What's better: Genes Reunited, FindMyPast, or Ancestry?(17 Posts)
So I've got bitten by the genealogy bug. I'm currently on a two week free trial with FindMyPast and have found more than I could ever have hoped for, although much still needs to be confirmed with marriage certificates (already ordered from GRO).
On five branches of my mum's family I seem to have got back to the early 19th century, in other words, as early as I can go from census and public BMD records.
My dad's family is more problematic - just found out today my grandpa was sent to a workhouse in 1900 at the age of 11 after his mum died. His little bro was only 3 at the time, at least they were able to stay together . But it means the records before that are very fragmentary - the family was clearly very poor and had two of the most common surnames in that part of the UK (combined with common first names like George, Mary, Elizabeth, Sarah).
So, where do I go from here? Do I stay with a basic UK package from FindMy Past, which gives me only census and BMD records? A more comprehensive package gives me many things I don't think will be useful, like military records and sailing manifests. How useful/reliable are parish records with really poor families?
Ancestry and Genes Reunited both have a forum, don't they? Where you can post details of a family member and hope someone else has that person on their tree somewhere. How useful is that feature? I can't find a forum at all on FMP. How many relatives have you found this way?
Would it be worth trying out the 2 week trial with Ancestry? Is it different in any other way from FMP?
And one more thing - my paternal grandma seems to be invisible. I can't find a conclusive birth, marriage or death record for her, although I know her maiden name from my dad's birth cert, her first name because I'm named after her, and I know she died the year I was born. Despite this I'm either getting no hits at all if I give in every detail, or pages and pages and no way of distinguishing between them. Would my dad's full birth cert (1926) give more info about her? Could my relatives not have been a BIT more creative in the names they gave!
One final thing: I'm not in the UK, so this is strictly an online hobby - I can't just pop over to the places any of them were born or lived.
I've not tried the others but ancestry is fab an the app is very user friendly.
Thanks. Do you mean user friendly with searching or the software for putting a family tree together?
It does your tree for you, the searching part is essentially the same as the website. It's good because it makes links for you based on the info you put in for example if you put F Peters 13 02 1885 for a birthdate it often suggests a possible marriage or death for that person as well (obviously its not always right but sometimes it is).
For your grandma, I would order her marriage certificate. This will give her fathers name and occupation (your great-grandfather). Then search in the Census for him - this should give records for your grandma as a young child. This will allow you to check her name, age etc (in case the name you know is a nickname or middle name).
I would check out your local library and see whether they have a subscription to ancestry - many do in the West Midlands. If they do get find my past so you can search both - this helps if there have been transcription errors when searhcing meaning you can't find a person as their name has been adulterated.
Then use the forum rootschat rather than the forums on genes or ancestry
I have an Ancestry subscription. It is fab!
I have a full UK subscription to both ancestry and findmypast. Both have advantages and disadvantages (ancestry's "improved" search is crap; FMP access to British Newspapers saves you £79 in a separate subs) and sometimes you can find on one something missing from the other. Another helpful site is familysearch.org which is the mormon site. It is free and can fill in gaps.
I would say that parish records are invaluable for poor families (as all mine were).
Genes reunited I would avoid TBH. You can't verify that any of the information on there is correct, and it sends "hot matches" that aren't anything of the sort. ie I had about 10 "matches" for my mother where people had the same name, born in totally different parts of the country and anything up to 100 years earlier . The potential for following the wrong John Jenkins is huge.
Another useful site is lostcousins.com. You fill in your family details from the 1881 census (which is free on most sites) and then if someone else has already put in the same people you get the facility to contact them. I've met a number of 3rd cousins through that site.
You asked about forums. I have never had much luck with them because a lot are US based. You can get sites specific to the area you are searching, like sheffieldrecordsonline and the IoW FHS. They are far more use.
If you want to PM me your grandpa's details I can see if I can find anything for you.
Thanks for the replies. Based on the positive response for Ancestry here, I've taken out a free trial - my two weeks with FMP was just about up anyway so I've cancelled that. And I'm blown away by Ancestry - so much better than FMP because of the public family trees, the 'ancestry links' which automatically fills in those profiles, and the software really is great. I'm pretty sure as a consequence I will take out a full subscription with Ancestry alone, and then hope to fill in some gaps with the Mormon site as recommended by tallulah.
tallulah - you're right that the Ancestry forum is annoyingly US (from what I could see yesterday), and I don't seem to be able to limit the forum searches to just one county or country. However, there are separate topics for each county which I might look through at some point, and could even post there to cope with a brick wall.
"I would check out your local library and see whether they have a subscription to ancestry - many do in the West Midlands." - thanks for the tip, ivykaty, but since I don't live in the UK it doesn't really apply. I don't think our local library here go in for things like that.
The good news is that I have definitely located my grandma's family - not just that, I got a conclusive match with someone else's family tree which was extensively researched and know know all sorts about that branch. Best of all, I sent off a PM to the owner of that family tree and got a response today - we share great grandparents and thanks to him I have photos for them and a huge number of cousins (third cousins?) I didn't know existed.
I've sent a mail to one local history society and not had a reply yet - that would be a good source, I agree.
"in case the name you know is a nickname or middle name" - this is exactly what happened. My grandfather's surname was misspelled on the marriage index, and my grandma called herself only by her middle name on the 1911 census. I love the detective work that this involves!
Thanks for the offer to help tallulah, what I really need help with now is finding out more about my grandfather in the workhouse. It seems the workhouse records are stored in a local records office (in Wales) and are not online. There's no way I can get over to the UK right now. What do people do in this kind of case? I really want to find out if the younger boy really was his sibling, and why two further siblings were taken in by the maternal grandmother, but my grandpa was left to fend for himself.
One more thing: I ordered my first two certificates on 28 Feb directly from the GRO - two of my great-grandparents' marriage certs, which will obviously confirm their parents too. The dispatch date was estimated to be 8 March, so they should get here next week (it takes 5 days for pot to arrive from UK). Are the estimated dates at all realistic, or do they tend to be much more delayed in practice? From now on, I think I will have to order a lot more certificates in order to fill in the gaps, and that is going to be time-consuming - what a pity the GRO refuses to e-mail certificates too.
Thanks again for sharing your wide experience - this is turning into an overwhelming hobby!
marriage certificates confirm the father of the bride and groom, they do not give the mothers of the bride or groom. However sometimes witnesses maybe relations of the bride and groom - they could and did pick anyone they liked -so you may strike lucky and find other relatives on the marriage certificate
I use Ancestry. I also have the family tree maker software which gives a discount on ancestry.
"marriage certificates confirm the father of the bride and groom, they do not give the mothers of the bride or groom." - oh darn.
"I also have the family tree maker software which gives a discount on ancestry. "
I was wondering about that - the FTM software was a clear winner in the online review of products I looked at, but the problem seems to be that the Mac version is much more expensive (and I have a very recent version of the Mac OS platform which might well be incompatible) - and looking at reviews plenty of people were complaining of incompatibility, crashes etc, especially with FTM 2 for Mac.
The online software I'm using now (the one on the Ancestry site itself) seems to work fine - what's the advantage of actually buying the FTM software too? Is it the only way you can actually get the details on your hard drive, rather than stored online?
Nullius - look for a baptism record for the bride or groom if it is before 1837 otherwise see if you can find a birth vert or and census
I have the FTM, and I can work on it without being on line. I am not in the UK, and our public library does have a subscription for all the library subscribers to use for free.
I am always going on about DNA testing, but it is because it is about to find your family lines, and you get definitely related some who may have a large family history already, and willing to share.
I hit the roots message boards in the late 1990's with the small amount of info I had.
Distant relative noticed one of my rootweb messages and replied, connected me with her SIL, and she mailed me a large family tree.
I met many more relatives this way.
Sent away for every BMD registration available.
Flew out and met some family I never knew. Discovered even more family.
Finally, to confirm beyond any doubt, got brother to go make line DNA test, This confirmed who we are and our family tree.
Sorry, I had edited out a huge amount of stuff and didn't check carefully before sending the post.
"... but it is because it finds your family lines, and you get matches who definitely are related, some of whom may have a large family history already, and are willing to share. "
How did you organise the DNA stuff?
Hulababy Do you mean, how did we go about getting it done? I did it through FamilyTreeDNA.
Here is the link. www.familytreedna.com/products.aspx
I was not sure which test to order, so asked the man in charge of a surname group I belonged to, he said since I was most interested in my fathers line for my brother to do a y test, which is for the men in the family.
I will be able to upgrade the test to go the female side anytime, as they have enough DNA from the first test to do several more tests.
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