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  • FIRST POST
    • first78
    • By first78 28th Apr 19, 1:43 PM
    • 916Posts
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    first78
    How to research family tree?
    • #1
    • 28th Apr 19, 1:43 PM
    How to research family tree? 28th Apr 19 at 1:43 PM
    My Dad passed away last month and I want to research his family tree but have no idea where to start. I have two names of family members from before 1940 but using free sites that help you trace your family's tree haven't helped and I don't know what else to try. Can anyone with a bit more experience give me any advice please?
Page 1
    • Grumpelstiltskin
    • By Grumpelstiltskin 28th Apr 19, 1:50 PM
    • 2,530 Posts
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    Grumpelstiltskin
    • #2
    • 28th Apr 19, 1:50 PM
    • #2
    • 28th Apr 19, 1:50 PM
    Which country are you looking at? I ask because it is different in Scotland and Ireland to England and Wales.

    Let us know the answer to that then we can advise you.
    • TonyMMM
    • By TonyMMM 28th Apr 19, 1:55 PM
    • 2,952 Posts
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    TonyMMM
    • #3
    • 28th Apr 19, 1:55 PM
    • #3
    • 28th Apr 19, 1:55 PM
    Start with a copy of your father's birth certificate and work back methodically from there .... look for his parent's marriage and then their births etc.
    • first78
    • By first78 28th Apr 19, 1:57 PM
    • 916 Posts
    • 406 Thanks
    first78
    • #4
    • 28th Apr 19, 1:57 PM
    • #4
    • 28th Apr 19, 1:57 PM
    Which country are you looking at? I ask because it is different in Scotland and Ireland to England and Wales.

    Let us know the answer to that then we can advise you.
    Originally posted by Grumpelstiltskin
    Sorry, I'm in England.
    • first78
    • By first78 28th Apr 19, 1:58 PM
    • 916 Posts
    • 406 Thanks
    first78
    • #5
    • 28th Apr 19, 1:58 PM
    • #5
    • 28th Apr 19, 1:58 PM
    Start with a copy of your father's birth certificate and work back methodically from there .... look for his parent's marriage and then their births etc.
    Originally posted by TonyMMM
    Sorry if this is a silly question, but how do I get a copy of my Dad's birth certificate?
    • Grumpelstiltskin
    • By Grumpelstiltskin 28th Apr 19, 2:40 PM
    • 2,530 Posts
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    Grumpelstiltskin
    • #6
    • 28th Apr 19, 2:40 PM
    • #6
    • 28th Apr 19, 2:40 PM
    OK England then.

    Many libraries have free access to Ancestry. Co. Uk.

    That plus Find My Past are the most comprehensive family history sites but they are not cheap to subscribe to, so if you can get to the library the free access is the best way to start.


    Don't believe the TV adverts where everything just appears as by magic, it isn't that easy.

    The birth certificate is easy to obtain but you do have to pay for it.

    This is the link.
    https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/
    • TonyMMM
    • By TonyMMM 28th Apr 19, 2:41 PM
    • 2,952 Posts
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    TonyMMM
    • #7
    • 28th Apr 19, 2:41 PM
    • #7
    • 28th Apr 19, 2:41 PM
    Sorry if this is a silly question, but how do I get a copy of my Dad's birth certificate?
    Originally posted by first78
    If you can't find one amongst his papers...

    Use https://www.freebmd.org.uk/ to find the reference number and then order a copy from here:

    https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/default.asp
    • first78
    • By first78 28th Apr 19, 4:51 PM
    • 916 Posts
    • 406 Thanks
    first78
    • #8
    • 28th Apr 19, 4:51 PM
    • #8
    • 28th Apr 19, 4:51 PM
    If you can't find one amongst his papers...

    Use https://www.freebmd.org.uk/ to find the reference number and then order a copy from here:

    https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/default.asp
    Originally posted by TonyMMM
    I've tried searching on the first link but it doesn't come up with a match.
    • sheramber
    • By sheramber 28th Apr 19, 4:55 PM
    • 7,146 Posts
    • 5,407 Thanks
    sheramber
    • #9
    • 28th Apr 19, 4:55 PM
    • #9
    • 28th Apr 19, 4:55 PM
    You will probably need to use Ancestry.co.uk.

    You can get a free trial but, if you do not wish to take out a subscription , make sure you cancel it before the end of the trial period so that you are not charged.

    you may not need his birth certificate.
    If you go on the website you will see what information you require and whether you know it or need to get his birth certificate.

    Once you get a hit for him you will be able to trace his parents, grandparents etc in the same way. One generation at a time.

    Be aware it become addictive.
    • johnsmith1890
    • By johnsmith1890 28th Apr 19, 5:01 PM
    • 558 Posts
    • 456 Thanks
    johnsmith1890
    FindMyPast also used to do a free trial. Not sure if they still do. Anyone know?
    • johnsmith1890
    • By johnsmith1890 28th Apr 19, 5:05 PM
    • 558 Posts
    • 456 Thanks
    johnsmith1890
    I've tried searching on the first link but it doesn't come up with a match.
    Originally posted by first78

    Even without a ref. no. you can send a request to the GRO with as much information as possible (place of birth, date of birth and so on) and they should be able to find the certificate. For FreeBMD, try spelling variants of your Dad's Christian name and surname. Sometimes the transcribers make minor spelling errors.
    • HeyerFan
    • By HeyerFan 30th Apr 19, 10:11 PM
    • 922 Posts
    • 47,436 Thanks
    HeyerFan
    I found it was a good idea to set up a family tree on Ancestry (your tree can be public or private). Even if you don’t have a subscription Ancestry has 2-3 free weekends a year. Having as much information as possible (obtain from free sites such as FreeBMD, FreeCEN, FamilySearch and Library Ancestry/Find My Past) on your tree will give you hints which you can look up on these free days (usually these take place on long bank holiday weekends or around Armistice Day - If you are a member but not a subscriber you will get an email about these offers). Also having a tree will mean that you can attach records (ie. sources) to ancestors. Please note that any records you may want to revisit/look at again should be downloaded externally of Ancestry or FMP, as once your free period or subscription ends you will no longer be able to view the record(s).

    FreeBMD is a very good website and you can check the box to search names phonetically and use wildcards - See https://www.freebmd.org.uk/search-help.shtml
    For a common surname you can restrict the number of entries that are returned by specifying a county or registration district.

    Once you can get back to Census records (which will give you relationships between the household members) you will find your research much easier. Whilst mother’s maiden name does not appear on the birth indices before 1911 you can now look at the General Register Office’s Historic Index online (for free) and identify the mother of a child back to when registration began in 1837. This is very useful in identifying the correct marriage and means you don’t have to pay out for birth certificates unless you wish to. This same index will give you death age (also back to 1837] useful with common surnames and members of family when a Christian name was used for father and son.
    • klew356
    • By klew356 1st May 19, 9:47 AM
    • 642 Posts
    • 3,018 Thanks
    klew356
    this is def something i want to start exploring so following this post for information
    • Grumpelstiltskin
    • By Grumpelstiltskin 1st May 19, 9:58 AM
    • 2,530 Posts
    • 2,907 Thanks
    Grumpelstiltskin
    Family history can be addictive, but it isn't always easy.

    I honestly say don't jump in all guns blazing spending money on a subscription. if you are not experienced that's why I say start with free library access.

    First of all though start with yourself and work backwards, don't accept what family have told you, sometimes it is correct, sometimes there can be some truth and other times it is totally wrong.


    Always check everything yourself and what ever you do jump on a family tree on Ancestry, they are not checked and often one person makes a mistake and others just copy it.
    • Mojisola
    • By Mojisola 1st May 19, 10:36 AM
    • 31,695 Posts
    • 81,229 Thanks
    Mojisola
    www.rootschat.com/forum/index.php is a very good free site with lots of helpful people willing to advise beginners.
    • Carol3148
    • By Carol3148 1st May 19, 10:55 AM
    • 1 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    Carol3148
    Just one word of warning, do make sure you order any certificates through the GRO link given above - don't be tempted to order through Ancestry or Find My Past - it may seem like an easy option, but they will charge you way over the price that GRO charges. Good luck.
    • newwiseman
    • By newwiseman 1st May 19, 11:21 AM
    • 16 Posts
    • 4 Thanks
    newwiseman
    My local library was extremely helpful with advice and provides free use of their computer terminals to access various sites that may provide the information you need. It will involve quite a few hours trawling through documents on different sites so if you have the time, go for it. It is rather like being a detective looking for clues leading to further leads, and being prepared for the frustration of dead ends. I have only just started and found you need a great deal of time and patience.
    • DigForVictory
    • By DigForVictory 1st May 19, 12:52 PM
    • 10,416 Posts
    • 36,697 Thanks
    DigForVictory
    I'm sorry you're bereaved, but you have found one of the most addictive hobbies to help full the gap. Potentially heartbreaking, but riveting stuff.

    Any remaining breathing relatives should be plied with tea & cake and interrogated (Gently!). If you haven't had a funeral yet, it is a solid gold opportunity to get family together & jot down their version as they recall if of the family tree.

    If you have, then were there any vintage folk who couldn't make it on health grounds? Visit them? Just to hear stories of Dad that are new to you & for them to run an eye over what you have & say "oh yes & she had another boy but he died young, or ran away & joined the army or emigrated to New Zealand" - the possibilities are endless & hair raising.

    I'd agree don't buy even a single years membership until you can put together a basic tree but then use that not paying status to get free weekends and add people.

    Incidentally, it's been a godsend at the hospital where only 3 visitors are allowed at once - I sit using the free wifi & chase ancestors while my mother in law recovers & dotes on her son & sundry grandsons.
    • harrys nan
    • By harrys nan 1st May 19, 6:29 PM
    • 1,630 Posts
    • 3,238 Thanks
    harrys nan
    https://www.ancestry.co.uk/cs/offers/freetrial/

    To start a tree off,
    Put your own name in first, then your dad and your mum, ( use the female maiden name if you know then ) add any grandparents that you know the name. You will find that Ancestry comes up with hints for people, just make sure they are the people from your family. My family, both sides seem to use a very small selection of names so it can be hard making sure I have the right people
    I have just had my (my daughters) DNA done and have been in contact with a few relations I knew nothing about.
    It will get addictive no question about it
    Have fun
    Treat other's how you like to be treated.

    Harry born 23/09/2008
    New baby grandson, Louie born 28/06/2012,
    Proud nanny to two beautiful boys
    And now I have the joy of having my foster granddaughter becoming my real granddaughter. Can't ask for anything better

    UPDATE,
    As of today 180919. my granddaughter is now my official granddaughter, adoption finally granted
    • trailingspouse
    • By trailingspouse 2nd May 19, 6:57 AM
    • 3,839 Posts
    • 7,416 Thanks
    trailingspouse
    My cousin sent me a link to ancestry.co.uk and I started to research my family tree over coffee. 12 years later, and with 11,000 people in the tree, I'm still at it!!! You have been warned...


    Start with what you know - father's name and dob and place of birth (you don't need a birth certificate), mother's ditto. Do you know the names of your grandparents? Any snippet of info is useful - occupation, what they did in the war, names of siblings, where did they get married. And a rough date of birth ('she was born between the wars') is better than nothing. Agree with a previous poster, family stories often turn out not to be true - but equally there's often a grain of truth in them.

    If your relatives have popular/common names, it's a bit more difficult - but having date and place of birth will allow you to narrow things down a bit. You need to be methodical, and every bit of information you find will allow you to find another bit. For example, finding someone's birth record will provide (for more recent births) the mother's maiden name. With the full names of both parents you can find their marriage, and you can also find the names of other children born to the same parents. If you have the names of both parents, you can find their birth records, and so on. Once you get back to 1911 (the latest census to be available - not long now until 1921 comes out!!) things get a bit easier. There was also a sort of census conducted in 1939 which is now available (it's been redacted to remove anyone who is still alive now, but useful nevertheless).
    Please feel free to PM me if you've hit a roadblock and I'll see if I can help.
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