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genealogy, where do I start?

(66 Posts)
Catlover123 Sat 19-Jan-19 15:57:41

Hi, Having got a few dates and names I am keen to look into the history of my ancestors, my Grandmother was supposedly related to George Stephenson and so I want to see if there is a link. I have no idea where and how to start my online search, - any ideas please?

Grannybags Sat 19-Jan-19 16:18:59

I used Ancestry. Start with yourself and work backwards! Have fun grin

grannyactivist Sat 19-Jan-19 16:38:17

I think in your shoes I would start with a free search facility; If you get stuck and/or get the bug and decide you want to subscribe to a genealogy site then I agree with Grannybags that Ancestry would be a good idea. I also subscribe to Findmypast, but then this is my hobby and I use both sites a lot.

Anja Sat 19-Jan-19 16:53:39

I like Ancestry too. Don’t give up if at first you find it confusing.

Grandma2213 Sun 20-Jan-19 02:19:15

My DS bought me a subscription to Ancestry a few years ago as a gift. I found out lots of information but then it became expensive and I stopped subscribing. Though I could use it for free, information was harder to find. However they had a special offer after Christmas and I am back to being able to find out more and more details. This time I am being careful to write notes and say where I got the information eg Census, Birth Records etc as sometimes I couldn't find them when I went back! I particularly love finding out occupations.

As Grannybags says start with yourself and relatives you know well and work back. (You will find yourself drawn along some interesting lines though and sometimes move further away from close family!)

BradfordLass72 Sun 20-Jan-19 04:34:07

If you live near a Latter Day Saints (Mormon) church, ask them where their nearest family centre is.

They are endlessly helpful, don't charge (or didn't when I started doing it) have all the information on microfiche and will guide you through. And should you be worried about it - not once did they preach at me or proselytize.

M0nica Sun 20-Jan-19 08:33:20

There is also the Federtaion of Family History Societies.

Every county usually has its own Family History society, which usually has a library and group membership of the geneaology sites making them much cheaper to use. They will also run courses and have members who can help and advise you.

BRedhead59 Sun 20-Jan-19 09:35:05

I use Ancestry also - it's good and reliable. The whole exercise is hard work and takes years to do properly. Be careful about false leads.

Elegran Sun 20-Jan-19 09:41:23

Yes, false leads are a trap that is easy to fall into, particularly if you have a possible famous ancestor you want to link with. Make sure you establish each step before you move on (that should be move backwards!) If you leave something possible in your notes without marking it clearly as a maybe then when you look back at it months or even years from now you are likely to believe that it has been proved.

Belleringer Sun 20-Jan-19 09:48:49

I use (births, marriages, deaths) a lot.

Floradora9 Sun 20-Jan-19 09:50:43

I have said this before but Ancestry is not good for Scottish records. If you need them Scotlands People site is what you need but it is pay by record so can mount up . Some years ago I used genes reunited . If you put your family tree on there they match you up with any records from other people with the same ancestors. Through this I met someone who had gone the same route back as I had with my mother's family and we could exchange notes. It compleyely verified what I had and also comfirmed I was at the end of the line as far as records go . I told this lady lots of information about my branch of the family . Sadly after you year is up you have to pay again and I have never done so but will some day . If you are able and need Scottish Records you can spend a day at the Records Office in Edinburgh. Beware this becomes addictive tracing your family and some of the stories are really sad when you see all ther babies who have died and the people who ended up in the workhouse.

eGJ Sun 20-Jan-19 09:55:00

Ancestry is free at most libraries with access to the worldwide version too! You can email your finds home too, so you can decide whether to sign up and subscribe. Happy hunting!

Flowerofthewest Sun 20-Jan-19 10:01:08

Look up DC's ancestor Jonathan was an inventor who was in a legal battle with Stevenson. A lot of letters to and fro in archives at Truro museum.

FountainPen Sun 20-Jan-19 10:15:08

When famous people are involved you can be pretty certain a lot of groundwork has already been done.

On Ancestry, I can see that several people have already posted very large family trees for the Stephensons which includes George (1781- 1848) and his son Robert (1803-1859) and includes George's siblings, his father and his siblings.

You would still need to do the work to establish the link between your grandmother and this tree.

One of the things I like about Ancestry is that one can contact other people researching the same families which can be very helpful.

Skinnylizzie Sun 20-Jan-19 10:15:17

How interesting that this came up today, this morning I decided to get myself in gear and write a family history from my grandmothers 1910 - to my daughters for my granddaughters. It’s to show them not only our family history but how much has changed for women during that period. Wish me luck!

Hm999 Sun 20-Jan-19 10:17:57

FreeBMD will help with finding details of grandparents (find their marriage date, then their birth dates, then their parents marriage), and so onto their parents' details etc. And as its name says, it's free.

DotMH1901 Sun 20-Jan-19 10:38:59

I have an Ancestry subscription but reluctantly had to let my Findmypast one lapse as it was too expensive to have both. I have also done the Ancestry DNA test and found lots of (very) distantly related cousins through that but nothing to help my Menzies line brickwall! I have used the Scottish site but have been advised that the marriage and burials registers for the church at Durisdeer have been lost so have found it so difficult to find out how my ancestor came to be in the area in the 1750's. Lots of useful tips and advice on here, I would add that there are often dedicated groups at Rootsweb and also on Facebook for surnames, regions etc so might be worth joining these too - and they are free to join/use which is a bonus

MargaretinNorthant Sun 20-Jan-19 10:40:33

If you need help getting started please feel free to send me a private email. I've been doing Genealogy for 50 years and am currently wrestling with my Son-in-law's. I got back to pre-Norman times on one line, which was extremely lucky, mostly because of an unusual surname, but also because of the help of a good friend in London who could get to the National Archives.

Annaram1 Sun 20-Jan-19 11:03:53

My grandfather and his parents of Scottish ancestry were born in India in the 1800s. Although I tried to find them Ancestry did not have their records. My maternal grandmother was of Irish descent and Ancestry at the time I had the subscription did not have Irish records. Also, my mother's father who was English and fought in the first World War is not in the records. Apparently a lot of the records from that time were destroyed. I did find records from my father's mothers side and luckily found a lot of information going back about 300 years,

missdeke Sun 20-Jan-19 11:16:38

I used Findmypast as I didn't find there was much difference
between that and ancestry. I managed to go back to the 1500s on my Mum's English side and I also found out that I'm a fourth cousin of Reece Shearsmith, the actor who coincidentally was already an acquaintance of my daughter. It's a fantastic hobby to have but can become quite absorbing and time consuming,I agree with the poster who suggested making notes too, sometimes it is difficult to find some things again. I also downloaded copies of censuses (censi??) and birth, death and marriage notices. Good Luck.

Bisto Sun 20-Jan-19 11:29:35

Before you spend any money look at the free sites, there is FreeBMD, FreeCEN (Census returns - not complete, but growing) and FreeREG (mainly before 1837, but I’ve found more recent registrations on there. Keep everything on your own computer using a free version of something like RootsMagic, I use Family Historian which is excellent but they only do a free trial. Also look at Lost Cousins which is also free and you might be lucky enough to find a ‘cousin’ who can fill in a few gaps for you.

Bisto Sun 20-Jan-19 11:34:59

I forgot, there is also the GRO site, you have to register but it is free and you get the mother’s maiden name on the birth registrations. This is also the place to buy your certificates from, if you don’t need a ‘proper’ certificate you can get a PDF version which is cheaper.

mabon1 Sun 20-Jan-19 12:02:37

If the family lived in the same parish for some time start there. I went back to 1797 in one day from Parish records.

PennyWhistle Sun 20-Jan-19 12:12:43

I would also recommend joining a local Family History Society as these often provide help and support - as well as access to free research sites. Which county do your parents/grandparents come from?

M0nica Sun 20-Jan-19 12:13:25

Start with the census. These have been taken every 10 years since 1841 and all those up until 1911 have been released.

It is not flawless, each household was visited and their answers written down by an enumerator. This can lead to very strange spellings of names by the enumerator, then the very poor writing of some enumerators, leads to further mistakes by the Ancestry (and other) transcribers.

I also found that some households get missed. My family lived at the same address for about 50 years, yet in one census do not appear at that address or any other, although adult children who moved away to other addresses do.