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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, but.......it 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?

Luckygirl Tue 05-May-20 10:31:46

Thanks for that info!

Chestnut Tue 05-May-20 09:33:47

Thanks for that Pittcity 👍
I will look up a few things but don't want a subscription as I've done 99.9% of my family history!

Pittcity Mon 04-May-20 08:25:03

Ancestry's UK records are FREE this week (4-10 May) to help celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day.🇬🇧

Callistemon Fri 01-May-20 18:19:23

Jillybird that's amazing and a story with a happy ending.

I have found a lot of mysteries on all sides of our family - some I solved and others remain mysteries!

Grammaretto Fri 01-May-20 16:50:30

Jillybird what an amazing story that is. How sad that your mother never knew half her family though presumably she was happy without this strange man in her life!

We have found and confirmed with DNA testing some illegitimacy covered up, in one case the baby was adopted by the girl's parents so was like her little brother and in another case, my DGF fathered a child but didn't marry the girl. I thus discovered quite recently that my DF had a halfsister . Did he know? (he died long before I could ask him) We met her daughter by chance and have since been able to share our stories but she still harbours some resentment on behalf of her mother and grandmother after over 100 years.

Grammaretto Fri 01-May-20 16:37:07

The Scottish records are not on Ancestry (although I know that the huge company is desperate to get their hands on all the Scottish records) so if you need to do much hunting here or in Ireland, then that is another consideration.
Incidentally Scottish BMD statutory records are very much better than English ones but they didn't begin until 1855.

Tracing ones family can be an absorbing hobby and very worthwhile.
I have met lots of great friends and family online.
Last year an American cousin wrote to me out of the blue and we met at our ancestors' village in Ireland where we spent a wonderful few days exploring and imagining their lives.

Jillybird Fri 01-May-20 15:56:14

Yes, I'm on Ancestry too. I had been searching for a very long time for my mother's side of the family. She believed she was illegitimate and that her father came to the hospital and said that if she had been a boy, he'd have owned her, but since she was a girl he didn't want her as he already had two daughters...

For her 70th birthday I went to the family records office as I don't believe Ancestry was operating in those days. I found her parents' marriage certificate. So then mum worried about what had happened to the other two daughters and why she hadn't been allowed to meet them...
Now, via Ancestry and DNA testing I have found not only the two daughters of my grandfather's first marriage, but another SIX from his third marriage! My mum is sadly long dead but I have actually met up with one of what must be my "half-aunt"s and a half-cousin, both of whom welcomed me with open arms and who live only 30 mins from me. I now count them as family! I was so touched when we discussed having an excellent sense of smell! My aunt was telling me what an acute sense of smell she had. I said, "So have I!" "Of course, you have," she replied, "You're practically my sister"!!! I loved that!

How my mother would have loved to know she had in total eight sisters!

yellowcanary Thu 30-Apr-20 21:56:01

I believe there is free access to Ancestry and Find my Past in most Welsh libraries, also accessible through libraries online even in this lockdown. I am a member of both now but have used them in the library before joining, and find it fascinating. Another member of the family has gone back to at least 1638.

I knew I had 4 cousins in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe but as my mother who used to be the writer to their mother had passed away we lost track of them - I found one of them on a message board on Ancestry as it happened just before they were coming over to the UK to visit their son, which enabled my father and the rest of us to be able to meet up with them which was marvellous. We are still in touch now - and have also met one of her sisters when she came over a few years ago.

CaroleLM16 Thu 30-Apr-20 19:56:32

That’s amazing! I started a Family history Fb page for my Dad’s side of the family two weeks ago and it’s been wonderful. I am now in touch with relatives I haven’t seen since I was a child or have never met. They are in the UK, Holland, The US and Australia. We’ve all been sharing photos and I saw the first ever photo of my late grandmother who died before I was born. I had done some family history research on findmypast.com,which I highly recommend, so I’ve been sharing that. Your story is absolutely brilliant.

Chestnut Thu 30-Apr-20 17:49:57

Registration of births, marriages and deaths started in 1837, so before that you have to search church registers. It is very easy to make a mistake especially with clusters of families with the same surname in the same area and forenames repeated. The child's date of birth is often not shown in church registers. It's sometimes not possible to identify births for certain, so I'm always a bit dubious when people say they've gone back hundreds of years. The chances of making an error is very high.

grumppa Thu 30-Apr-20 17:35:14

Haven't statisticians shown that we are all descended from Edward III? It's demonstrating the unbroken line that is the problem. On the same basis, I probably would be descended from Uther Pendragon, if he ever existed.

As to more recent history, I was able to find documentary evidence that a great uncle jumped ship, which seemed to confirm the family legend that he was involved in bootlegging during Prohibition.

paperbackbutterfly Thu 30-Apr-20 16:51:05

Yes I've gone back to 1751 using Ancestry on both mine and my husband's family. Ironically my great great grandma was a local lock keeper at the time when my husband's family were barge workers transporting goods in the same area. It's fascinating.

Hetty58 Thu 30-Apr-20 16:31:41

NannaLyn, we used 23 and Me for DNA research. It's very interesting with health information and lots of second cousins turned up (many in the US, simply because they do research family history and take DNA tests a lot over there). The results are updated frequently, too.

craftyone Thu 30-Apr-20 16:29:19

someone on my mothers side did all the donkey work and traced the family tree back to 1350, names and occupations. There was a loss of twin children to the plague and the ancestors were all farmers and then horticulturists, later bakers came into the line. Very interesting indeed. I have a huge modern extended family on her side

Chardy Thu 30-Apr-20 16:20:11

I've been putting together my family tree for nearly 40 years. I still spend hours online finding out all I can about the lives of distant, long-dead cousins, and where their children ended up.
In 2018, inspired by centenary, my son wanted to know about what his relatives did in WW1. It's not just births, marriages, deaths of grandparents, gt grandparents etc

GreenGran78 Thu 30-Apr-20 15:41:39

My cousins have done quite a lot of research on both sides of my family, but nothing at all exciting has come up.
I would love my adopted daughter to try to trace her mother, though. We were told that she was only 17, and engaged, when she fell pregnant. Her parents refused to accept the baby, somehow broke up the relationship, and forced her to part with her daughter.
I’m sure that her birth mother must have grieved for her, and longed for contact, but DD has no interest in finding her. It makes me sad.

NanaHev Thu 30-Apr-20 15:41:21

Genealogy has been my hobby for some years and I was found by a distant cousin who put me on to an amazing ancestor who came to England as a Protestant refugee around 1720 during a time of pandemics and world-wide famines due to global cooling in the 17th century; the after effects of which lasted for decades. I had an article printed about this ancestress in the Who Do You Think You Are mag and the whole line got researched and checked by a professional genealogist so I can be sure it is correct. A DNA test found me many cousins on many lines I have not had time to research yet but I think my dad was a very naughty boy or someone was! This is a fascinating hobby but you do have to be very open minded to have the DNA test done!

Floradora9 Thu 30-Apr-20 15:39:57

At the moment our library in Scotland gives free access to Ancestry which you can use at home . I had done my family tree but will have a look at census records as well .

Greta Thu 30-Apr-20 15:27:28

I've researched my family in Sweden. It is very easy because in Scandinavia you have free access to the National Archives; all you do is create an account and off you go.

There are census records every 10 years but also every year in the past a 'Household Examination' was carried out. Every household was visited. In these examinations you find all sorts of information relating to the members of a particular household. You can see if they could read, if they knew parts of the Bible, if they had attended church regularly etc. The people who carried out these examinations must have had quite a bit of licence because they often 'embroidered' the records. I have seen comments like ”family poor as church mice/husband drinks coffee but not beer/ mother owns a silk dress”. These examinations are historical and do no longer take place but they make fascinating reading.

Legs11 Thu 30-Apr-20 15:26:57

Check with your local library.
Mine in Cheshire gives us free access on their computers to Ancestry and Find my Past.
They are currently allowing library card holders to log in to them free from home during lockdown ...

Callistemon Thu 30-Apr-20 14:51:34

And some people changed their names for reasons unknown.

My maternal family changed the surname slightly but I doubt we will ever find out why now.

Callistemon Thu 30-Apr-20 14:49:26

I think even on original censuses, etc, records were misspelt because many people couldn't write so couldn't spell out family names for the recorder. Names were written down phonetically in many cases.

Added to that, some records have been transcribed overseas by people unfamiliar with some of our odder surnames.

Grammaretto Thu 30-Apr-20 14:45:27

When you apply to Ancestry to have your DNA tested, it comes with a warning that you may find something you don't want to hear,
My DH was a bit disappointed as he had done his family history for years and got right back to Robert the Bruce Adam and Eve with great reunions, loads of photos and exciting visits, however it turned out that in his branch, the person he thought was the father - wasn't. She was his second wife and 30 years younger so you can't really blame her. But now DH is a bit stuck.

GeorgyGirl Thu 30-Apr-20 14:43:14

I have found Ancestry can be unreliable, they tend to try and 'match up' and you can so easily be misled into the wrong family. Consequently I do not trust them as I think proof and authenticating records is key and in my own family researching they have proved to be 'linking' up names that are not part of my family, so I really would beware.

Chestnut Thu 30-Apr-20 14:25:49

As Lucy127 says, the enumerator who copied the names onto Ancestry may have misread the old handwriting and written Barker for Barter or anything else! You have to think of every possibility.
Also, back in the early 1800s they couldn't write, so surnames were often written down wrongly by someone. Later on the spelling was changed, so your current spelling may be different from the old spelling.