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Family history

(86 Posts)
Luckygirl Wed 29-Apr-20 14:27:03

A friend subscribes to Ancestry and has been looking up some of my family history for me, as it was suggested to me that we might have recent African ancestry because of my Gran's skin colour and black curly hair. This has proved not to be the case, turns out that I have unknown relatives just a few miles from here - next village but one.

I was brought up hundreds of miles from here, but have lived in this county since 1974 and feel it is my real home.

Twenty odd years ago, when DD2 married, she really wanted sweet peas for her wedding bouquet in May, but it was a bit early for them. I put something in the parish mag asking if there were any good gardeners out there who might find a way of doing this and received a phone call from an old man living nearby. He did indeed manage to fulfil her wish and we were thrilled - it now turns out that he is related to us!!!! He has since died, so we cannot tell him this but I will try and track down his descendants, who all live nearby.

Has anyone else ever used Ancestry? Is it complicated?

Sar53 Thu 30-Apr-20 09:55:56

Ancestry is often free to use over a Bank Holiday weekend and there are often offers available.
I've been tracing my dad's side of the family and discovered that he had a half brother that neither knew about. Sadly neither are still alive and my great grandmother on my father's side was an unmarried mother.
Once you start looking it is very addictive and it is quite an easy site to use.

RosesAreRed21 Thu 30-Apr-20 09:56:03

WOW - that’s amazing

Chestnut Thu 30-Apr-20 10:01:34

It's definitely wiser to start with the more unusual surnames and leave the Smiths and Jones families until later, when you're more experienced!
Another tip is never to assume you've found the right person unless there is some more evidence. Census returns can usually provide this.
Always order your ancestors' birth and marriage certificates as they can give vital information, but order those which have information you really need first because they are quite expensive. Death certificates sometimes help but are not always essential. You need the reference details (from Ancestry) to order them here:
General Register Office

Hetty58 Thu 30-Apr-20 10:01:35

In usual/normal times, Ancestry is available in UK libraries, free of charge. There's often somebody around to help, too.

Perhaps it's something to look forward to - next year.

Jess20 Thu 30-Apr-20 10:07:04

Yes, both I my birth mother and I were adopted, and she died very young, leaving no other decendents. My son recently sent off to Ancestry. We joked about finding long lost relatives, and within a few weeks we did.

The missing details of my history have been filled in, and we have a lovely new branch to the family. For many years, unknown to us, we had even lived in the same small area of London.

Purpledaffodil Thu 30-Apr-20 10:14:00

I did the DNA testing first and was quite cynical until they matched me with my cousin’s daughter. She has been doing the tree for several years and found a well known theatrical dame on my mother’s side which was exciting! Not that I would rush to claim kinship; my great grandmother was her great aunt! Hardly close ! 😀

Jani31 Thu 30-Apr-20 10:15:01

On finding my late DH tree, other members had been wrongly put into his Dad's family from another branch. Probably cousins or a mistake with great grandma's parents. Worth looking up the ship manifests as one child born in Birmingham when I know they were living in Illinois 🤔 A few skeletons also found in my family, people being born a month after wedlock, and next year the 1921 Census should be released ❤

mittenma Thu 30-Apr-20 10:20:00

I have had an Ancestry subscription for years and had some very interesting finds. However, I was adopted as a baby, back in 1948 when information about the father of an illegitimate child was hidden, I had given up on ever finding out much about my father. When I had my session with the social worker in 1975 when the passing of The Childrens Act allowed me to apply for a copy of my original birth certificate, as I left the meeting, she announced "your father was a Polish airman"! I spent the intervening years attempting to find out more, but to no avail. In 2018 I was given a DNA test for my birthday and discovered someone had a DNA that suggested he was a first cousin. So 70 years after I was born, I discovered that his uncle was my father. No he wasn't Polish but was eventually an Air Commodore in the RAF! There seems to be no end to what the records hide or what might be revealed by a DNA test!

Luckygirl Thu 30-Apr-20 10:29:15

I think I might give this a go - it all sounds fascinating!

missdeke Thu 30-Apr-20 10:43:38

I use Find my Past and find it an all absorbing hobby. I have managed to go back to the mid to late 16th century on 2 branches of my family. Thank goodness for unusual surnames.

Maggieanne Thu 30-Apr-20 10:50:22

I've been trying to find out my fathers real dad, and through DNA I think I might have found him! Please don't think that other family trees that you see are correct, many people just take the first names that look right and that will totally give you the wrong information.
I found my dads family on a tree in America, someone had put all my uncles on their tree and given them American ancestry, according to this person they were all born, lived and died in America. So annoying, and the first time I saw this tree it seems that my gran had been married dozens of times, all over the world and had umpteen children, sometimes two in one year, in different countries. I did contact this person who then changed the obviously ridiculous "facts" but as yet, he hasn't removed the rest of my family, so frustrating.

Essex59 Thu 30-Apr-20 10:57:05

I use Ancestry and it's very easy to use, I have some unusual surnames in my family so that made things fairly easy. I have made contact with a few people that I am related to, in fact I have met some and become good friends with them.
As for the black hair and darker skin colour, we have that in my family, turns out that some of my paternal ancestors were Roma Gypsies. Good luck with your research, I'm sure you will find some fascinating stories.

Foxyferret Thu 30-Apr-20 11:01:24

I found a relative way back called Rosie. She was taken to court and fined for being “drunk in charge of a cart”. Hilarious, explains a lot about my family.

seadragon Thu 30-Apr-20 11:03:32

My dad had a very dark, and handsome(!), look - think Larry Olivier/Gregory Peck. I have often wondered about his family's ethnicity. He never spoke about them although I did meet an aunt and a cousin who had equally dark and strong features. My sister, daughter and granddaughter have inherited some of these features but I am more Celtic in appearance, especially the freckled, fair skin, though sadly, no glorious red hair like my son, gran and uncle.... I have always felt a strong connection with Russan culture and Orkney where I now live. Consequently I would be disappointed to find through research that I had no genetic connection and totally understood Si King's disappointment when he discovered he was not descended from a Viking especially as Dave found out that he was!! I'm both tempted and wary of the DNA test as I have seen the question raised about how your DNA information may be used nefariously.... to the point that I have even hesitated to send off my DNA to a Kings Fund mental health research project. What do others think?

Anniebach Thu 30-Apr-20 11:07:36

Last year I was asked to do a family tree for someone whose
father was born in Ireland, the person who asked me only knew his fathers name and he was born in Ireland.

Ireland records can be difficult, many were lost in a fire.

I found his paternal grandparents had moved to England and
where they were buried. I found he had a half sister and they
met last year. I was thrilled.

Gwenisgreat1 Thu 30-Apr-20 11:12:22

I did try a few years ago. I was trying to find out about my grandmother - maiden name Sarah Jones, who married Hugh Jones!!! There were about 10,000 Joneses all born in the same year, most living in the same village - I gave up!!

Juliet27 Thu 30-Apr-20 11:14:19

I did the DNA test and it came up with the daughter of a cousin. I only met the cousin a couple of times as a child and her daughter was here to settle her mum in a care home and was then going back to Australia where she's lived for 30 years. It turns out that she lives just a few miles from where my son lives in Australia.

Nannan2 Thu 30-Apr-20 11:40:29

Oh Luckygirl,let us know how you get on..everyone asks my son if hes related to a certain prime minister from the past too,but i dont want to blurt it now on here,grini wonder if your related? Its through his dads side,as i know his paternal grandad had brother/or brothers but dont know much else.Dont really want to mess about with an ancestry site though,but i do know theres a coat of arms for his surname.

Nannan2 Thu 30-Apr-20 11:48:58

Thanks for the info Hetty58,i might try that when things are back to normal,as ive lost touch with one or two relatives over the years.

Nannan2 Thu 30-Apr-20 12:00:27

Yes certificates are now VERY expensive,i looked up my own divorce papers on the register (for births,deaths,marriages,divorces,on gov't website) as i had mislaid mine in cupboard somewheregrin and son needed it for student finance for his university grant/loan..i was only going back about 15 years but it was well over a hundred pounds, as i didnt have the 'case number' (yet with a case number about a tenner!) So theres a huge difference! So, instead, 3 days of much searching in old boxes ensued,resulting in finding of needed papersgrin and son got his student finance sorted!smile But imagine how much it could cost to get old records for some searches

Riggie Thu 30-Apr-20 12:19:18

I am fed up of an in law telling me she is back to royalty. All she has done is accept every hint on one of the sites. Not one bit of it is her own research

Callistemon Thu 30-Apr-20 12:26:50

Riggie I am descended from Anne Boleyn. Someone in America with about 57,000 people in her tree has linked us both back.
Never mind the fact that Anne Boleyn didn't have any grandchildren.

Just curtsey please.

Alishka Thu 30-Apr-20 12:31:12

An uncle, now dec'd, traced our family through Ancestry. It was, as I thought, b. boringgrin
Seems that the only person in the family who ever did anything remotely adventurous was....ME!
Always knew I was the cuckoo in the nestgringringrin

Grammaretto Thu 30-Apr-20 12:32:33

Like others I have "done" my family tree but had my DNA tested just recently and after a flurry of cousins turning up, some of whom I already know, it has gone rather quiet.

I did find it a thrill though to discover, or rather affirm, some family stories and find that what I guessed had been a Jewish gt grandfather, really was.

I'm sure you won't find it hard Luckygirl and anything that relieves the coronaboredom is worth it.

I have a subscription to Ancestry if anyone wants a lookup?

Callistemon Thu 30-Apr-20 12:33:43

I was surprised at the interesting things I found out about both sides of the family, DH's and mine.
Some were very adventurous and emigrated far and wide, others just moved around Britain.