Gransnet forums


Have you traced your family tree?

(27 Posts)
Germanshepherdsmum Thu 14-Oct-21 11:22:23

The discussion about this week’s Who Do You Think You Are? showed that some posters have traced their families back some distance. Have you, and did you find any skeletons in cupboards or other interesting things? I’ve traced one line back to 1588, can’t get further there as the parish registers are missing. Have enjoyed finding that some weren’t averse to a bit of sex before marriage from the late 1500s through to early C20. Sadly nothing more interesting than that!

AGAA4 Thu 14-Oct-21 11:27:37

My brother has done ours and we have found our family in Australia, Italy and Ireland. Some very interesting characters have appeared.

Yangste1007 Thu 14-Oct-21 11:43:35

I've done ours using Ancestry and love dipping in and out. I've got back to about 1550 on one line. I've found one ancestor who was hanged, another deported to Australia. Both for crimes like persistent larceny. They were probably starving. Very amusing to find my extremely straight laced great grandmother got married in November and first son born the following February. New records are always being added and I find it fascinating to actually see their handwriting on the census records and maybe photos posted by others researching the same line.

Anniebach Thu 14-Oct-21 14:51:27

I have done mine and trees for several people. The most difficult is Wales because of the Welsh patronymic system
- ‘ap’ meaning son of etc.

Alegrias1 Thu 14-Oct-21 14:57:35

My family tree is a sorry tale of illiteracy and illegitimacy. The only link to any kind of aristocracy is an ancestor who had a child out of wedlock to the local landowner and died young.

I think we were the people you crossed the road to avoid. wink

I am, though, proud of every one of them for making it through tough times in rural Scotland.

Blossoming Thu 14-Oct-21 15:06:16

I found some fascinating stories, including a tale of incredible bravery getting people out of Nazi Germany. No royalty, thank heavens, working class through and through. I can’t unfortunately tell the aforementioned story as it can easily be found online and would be very outing. There are 2 authors and a motorcycle works rider and TT winner. Some have been involved in interesting engineering projects. Some sadly were lost very young in the bloodbath of The Great War. I love the social history aspect.

Sparklefizz Thu 14-Oct-21 15:36:58

My cousin and I found that our grandfather had had a second secret family on the other side of London and there were 2 children of that affair - one died in WW2, and the other married and emigrated to Australia, and we have made contact with their descendants in Victoria.

Also a female 2nd cousin became a member of SOE during WW2 and was parachuted into France. She was later captured, tortured and died at the hands of the SS, and is mentioned in a book Flames in the Field about female spies and the French Resistance.

Callistemon Thu 14-Oct-21 15:43:41

I've researched mine back to the 1500s and DH's back to the 1700s and found out some fascinating facts and interesting people.
I also solved some mysteries but found more puzzles - and wish I'd asked more questions, but my parents' generation seemed reluctant to talk about it for some reason.

Some emigrated in the mid-1800s but returned to England for some reason, others emigrated in the late 1800s early 1900s and there are connections/cousins in the Americas, Australia and New Zealand.

Zoejory Thu 14-Oct-21 15:55:43

Apparently if we're European and go back for enough, we're all descended from royalty!

Lexisgranny Thu 14-Oct-21 16:02:03

I think I would be the recipient of so very odd looks if I kept asking my grandchildren if they wanted to ask me any questions, but how I wish I had quizzed my own grandparents, and great-grandmother. Although I have got back to early 1700s, I would love to know the whys and wherefores, it’s like watching something in black and white when you could have technicolour.

Curlywhirly Thu 14-Oct-21 16:09:21

Researched my father's side and got back to 1700s. They were landowners/farmers from the Wirral and quite wealthy - don't know what happened to the wealth though, as my dad and his siblings were plain old working class. I also researched my Dad's mother's side and got to see my great grandfather's military records - his discipline record left a lot to be desired! Appears he was a bit of a troublemaker with plenty to say for himself. I have researched both sides of my husband's family, and quite a few of my friends' families too and only one was interesting - a relative who was a herbalist, buried 2 husbands, both dying from poisoning! But, it appears to have been accidental lead poisoning that killed them, and not one of their wife's concoctions ? but who knows? I would love to research my Italian Mum's family, but wouldn't really know where to start and although I can speak some Italian, I am by no means fluent.

Curlywhirly Thu 14-Oct-21 16:25:14

Oh I so agree Lexisgranny my Mum died when I was 32 and I had no interest in my family history. So wish I had asked her more about her childhood and her grandparents. Also wished I had asked her about her experiences in Italy during WW2; I don't ever remember her discussing any of it with us.

I have printed off all the information I have gathered whilst researching our families, so if our children should eventually become interested in their ancestry, it's all there for them.

Newquay Thu 14-Oct-21 17:26:07

My dear Dad died in his fifties and was at home on his own (Mum had to work) for some time. Why oh why didn’t I get him to write out his life story? So sad

BoadiceaJones Tue 19-Oct-21 01:05:25

I used to sit with my Granny (b.1889) in the evenings when I stayed with her as a young thing, while she chatted about her youth. How I wish I had written it all down, as my memory has big gaps now. Born into wealth, she had a nanny and a governess - she ratted on her governess after catching her smoking, and the poor woman was dismissed! She felt such guilt later in life about this. One of the housemaids had an illegitimate, stillborn baby, though no-one knew she was pregnant, and didn't know what to do with the body, so she cut it up and left it on the roof of the house. Poor girl, so very sad. Granny played the violin, beautifully, in an orchestra - I am lucky enough to have inherited her gorgeous, 18th century instrument, and was one of the first women in the South-West to drive a car. She used to drive her father out shooting, and I still have her linen dustcoat. She then joined the Red Cross when it looked as though war was about to be declared, and served as a VAD throughout the war, with Vera Britten in Malta for three and a half years. She met my grandfather, an English-born ANZAC, wounded at Gallipoli, and they "had an understanding". He was shipped back to NZ, suffering terrible wounds, and she joined him, sailing across the world by herself, in 1921. From the luxury of her father's Devon mansion, she went to live in a two-roomed pit-sawn shack in the mountains, on a 1500 acre sheep station, 26 miles from the nearest village, and accessible only up a stream bed and a clay road, perched 100 ft above a dangerous river. She carried her babies back from the nursing home where they were born, slung across the saddle, balanced by a sack of flour. She declared that these were the happiest years of her life. Such a romantic story, and I'm writing a book about her life. A wonderful woman, whom I loved dearly.

Chestnut Sat 30-Oct-21 09:52:11


My dear Dad died in his fifties and was at home on his own (Mum had to work) for some time. Why oh why didn’t I get him to write out his life story? So sad

I believe everyone should write their life story, and most people have time for this when they're older.

As for ancestors, I don't understand why everyone looks for Royal or aristocratic connections. Mine were all agricultural and then headed to the cities mid 1800s where they worked and lived in harsh and difficult conditions. I am so proud of them, managing to survive with limited job opportunities and no welfare state for support. The death of a spouse would create huge problems and the surviving parent had to somehow keep going. I have the greatest admiration for them all, and wouldn't swap them for a wealthy aristocrat who had none of those challenges to overcome.

henetha Sat 30-Oct-21 10:03:57

I did my dna earlier this year and found a first-cousin-once-removed living in Canada. She is a very keen genealogist and has found out all sorts of things about my ancestors for me.
My father's side were all Devonshire agricultural labourers or similar, and my mother's side is all Scottish going back generations.

Anniebach Sat 30-Oct-21 10:11:41

The 1921 census will be available 6th January , the 1931 was destroyed in a fire and there was no 1941 census.

Germanshepherdsmum Sat 30-Oct-21 10:21:16

I agree Chestnut. I wouldn’t expect to find royalty or aristocracy amongst my ancestors, who all worked on the land apart from a brief stint in London working on the railways then returned home again. They mostly had hard lives and little money. One many times great grandmother buried her husband and baptised her son on the same day in 1809 and never remarried. Her life and her children’s must have been grindingly poor.

Chestnut Sat 30-Oct-21 10:28:52

Anniebach I've been waiting for the 1921 census for the last 10 years! It is the last one I will be able to access, I won't make it to the 1951 census which is the next one. It will be expensive though, £3.50 per original and £2.50 per transcription. I think the 1911 started like that too, but eventually it will be available as part of your subscription. There is a fascinating film of how they did it here It involved a great deal of work, so I guess they need to claw back some of the expense.

BlueBelle Sat 30-Oct-21 10:38:45

Got back to late 1600 s on one side and 1700 s on the other
I did mine before the Internet so a long hard church/ library/ letter writing slog
Found lots of illegitimacy and poverty no one of royal or blue blood lots of fourth fifth six etc cousins all over the world mostly agricultural labourers
Lots of stories one great great aunt who heard her husband had another woman in Cornwall …Walked from east anglia to Cornwall found him (and her) and walked back I bet the path was covered in tears One great granddad was a bare knuckle boxer and started work with a carpenter so small he had to have a box to stand on He ended up climbing heights to put clocks and mend things on church spires no safety harnesses and hard hats in those days

BlueBelle Sat 30-Oct-21 10:39:39

I have a photo of him I should add

Yammy Sat 30-Oct-21 10:48:42

Yes, I have researched my family tree carrying on where my mother left off. I have found lots of interesting people nothing fantastic like royalty. Many stories to tell grandchildren. A very well known poet, an axe murderer, people linked to a large pottery firm.Boarder Reivers locked up in castles.
Someone who was deported to Australia for manslaughter. on one of the last boats.Plantation overseers in Maryland and the Caribean.
A great uncle killed in one of the last major battles of WW1 aged 18 and killed in late September before the November Armistice.
The sale of a farm with many acres and a whole family moving to another part of the county never found the will or why.
Then the usual farmworkers or coal miners, Irish immigrants before and after the potato famine. A great grandad who gave up a life of privilege to work with the early labour movement.
One of the best was finding a link with the first black policeman in England and how he had been brought from the Caribean then given his freedom. My SIL is very sceptical about "Who do you think you are". Though the photos and DNA matches both myself and relatives have I think have changed his mind.

Germanshepherdsmum Sat 30-Oct-21 10:52:44

I was very disappointed when I heard about the charges to access the 1921 census Annie, like you I have been really looking forward to it. I had a Find My Past subscription which I allowed to lapse and had thought of renewing it to see the 1921 census but subscribers will still have to pay for each record and just have a 10% discount. I fondly imagined that all the money they get from subscriptions would cover it but obviously not. What I have enjoyed doing with the censuses is not just finding family but seeing who their neighbours were and in effect following the enumerator through the village, but that would be prohibitively expensive. I wonder if ScotlandsPeople will charge more than they currently do on their pay per view system when the Scottish census comes out some time late next year I understand, as my husband has Scottish ancestors.

Germanshepherdsmum Sat 30-Oct-21 10:59:56

Ooh, an axe murderer Yammy! I’m not sure if I would want to find one of those or not!?. Perhaps if they were quite distantly related…. I had a drunkard who emigrated to Australia and married a barmaid, must have been a perfect match but sadly he died quite young and left her and their children destitute.

Yammy Sat 30-Oct-21 12:26:11

The axe murderer brought the axe home from the mine walked through the town and killed his wife, maybe I should be careful he was a relation of my husband.hmm