism records on findmypast.co.uk and these baptism records cover the period between 1813 and 1839.

It would seem that the Devon Family History Society has supplied findmypast.co.uk with these records, for which we should all be grateful. I know that I am!

Here is a link to the site, but first a warning to all those of you that don’t like the idea of  promotion for compensation. This is an affiliate link for which I will be compensated if you decide to join!

findmypast.co.uk




Disclosure: I am a Compensated Affiliate of findmypast.co.uk.

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Ancestry.co.uk publishes prison ‘hulks’ records online.

A first for Ancestry.co.uk (Link is a compensated affiliate link) is their newly published “Prison Hulk Registers and Letter Books, 1802-1849″  This record set contains the incarceration records of nearly 200,000 people locked up in giant floating jails known as prison hulks.

The convicts’ records that are physically stored away in The National Archives in Kew, provide us with a fascinating insight into the Victorian criminal underworld and conditions aboard the Dickensian ships, which were created to ease overcrowded prisons.

Prison Hulks became an all to common place means to intern criminals during the 18th century. This was a time when many warships, previously used in naval conflicts were being decommissioned and then converted into huge floating prisons. Some of the ships that feature in this fascinating collection include HMS Bellerophon that saw action during the Napoleonic Wars, HMS Retribution, from the American Revolutionary War and HMS Captivity, a veteran of the French Revolutionary Wars.

The records Ancestry have put online, can show you who were imprisoned on these hulks and detail each inmate’s name, year of birth, age, year and place of conviction, offence committed, name of the hulk and, somewhat fascinatingly, character reports written by the ‘gaoler’ that provides an intriguing insight into the personality of each convict.

A an example, the entry for one Thomas Bones recalls that he was ‘a bold daring fellow, not fit to be at large in this country’, while the record for George Boardman explains ‘this youth has been neglected by his parents and been connected with bad company’. William Barton’s record simply reads ‘very bad, three times convicted’.

As well as featuring murderers, thieves and bigamists, the records also reveal examples of rough justice. Several eight-year-old boys were imprisoned on the hulks, as was 84-year-old William Davies, who was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for sheep stealing and later died on board the hulk HMS Justitia.

Ancestry.co.uk for prison hulks records
Click this image to go to ancestry.co.uk. -Â Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate Link.
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