Has anyone investigated their family tree and found anything interesting?

(142 Posts)
IcouldstillbeJoseph Fri 14-Sep-12 12:51:03

I'm off sick and lying around watching rubbish daytime TV. Loads of those adverts for Ancestry.co.uk etc. It doesn't really interest me, but was wondering whether anyone has ever discovered anything interesting/significant in their family tree?

SaskiaRembrandtWasFramed Sun 16-Sep-12 11:08:45

"in 9 generations on my dad's side, only 4 mens names were used as both first and middle names, and 6 women's desite there being families with up to 11 children!"

I sympathise, my family do that too ... in one branch I have seven generations of Ralphs, which would be bad enough if it was a single Ralph per generation, but no, there are multiple cousins called Ralph for each generation. And they're all farmers in the same county hmm

mateysmum Sun 16-Sep-12 11:09:20

Another tip OP. Make sure you get organised. At this stage, probably not worth buying a family history program, but you will soon find yourself overwhelmed with info if you're not careful. Also, sometimes by organising material, a pattern of events emerges or questions are raised. for instance, I couldn't understand why one chap seemd to completely replace his family in between 2 censuses. I think discovered that his wife and 2 children had died of some nasty fever within a couple of weeks, so he had remarried and started again.

IAmSheWhoMustBeObeyed Sun 16-Sep-12 11:12:29

hmm yes it's a possibility I have considered but will never know. normally they were both miners!
I find it fascinating that with all of the Victorian horror and stigma over illegitimacy ( and into the 20th century) there were many many births out of wedlock, adopted children and unmarried couple just cohabiting.

IAmSheWhoMustBeObeyed Sun 16-Sep-12 11:13:55

Can anyone recommend a family history program?

HmmThinkingAboutIt Sun 16-Sep-12 11:16:55

Another tip OP. Make sure you get organised.

Hell yes. My mum has been doing family history since the mid 90s. I started doing it at christmas when it dawned on me she had it all in her head and no one else knew anything she had researched! She's driven me nuts with hundreds of bigs of paper and not remembering what her notes actually meant. You miss masses of clues by being disorganised and not spotting a pattern as my mum will testify from me picking through things and finding missing info and errors due to poor organisation.

Two other points about cost.
DO NOT BUY BIRTH/MARRIAGE/DEATH CERTIFICATES DIRECT FROM THE SUBSCRIPTION SITES!!! They are hugely overpriced. Buy them direct from the GRO records office - much much cheaper (usually about a tenner).

Same goes for any software. Even stuff thats compatible with ancestry. You can get it much cheaper from other places.

And don't just do your direct line; brothers and sisters are invaluable for clues for your direct line. Mothers maiden names as middle names are a particular favourite of mine for that.

McKayz Sun 16-Sep-12 11:21:53

My Dads great uncle was Hitler's right hand man and best friend. I found some long distance relatives who ran to Spain at the end of WW2. They've told me that they were each others best man and godfathers to their children. My Dads granddad moved here at some point between the wars as he met his wife while he was a merchant seaman.

Until I got married I had the same surname which made history at school interesting.

HmmThinkingAboutIt Sun 16-Sep-12 11:24:22

I use MacFamilyTree for my Mac. My mum is running Ancestry's Family Tree Maker on PC. Both are good and compatible with each other and Ancestry if you want to go down that route.

Both were about £20 on offer - Mine from apple store (downloaded version) and my Mum's was from Amazon (Note: there are a few versions available of Family Tree Maker - they vary in price due to the edition they are and that most of them come with a few months subscription to ancestry - you need to be careful when you are buying and consider whether you actually need a subscription especially the worldwide option). It is much cheaper to buy ancestry software from amazon than direct from ancestry... which peed me off no end.

ProphetOfDoom Sun 16-Sep-12 11:39:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Hulababy Sun 16-Sep-12 11:50:51

I'm currently looking at mine. My pils pay for ancestry so I have been using that. I need to get a family tree software though for if/when ancestry subscription finishes.

Only back to early 1800s so far but only started a week ago. It is quickly addictive though and 10y dd is fascinated.

Not much out of the ordinary yet although there seems to be a lot if very short pregnancies lol, 4 months from wedding to birth, hmmm! Loads of people with same names as all passed down making it confusing.

Currently looking at one strand and there is a possibility of a bigamist issue coming up - hmmm!

MadBusLady Sun 16-Sep-12 11:59:37

Oooh, Hecate's mystery Ggrandfather sounds exciting. I have one of those, though I think he only had two identities. No idea why. The false identity is really random too, it's Scottish sounding (and the guy was actually from Wiltshire, no known connection to Scotland). It was complete news to my mum that his name, and her mother's maiden surname, were not real.

And yes, ALL the trees on Ancestry and other subscription cites that other people have done should come with a huge, huge health warning. People just assume others are correct, and duplicate their mistakes in tree merges, and before long it looks like a "fact" because so many people have got it in their tree.

I've been doing genealogy since BEFORE THE INTERNET <gimmer> and it were different in moi day.

edam Sun 16-Sep-12 12:00:53

My Mother has a story about some ancestor gambling the family fortune away. And my Dad found a relative who cheeked the local squire's son - apparently refused to doff his cap, squire's son got all arsey, ended in a fight, relative had to jump on a ship bound for New York. I was quite impressed, only then he died in a fight in New York, so maybe he was just a bruiser rather than standing up for the rights of the common man.

Carriemoo Sun 16-Sep-12 12:02:18

I know my grandad was a survivor of auschwitz... I havent been able to find any futher records of his family as he wouldnt ever tell us anything about his life before he came to England.

I wouldnt even know where to start with cross border family trees.

Hulababy Sun 16-Sep-12 12:02:23

I'm currently looking at mine. My pils pay for ancestry so I have been using that. I need to get a family tree software though for if/when ancestry subscription finishes.

Only back to early 1800s so far but only started a week ago. It is quickly addictive though and 10y dd is fascinated. She lives that we know the name Of her great great great great great grandma!

Not much out of the ordinary yet although there seems to be a lot if very short pregnancies lol, 4 months from wedding to birth, hmmm! Loads of people with same names as all passed down making it confusing.

Currently looking at one strand and there is a possibility of a bigamist issue coming up - hmmm!

Also some very short men according to their ww1 records - just 5f4 and chest of 33 inch for eg.

MadBusLady Sun 16-Sep-12 12:08:25

Hmm The ancestry census transcriptions are full of errors - I hate using them.

Yy, why are they so poor? Have they had a computer read things? That's the only explanation I can think of for some of the wildly unlikely mistranscriptions there.

On the other hand, human error comes in too, especially when somebody is looking at an unfamiliar name. Presumably most transcriptions come ultimately from volunteers from the local FHS, and I've noticed they often mistranscribe out-of-area surnames that are less familiar to them, eg my Devonian GG-grandfather with a very typical Devon name was hopelessly mistranscribed in Staffordshire (someone read it as an Italian name!) Took me years to find him.

MadBusLady Sun 16-Sep-12 12:10:10

Iamshe
I find it fascinating that with all of the Victorian horror and stigma over illegitimacy ( and into the 20th century) there were many many births out of wedlock, adopted children and unmarried couple just cohabiting.

Same in my family. I guess it just goes to show that most of the shock-horror-stigma of that time was really about the ruling classes having a moral panic, while ordinary people got on with their lives.

Plus ca change smile

HmmThinkingAboutIt Sun 16-Sep-12 12:29:22

I think they are all done by hand as computers can't read the handwriting and because pages have faded.

The real issue is the way you can report/change bad transcriptions on each site when you do find them. They have a team to check bad transcription reports on findmypast but it doesn't seem to be the case for ancestry. Not to mention its not so obvious how you enter bad transcriptions on Ancestry as its not as user friendly. The system on findmypast is infinitely better imho.

I've reported bad ones on findmypast and had them changed to the correct info (though not all - they do check and have you have to met rules for changes), whereas ancestry you can only put an alternative and source for your information thus when you search they tend to come up lower in the results still even when they should be at the top which is frustrating, but just reminds you to check a couple of pages in search and not just the first.

Both have strengths and weaknesses as search engines. I do think bad transcriptions is one where ancestry falls down more though. Just not quite as well maintained/supported.

Nancy66 Sun 16-Sep-12 12:38:42

Yes! It's all very Downton Abbey.

My great great grandmother on my mum's side worked in service as a maid to a big, rich family. She got pregnant in 1900 (aged 19) by one of the sons of the house and.....he stuck by her and married her!

From their living circumstances it was clear he was disowned by his own family.

Turns out my gran did know the story (yet never mentioned it to any of us!) and she says that the rich bloke's mum used to make secret visits to them and take them food.

Sabriel Sun 16-Sep-12 12:45:11

Anneofcleavers, does your pirate captain have the initials IG?

The transcriptions on Ancestry were done in America, so a lot of the very odd errors that you look at and can see instantly what it should be they didn't have that local knowledge.

There is a Tree on ancestry that has been linked to mine (before I realised what people were doing and made it private). It is the same surname but 2 completely different families. I have contacted the owners of the tree 3 times pointing out why it's wrong (like "mother" was 73 when the last child was born, and there are gaps of less than 9 months between some of the children) but it's still there angry

DancehallDaze Sun 16-Sep-12 12:48:00

I prefer the Ancestry system as they allow all suggestions to stand alongside the first transcription. It just means that there are multiple index entries. Once you have found the original entry, you can use your own judgement as to what it says - but you have to be able to find it first!

The census is full of mistakes (apart from 1911 all we have is the enumerator's transcription anyway, not the original forms). I can look at an entry and know from my other research that, for instance, someone's surname is wrong, because the enumerator put 'ditto' for the whole household when one of the occupants actually had a different name. But FMP will only accept mistranscriptions, so they would reject that kind of information.

Nothing is going to change the original image. An index is merely a finding aid, and adding multiple interpretations to the index gives the user a better chance of finding what they seek. Multiple interpretations do not compromise the integrity of the original document.

MagdalenaAlec Sun 16-Sep-12 13:01:53

I am not an expert in the field, but my MIL is and she has dug some pretty good stuff, including the fact that she is a very distant cousin to both William and Kate (through an obscure scullery maid way back in the days)! So technically, this makes them related at some point shock

MmeGuillotine Sun 16-Sep-12 13:20:00

While trying to find out the link between my family and the ventriloquist Fred Russell, who was apparently a cousin of some sort, I found out that my great great great grandfather was a police sergeant in the Whitechapel H Division at the time of the Ripper murders in 1888. As I've been a Ripperologist since my early teens, I found this ENORMOUSLY exciting.

The other side of my family is rather grand but I find them infinitely less interesting than my East End ancestors.

redexpat Sun 16-Sep-12 13:24:45

All of my grandparents' families made it back from WW1. Not one of them died in the trenches. Then they were almost all wiped out by spanish flu.

And Gx5 grandmother was born aboard HMS Victory.

cheesesarnie Sun 16-Sep-12 13:27:41

my grandfather changed his religion to marry my nan and apparently my surname was used as an insult between catholics and protestants.

ChoccyJules Sun 16-Sep-12 15:57:59

Blimey, Local Archives Office was what I was going for, not Registry Office. Dozy me!

HecateHarshPants Sun 16-Sep-12 18:26:00

NotGeoffVader - wouldn't know where to start. I don't know who she is. Don't know who her father was. I only know that he married a canadian woman and her dad sent my great gran money. I only know that cos my great aunt used to work in the bank and she told me. Shocking lack of confidentiality! grin but no names and no records now. Apparently there were some letters, but when my grandma died, my grandad burned everything (he hated my great grandparents - long story, but they caused grandma a lot of hurt in her life)

The only thing I know is he claimed to be from a famous biscuit making family hmm one of the names he used was William Pride Crawford.

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