for Researching Your Ancestors
to everyone in your family about what they know about the ancestors,
keeping in mind that memories can fade and that some of their
information is inaccurate or embellished. (Great Great Grandma was a
full-on Romany Gypsy, or, as is often found in U.S, genealogy, “Our
ancestors were related to UK Royalty & came over with the Pilgrim
Fathers” are two examples of information that is said over &
over that is usually not true.) Write down what you've found out.
create or download a genealogy program to organize your information. If
you can afford to join one or more of the commercial genealogy websites,
such as Ancestry.com, Myheritage.com or Findmypast, they will provide
you with your own “area” to hold your data & share with other
members. This way all of your information is organized and can be
emailed to someone easily.
"Resources" in the local libraries. In these places you will
also find many links to great sites for beginners.
all types of spellings when you look for records. Many times the
spelling changed (Coventon to Covington or Covernton) or the person
writing down the information had trouble deciphering the script. The
"s" looks like "f" in some old script, so Smith
could look like Fith to a beginning transcriber. Don’t forget that
literacy levels before the 20th century were generally poor, so many
local birth, death & marriage records were not always spelt by the
reporter & left to someone else to spell it how he/she sought fit.
any of the various search engines available on the web. However, be
aware that as society has become more protective of personal data, many
previously available documents are now unavailable to view. Bring out
the “Investigator” within yourself!
a query on the query board. There are a number of different query boards
on genealogical websites.
census records in the county and in surrounding counties, where your
ancestors were raised. The great thing about these records is that whole
families are listed together. Over the years, more info was held.
the Cemetery records. There are quite a few on online and there are
links to other's pages that have records.
the funeral home listings. Quite often, people did not have money to buy
a tombstone, but their remains were handled by an undertaker.
the birth, death and marriage records. Those may list parents’ names,
etc. Get copies of these records by ordering them from the appropriate
source, but we careful as it can prove expensive if you buy the wrong
John Smith’s certificate !.
the court records index. If you find something of interest, try to order
the record from the County Clerk. Also know that they are short-staffed
and may not be able to fill your request. You may have to make a trip to
the area or hire a researcher to get the information for you.
the old newspapers, many are now available online, or a visit to the
paper’s HQ may be necessary.
your local Genealogical Society. They're a great source of information
and can help with the "How do I ... "
finally … don't take every piece of information someone sends you as
gospel! Ask for sources! Verify information! Have an open mind! YOU
could be mistaken!
the past The Family Records Centre in London was a major source of
material. However, this facility is no longer open to the public with
all Indexes, etc hidden away in the National Archives. Birth, Death
& Marriage Certificates can be obtained online at www.gov.uk/order-copy-birth-death-marriage-certificate
birth certificate will give you: place & date of birth, sex, full
names, parent's names, including mother's maiden name and father's
marriage certificate shows: place & date of marriage, names, ages,
marital status, occupations and addresses of bride and groom, names and
addresses of both fathers and names of witnesses.
death certificate gives: place, date, cause of death, full name, sex,
age at death, occupation of deceased and name of informant.
certificates cost £9.25 each and are delivered by post (max 14 days).
For next day guaranteed delivery cost is £23.40 (2018 prices)
Society of Genealogists, 14 Charterhouse Buildings, Goswell Road,
London, EC1 is well worth checking out, particularly the Great Card
Index and Boyd's Marriage Index. A full day searching costs £18 (2018)
for non-members, although you can visit for 2 hours (£5) or 4 hours £10)
and you will need to provide one of the standard forms of personal ID.
It will help if you are well prepared, having already got a good
knowledge of your family tree. Annual membership is £80 for full
membership with Associate membership costing £56. See website for
opening hours & further details of the info they hold at www.sog.org.uk.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints main Family History Centre
is now based at The National Archives at Kew Gardens in Richmond,
Surrey. Amongst many other fascinating documents provides access to the
International Genealogical Index. Well worth a visit and no need to
become a Mormon ! Their website can be accessed at www.londonfamilyhistory.org
UK National Archives can provide you with valuable information on a wide
range of subjects www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/
habits for naming children often focus on what sounds good to the new
parents, and what sounds good is heavily influenced by popular culture.
For this reason, there is a trendy flood of Jason, Justin, or Jared and
a flood of Zach and Megan - names almost unheard of 20 years ago.
older Great Britain, other norms governed the naming of children. For
example, family researchers might run across Biblical names, such as
Zacharias or Benjamin, or names for religious principles, like Faith,
Hope, and Charity. Such names were not common in England and may
suggest that the family was particularly committed to religion and may
have been non-conformist dissenters (belonged to a church other than the
state Church of England, or Anglican). This can be a significant hint to
the family researcher.
most common convention, however, was for the parents to choose names
that honored people. Sometimes the people so honored were powerful
people, such as a local, wealthy landowner. Sometimes the names honored
royalty. So there were many Henrys named after King Henry and many
Georges named after King George. The most common persons to honor,
however, were the gender appropriate grandparents and parents. This can
be another hint to differentiate between two sets of same-name parents
having children in the same town or village or to the likelihood of a
“missing” child in a family. It also introduces the concept of
considered repugnant to modern ears, a child’s untimely death meant
the end of the honor bestowed upon someone. Since many children died in
the 17th and 18th centuries, parents had no problem with re-using the
name of a dead child for a subsequent birth. A family might, therefore,
have several John or Jane children. Occasionally, the same name was
given to more than one living child, but this was rare. The re-use of a
name almost always meant that the first child with that name had died.
was even a convention in the order in which the ancestors were honored
– probably to avoid insulting anyone. Although it was far from
universally used, the usual British naming convention was as follows:
The first son was named after the paternal grandfather
• The second son was named after the maternal grandfather
• The third son was named after the father
• The fourth son was named after the oldest paternal uncle
• The fifth was named after the second oldest paternal uncle or the
oldest maternal uncle
The first daughter was named after the maternal grandmother
• The second daughter was named after the paternal grandmother
• The third daughter was named after the mother
• The fourth daughter was named after the oldest maternal aunt
• The fifth was named after the second oldest maternal aunt or the
oldest paternal aunt
there was duplication (for example, the paternal grandfather and the
father had the same name), then the family moved to the next position on
Names & Nicknames –
link to USGenWeb Project info
List of Links to Name Sites
Records are definitely going to a part of your research. This can be
done in a lot of different ways. Here is a list of good online Census
Information from GENUKI
USGW Census Project –
A wonderful resource for US genealogy data
List of Census Sites –
Valuable source of links to other great websites
immigration and Passenger Arrival Records –
link to US National Archives
can be a lot of information available to you if you can find the
immigration papers of your ancestor. The US National Archives are only
available via a visit to Washington DC, but most of the pay to join
genealogy sites offer online access
can be a valuable genealogical tool. Some geographical research will
probably become necessary in your search as early county lines were in
flux, towns and townships changed names and other geographical changes
occurred. You might need to know what was located near to a certain
river and other things like that.
Information and Date Formats –
link to USGenWeb Project info
you will find a lot of information on old calendars, date changes,
double dating, etc.
are links to other pages that will help you either get started or get
over the brick wall. I have also provided links to specialty sites like
document preservation, old photograph preservation, bible preservation,
passenger & ships records, special ethnic sites and much, much more.
Good luck and happy researching!
Resources, Links, How-tos, Articles, Chat, Forums, and More
List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet -
Links to every topic you can think of.
Search Internet Genealogy Service -
This is the online version of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day
Saints Family History Center.
Exchange & Surname Registry -
Lots of great info and there is even a Kid's Corner!
A great deal of good info and links to many, many other sites.
The How-to Genealogy WWW
A LITTLE DEEPER INTO FAMILY HISTORY
you have compiled your family tree, you may look at the sheets of paper
in front of you and ask the following question about each individual on
your chart; "Who was he, or she? What were they really like? How
did they live?" "What sort of an environment did they live
known, I have included a brief pen-picture about some individuals but
this only tells you a very small amount about the person. It tells you
little about his lifestyle, his surroundings, or the state of the
country at the time of his life. Nowadays we take so much for granted
that our ancestors couldn't possibly enjoy. Take out electricity, motor
cars, running hot & cold water, television, overseas holidays, city
centre stores and supermarkets from our current lifestyle and our
existence would seem a little bland. However, if one believes the saying
"You don't miss what you've never had", we can be happy that
our ancestors were not too disillusioned with their lot.
particularly sad element of their lifestyle was the enormity of the
number of child deaths which occurred. It seems quite commonplace, for a
couple to lose 3, 4 or 5 children before they were 1 year old. It is
difficult, nowadays, to relate to this situation, as very few birth or
early childhood mortalities occur. Today, when they do happen, they are
usually classified as still-births or blamed on cot death, very
occasionally some serious physical ailment, such as heart, lung or
kidney malfunction is responsible. However, in years gone by, many now
insignificant illnesses such as Measles and Whooping Cough resulted in
infant death. Many simply didn't make it through the trauma of actual
childbirth, where few, but the offspring of the very rich, would have
been delivered by a qualified physician.
to the 1851 census, out of 1000 live births, 154 died before reaching 1.
In 1986 it was 9.6 deaths per 1000. Those that did survive circa 1841,
lived to an average age of 41. Today the average age at death is nearer
example of how we often forget how things used to be struck me when I
was researching my Great Grandfather's life. I had found that he had
been a driver in the Royal Artillery. Not a bad job, I thought,
chauffeuring the Colonel around, perhaps, or maybe even driving the
ammunitions truck. But no, because in 1880 there were very few
limousines or Bedford trucks, so Driver Covington was actually in charge
of a team of horses pulling a gun carriage. Many of his family were
agricultural labourers or straw plait workers, both of which were
working in a very labour intensified industry, no tractors or combine
harvesters in those days. No wonder they died so young!
a good place to start when trying to get a wider picture of your
Covington is the place where he or she lived. Whilst the majority of
buildings over 200 years old have long since disappeared, you will
usually be able to visit the church where your ancestor was baptized,
married or buried. A visit to the nearest library can help with useful
background information, sometimes old street maps and photographs add to
your view of what life was like.
be only satisfied with the local environment, it is interesting to find
out What taxes were payable? Who was King or Queen? (Would your ancestor
have actually even seen a picture of the Queen?). Who was Prime
Minister? Were we at war? What schooling was available? (many children
started work at 9 years of age right up to the end of the 19th century).
If nothing else, it makes History a much more interesting subject than I
can remember it being during my schooling years An interesting approach
is to list your own lifestyle, showing your job description, salary,
pastimes, food, holidays, means of transport, communication,
entertainments and clothing, and then trying to compare them with your
chosen ancestor. It is only when you begin to see how your ancestors
lived that you perhaps feel a little less dissatisfied with your own
on, get stuck into a hobby that is constantly maturing with you.
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