Its only three weeks to go before many of us descend on the NEC in Birmingham for the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show.
One of the most interesting parts of this event are the number of fascinating talks given both on the stands and in the various Society of Genealogist workshops around the hall. They can open up your mind to new places to look for your ancestors or give you tips and tricks to use that you hadn’t considered before.
The Society of Genealogists will be running an extensive programme of workshops by leading genealogists over the course of the three day show. You can choose from a vast number of subjects, for instance: different research techniques, how to record your findings and using parish registers.
Taking place in four theatres (SOG Studios 1, 2, 3 and 4), sessions last for approximately 45 minutes with a fifteen minute break in between. All workshops are free to attend* and subject to capacity – for this reason, you are able to pre-book a seat at your preferred workshops for just £2 when booking your tickets to the show.
Don’t forget the Keynote Workshop** will talk place every day at 1.15pm – 2.30pm in SOG Studio 1.
Heading over to TheGenealogist’s talks stand, that on the plan is near the entrance of the hall, I am looking forward to the Tracing Military Ancestors with Chris Baker, Military Expert & Author, Breaking Down Brick Walls with Mark Baley, Online Expert and Celia Heritage talking about our Ancestor’s Working Lives.
It tells of their most recent release of World War I records and the unique nature of the launch that links records of Soldiers who died in the First World War to their war graves.
These War Office records give full details about a soldier and are linked to where they are buried or commemorated on a memorial.
For the first time it is now possible to find the death record of an ancestor who fought and died in the First World War and with one further mouse-click, discover where they are buried or commemorated through a unique link to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website which provides colour images and details on the War Cemetery including exact location, brief history of the regiments involved and the battles fought.
In a matter of seconds it is possible to trace an ancestor and gain an idea of the history of the battle or military importance of the location of where they fell. It really helps speed up your military research.
From 16 year old Private John Parr, who was the first British soldier to be killed in action on the 21st August 1914 on a patrol north east of Mons, to the last British soldier to die, Private George Edwin Ellison, who fought in most of the major World War One battles only to be killed an hour and a half before the Armistice on 11 November 1918 on patrol on the outskirts of Mons. Both John Parr and George Ellison are buried facing each other at the St Symphorien Military Cemetery having fought and died in ironically the same area of the Western Front, only four years apart emphasising the stalemate of the First World War.
The records link through to TheGenealogist’s other unique military records such as Prisoner of War records, casualty lists and war memorials. For instance you can find the record of Harry Topliffe within this new record set, showing us he enlisted with the Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex Regiment) and was living in Stamford Brook, Middlesex.
Harry was posted to Mesopotamia to fight the Turkish Army. A Prisoner of War record shows that he was imprisoned in Kut-El-Amara and a casualty list record shows that he died there, as a Prisoner. Harry is also listed in TheGenealogist’s War Memorial records, on a memorial within the Harrod’s store in London (he was an employee within the removals department). TheGenealogist then uniquely links to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to show that he was buried in the Baghdad North Gate War Cemetery.
The 650,000 records of the soldiers who died in the First World War provide full details of the serviceman, including full name, where they were born, place of residence, place of enlistment, their rank and service number, cause and date of death and the regiment they served with.
Mark Bayley, Head of Online Content at TheGenealogist.co.uk, comments: “This latest release adds to our unique military collection. These records are great for those looking into what happened to their ancestor in the First World War. With the direct link from the soldiers who died on to the various other collections we hold, along with a link to where they are commemorated, one click gives you the story behind your ancestor’s military history.”
Disclosure: Compensated affiliate links are used in this post.
At the largest Family history show in the world, Who Do You Think You Are? Live in London, I decided to ask the expert on the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives for his tips on researching your family tree. I was looking for some material to include in a module of my courses on English/Welsh family history in which several experts advice will be collated for students.
As I’m feeling generous I’m going to share this piece with you for free here in this blog post today.
For those people who are starting to do family history, then one of the most important things is to take notice of anything that you are told by your relatives. Because, although the information may not be 100 percent true, there is always something that somebody will know that can help give you an idea as to where to go on and find other records.
It’s important that you afford the information in official documents with a certain level of importance. Although that information recorded is only as good as that given by the informant at the time. So beware that any information on a birth certificate, or a census record, can be wrong from day one because the person supplying it didn’t want the officials to know the real truth.
This can confuse people doing their family tree research. The best way of proceeding is to make sure that you look at every type of document available to you. So look at a civil registration certificate. Look at a parish register. Look at a census; try and get a will and look at anything else that will give you the full details relevant to that particular individual.
Doing your family history research that way you’re able to build up a fuller picture.
As you progress you will find that it becomes more complex and you’ll find that you may hit brick walls. You may find that you have conflicting information on an ancestor and that in some instances it’s going to be necessary for you to actually go along and work different lines of the family, investigate different individuals.
What you have got to do is make sure that you eliminate those people that aren’t part of your family. Its ever so easy to go down a wrong line because you haven’t been clear enough in making sure the family or the individual that you have is the right person. And sometimes that’s beyond the experience and the expertise of the average family historian and that’s where you need to talk to the professionals.
That’s where members of ARGA, The Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives can help because they are accredited researchers. They have proven their ability to do this type of family research and while they might not be able to find all the answers, they are better placed than many of us to do so.
The reason why even a professional may draw a blank is that if an ancestor didn’t want to be found in officialdom, then they wont be! Irrespective of how good you are and how through you are, this may sadly be the case. Having said that, however, you stand a better chance with using a professional because they perhaps know a little bit more of the overall number documents that they can use to do just that.
When conducting family tree research, obviously the more information you have, the better; thatâ€™s why millions of family history search terms are typed into google every single day. In fact, it has never been easier to find all kinds of ancestry data online including birth, marriage and death records, maps, old photographs, news archives, military records and much more.
By starting with what you know about your immediate ancestors, those at the beginning of their search can start using googling their family tree right away. Here are some tips that will help you get the most out of google when it comes to investigating your ancestry online.
Google Search Tips
When googling your family history, there are a few things to remember in order for you to narrow down the results to those most relevant to you. These include:
1. Always put the most important information at the start of your search term as this will help order the results into those that are most relevant.
2. Use quotation marks on proper names and exact match phrases. For example, searching â€œLouis Mathersonâ€ will come up with page results that show that exact combination. If you type in Louis Matherson without quotation marks, then you may get results for Joe Matherson or Louis Simon.
3. Exclude unwanted results using a minus sign. For example, if you know that there are two towns in the country called â€˜Gillinghamâ€™ then you could type in â€œGillingham â€“Kentâ€ in order to tell google that you meant the other Gillingham in Dorset. However, adding a minus sign can in some instances also minus pages that refer to both Gillingham in Dorset and Gillingham in Kent, so make sure you careful about what you eliminate.
4. Googleâ€™s search algorithms do take into account synonyms, but you can search for additional synonyms by typing the tilde symbol (~) before certain words such as â€˜~graveyardâ€™ which will display results for â€˜cemeteryâ€™,â€™ churchyardâ€™, and â€˜memorialâ€™.
5. If you have found a page with a long list of names and you want to find the relevant information quickly, you can type ctrl + alt and â€˜fâ€™ and it will bring up a search box in the corner of that page. Simply type in the name you are looking for and the webpage will highlight the matching text within the document instantly.
6. If you want to search a surname, but youâ€™re not sure on the correct spelling then you can use the wildcard symbol (*) which will tell google to accept any consecutive string of characters that appears after the asterisk symbol.
7. If your search takes you to a â€˜file not foundâ€™ error message, this could mean that the page you are looking for is no longer updated (amongst other reasons). But never fear, you can still search for that information by looking for search results that have the word â€˜cachedâ€™ at the end of the description and URL.
Finding Free Genealogy Resources Online
Historical documents are being digitized and added to the internet regularly, so it is always wise to do a quick scan of the latest genealogy news websites. That way you can see if anything has been added that might prove useful to your own investigation.
You may also want to seek out genealogy forums and message boards to see if a distant family member has previously conducted family history research that may be of some relevance to you. However, be wary of using other peopleâ€™s research in your studies because they may have got some of their information wrong. Always double check anything you do decide to include.
Many popular genealogy subscription sites such as ancestry.com allow users a free-trial of their resources, so it may be a good idea to sign up and see what you can find even if you canâ€™t afford the subscription fee.
Historical records will make up the bulk of your investigation, however, you may also want to include interviews with relatives (some maybe more distant than others) in order to add â€˜colourâ€™ to your report. Use social media and people finding services to track these family members down and send them a draft copy. You never know, it might prompt them to start an investigation of their own and you may be able to share your efforts.
So there you have some tips that will help you search effectively online when conducting family tree research. If you have any other relevant tips, please leave a comment below.
Elise Leveque is a freelance translator and blogger from Bristol. She is currently in the throes of putting her own family tree together.
Disclosure: The Links in the above are Compensated Affiliate links. If you click on them then I may be rewarded by Findmypast.co.uk or The Genealogist.co.uk should you sign up for their subscriptions.
It is a well known fact that you should never import another persons research into your own tree until you have checked it. This weekend I have been looking at a Pedigree chart that was sent to me that, at first glance, seemed to give me some great leads on a branch of my family that I have not got further back than 1805 with.
The kind person who had sent it to me seemed to have identified the parents of the ancestor that I had myself got as far back as, and so I went to check the details myself.
At first I thought that it really did look like they had saved me a lot of work and had helped me with my family tree – until I noticed that there were two sons of the family with the same first name and one was my forbear, while the other purported to be his brother.
With the terrible instances of infant and child mortality, in times past, it is often possible to come across parents giving the names of dead siblings to the children born after the death of the older and now deceased child. In this pedigree, however, both of the supposed brothers lived long lives into adulthood!
Having been alerted by this error I now looked with closer interest at the purported father of my confirmed ancestor and noted that in the parish records collection there were two men baptised in the same city around the time I would have expected and that they had different parents and so were different families. So now I needed proof that the one chosen by my correspondent to be my forebear was indeed the father of my ancestor I had already researched and confirmed in the prime sources of the parish register.
Two siblings of the same name and two possible sets of parents!
This is a lesson for those that are new to family research to take on board when they start to search back before the civil records were taken over by the GRO from the parish church records.
It is equally a lesson for me. I was doing a little family research while feeling tired from a heavy week and the temptation was there to cut corners and import wholesale this enticing bit of research into my own tree. Luckily my sense kicked in and I started to check the details as I have been taught to do.
To learn how to trace your English and Welsh family tree properly take a look at my new course by clicking the image below…
Like many, I have been fascinated by the reports in the media lately regarding the finding of Richard III’s remains in the former Greyfriars Church in Leicester.
I was a student in Leicester in the early 1980’s. So it was that I walked past the rather nondescript area where King Richard III was buried on a daily basis on my way to and from lectures and never for one instance thinking of the historical importance of the church that had stood there before.
On my most recent visit to the city, back in January, I was aware of the excitement that was building around the find at Greyfriars car park and picked up some leaflets at the tourist office on the subject. Then this week the world’s media covered the announcement that it was “beyond reasonable doubt” the skeleton of the monarch.
From my point of view, as a family historian, one of the really interesting things was the use of DNA from a descendent of the dead king’s sister to reach this conclusion.
The team from Leicester University had turned to the historian and author John Ashdown-Hill. Back in 2004 he had been able to tracked down the late Joy Ibsen, a direct descendant of Richardâ€™s sister Anne of York and from her to the Canadian born Michael Ibsen, a cabinet maker in London.
Again, of interest to us family historians, is what John Ashdown-Hill said on the BBC’s Radio 4 “Today” programme
â€œAn enormous family tree grew on my computer. You have to trace every possible line of descent because you donâ€™t know which one will die out in 1745 and which one will carry on to the present day â€“ you have to trace them all.â€
On the Who Do You Think You Are Magazine’s website it is reported that the team did not rely on just the one line from Anne of York down to Joy Ibsen, as is the impression gained from some of the media reports this week.
Not only did the genealogists find documentary evidence for each â€˜linkâ€™ of the chain between Anne of York and the late Joy Ibsen, but they were able to make contact with a second maternal line descendant â€“ who wishes remain anonymous â€“ whose DNA was used to confirm a match between genetic material extracted from the skeleton and a swab provided by Joyâ€™s son, Michael.
â€œRight from the start of the project, we did not want to rely entirely on the DNA between Michael and the skeleton. We always wanted to triangulate that wherever possible,â€ explains Professor SchÃ¼rer. â€œWe set about trying to secure a second maternal line, and after several weeks of research we actually did discover this person. The documentary evidence again is there to support this.â€
In a couple of weeks the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE show will be at Olympia and already they have moved the talk by Dr Turi King called “Discovering Richard III” from a smaller area to now be held in the Celebrity Theatre / SOG studio 1 on Saturday, 1.00pm â€“ 1.45pm.
It is billed as telling the story of the research project undertaken at the University of Leicester to discover the burial place of Richard III and the related work to scientifically identify the skeletal remains.
Personally I can’t wait for this year’s WDYTYA? LIVE as I missed last year due to fog disrupting my travel plans!
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Do you ever feel that there are more questions than answers, when researching your family tree?
It seems to me that the more answers we seek, to questions about our ancestors, often trigger more queries about them. This is a bit how I feel this weekend, after Iâ€™ve returned home from a visit to Devon this week.
I called in at the Devon Family History Societyâ€™s â€œTree Houseâ€ in Exeter where I was able to spend a profitable few hours reading the files that they have on families with the surnames I am researching. I was also able to look at what they had on the parishes I was interested in, so giving me some added background to the places where my ancestors lived and worshiped. I came away with a set of useful printouts, for 30 pence each, from a search of their database for records of the persons I was seeking information on. This would save me much time at my next stop, the Devon County Record Offices in Exeter when looking in the parish register microfiches.
I have visited the County Record offices before and had find it was easy to go off on side tracks, so this time I had come prepared with a set of answers that I was seeking from the records held there.Â As always, however, simply by searching the documents and the microfiche of baptisms, weddings and burials, together with the microfilms of Bishopâ€™s Transcripts gave me new lines of inquiries to make. In the course of looking for one ancestor I would spot instances of the family names cropping up in the documents and make a note of the details on my pad of paper.
While I was looking at parish records, for Dartmouthâ€™s three C of E churches, in the hope of finding the burial of one ancestor, then I came across burials of the children of another. I saw a rapid succession of children of my three times great grandparents being baptized and buried by the established church and I wondered if this may explain why the next six are all baptized in the Presbyterian chapel in the town. But this doesnâ€™t explain why one child, who died in 1827 aged 4 years old, is buried by the Church of England in January of that year, while his brother was christened by the minister of the Flavel Presbyterian Church in April 1826, in the year before the death of the first. From a search of BMDregisters.co.uk I have found that all further siblings are christened in that nonconformist church.
While at the Devon County Record Office I was able to examine the books deposited from that Presbyterian church, but could find no mention of my ancestors remaining members in this chapel in later years. The books, that I was able to see, did not go back as far as the time of the christenings in my family, but they did contain lists of members of the church which could be very useful to others researching Presbyterian forebears in Dartmouth.
One of the questions that I had wanted to answer, from my visit to the County Record Office, was did my four time great grandparents stay in Dartmouth? They can not be found in the 1841 census. Now that, I assumed, was because they had died before it was taken. I did indeed find, by working back in years through the burial registers of the parish church, the entry for a likely pair of candidates with the right names and ages that would have made them 25 and 26 on their wedding date in 1794. Yes, this is only supposition that I have found the right Thornâ€™s in Dartmouth as rather frustratingly there are others with the same Christian and surname as my male ancestor in the town. But these two are the closest matches for the facts that I have.
So the lesson is to embrace the discovery of the new questions, that will need answers to in due course. Yes, I went to Devon seeking the answer to one thing and came away with semi-answers and more family history questions to explore. But this is a good thing as it gives me more avenues to research and more information to seek out. It may seem like the jigsaw puzzle is becoming more complicated, as more pieces are being placed on the table in front of me, but in the end a better picture is emerging of my family history. And for that I am excited!
Take your family history further by considering a subscription to these websites:
Disclosure: The Links in the above are Compensated Affiliate links. If you click on them then I may be rewarded by Findmypast.co.uk or The Genealogist.co.uk should you sign up for their subscriptions.
I have happily been spending some time looking around the newly launched British Newspaper Archive in the hope of finding ancestors from my family tree mentioned in articles or advertisements.
I can report that I have had some brilliant luck with some and no luck at all with others. I also have noticed that you have to deploy a lateral thought process to the search for a name mentioned in an article as an ancestor may have been named in full, or with initials or been misspelt by the journalist writing the piece.
Many results are clear and you can decide to save them by bookmarking them on the site. Some selections are, however, not so clear. The tip I would give you is to try and read the snippets, next to the results, with an open mind. On quite a few occasions my brain could make sense of the Gobbledygook that the optical character recognition OCR reports back for that article and recognised family names or places that otherwise would be disregarded as meaningless characters.
At Cuttlehill Farm, Cross?ates. wit I I 12th ir.st., Helen Carmichael, wire of JoÂ»B| I jL C. Foord...
becomes: At Cuttlehill Farm, Crossgates. On the 12th instance, Helen Carmichael, wife of John I L C Foord…
And now on to my discovery. I have, for some time, known of a 2x great-uncle that had been killed from a fall over the cliffs in Alderney and buried back on the English mainland near Weymouth. I had first come across this fact in a privately published book on the monumental inscriptions of a church in Cheltenham. In Christ Church Cheltenham there is a monument on the wall to his parents and at some time a local historian had written not only about the people commemorated by these plaques but also about their family.
As I am resident in Jersey I was intrigued to find that there was a family connection to the more northerly Channel Island and yet I had found nothing to explain how one of my ancestors had met his demise there. A few minutes on The British Newspaper Archive has solved this for me and I am now investigating this further.
To take a look at this great new resource for family historians go to:
There are several things in this world we live in that fascinate me, but do to the fact that I don’t want to write a 7000 word article, I will just tell you about one in particular. Let’s talk about family and where we come from. These days it is becoming more important to know where you come from. By that I mean we all have families, but not all of us know the beginning of our existence. Knowing about your family tree is very important.
The reason why it is important is because if we knew our ancestors, we could very well find out why we act and do the things we do. Knowing your ancestors could be good and bad in many ways.
Knowing your ancestors could be bad especially if your family has had a history of diseases that have plagued generation after generation. Most definitely you can just about determine your life expectancy knowing these things. I know that this could be a very sensitive subject, but the best thing to do is to always look for the bright side of everything.
Take for instance if you knew that your family had a history of cancer. By knowing that this is in your generations before you, it gives you a heads up on how to deal with this fact. If you know this is a severe and direct threat, you can take the necessary precautions to prevent the cancer from going undetected and eventually causing you and you immediate family stress. Once you know the facts you can take steps to help you get ready for the journey and possibly beat this disease.
Now days if you give your doctor all the ammunition needed, they can help you defeat this terrible disease. Take for instance breast cancer. We know how many families lose their love ones to this awful disease every year. Early detection has proven time and time again that people have defeated breast cancer through early detection.
We could talk about all kinds of scenarios, but they all will have the same result good or bad. Let’s just say if you are a person who just want to connect with a mother or a father that has been lost. With the right resources you could very well find that person.
So there really is no excuse to some of the things we go through these days. History always repeats it’s self that we all know. But if we learn or find a way to search for our ancestors, all your questions can be answered in full.
Ancestry.co.uk has launched online the England and Wales National Probate Calendar, 1861-1941 â€“ an index to more than six million wills proven across the 19th and 20th centuries.
Ancestry has said that the combined value of the 6,079,000 estates in the index reveals a fortune that today would be worth more than Â£20 billion! On the flip side, however, the average value of our ancestorsâ€™ estates is a rather modest Â£3,400.
Now not all of us will be able to find our ancestors in this collection, but if you are lucky enough to do then they can be wonderful resource for family historians. The value of the index is that each entry may also include the name of the departed, the date and place of your forebear’s death, the name of the executer and also, in a few instances, bequest recipients.
So what is Probate? This is the term given to the courtâ€™s authority to administer a deceased person’s estate and including the granting representation to a person or persons to administer that estate.
It was in 1857 that the Court of Probate Act came in to force and with it the power to administer estates were transfer from the Church of England to the state. It is the probate calendar books, in which are summarised and collated annually the grants, that are now to be found on Ancestry.co.uk.
Ancestry.co.uk International Content Director Dan Jones comments: â€œThe probate calendar books provide countless new leads for family historians to explore as they move beyond being about family members to long-gone fortunes, mysterious beneficiaries and valuable objects – all with connections back to our ancestors just waiting to be explored.
â€œAnyone able to find an ancestor in the probate calendar books will be able to find out a great deal about how their ancestor lived, what they bequeathed and to whom â€“ meaning we will be able to find out so much more about what their lives would have been like.â€
All wills and administrations were proved in England and Wales however the places of death vary enormously and include more than 107,000 people who died in Scotland, around 20,000 in France and 18,000 in the USA.
To take a look go to Ancestry.co.uk (Disclosure: This is a compensated affiliate link)