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Just started out on Ancestry, any tips

(5 Posts)
noidles Thu 20-Jun-13 12:00:38

So I've just signed up to because I've always felt that my family name was quite unique and it would be interesting and fairly easy to trace back. So far I've been right and I've been able to trace back on my father's side up to as early as 1803, but I realise now that birth records and census records don't really go prior to that.

What are your tips? I also noticed on another thread that someone had said they'd been able to get really detailed research into how their ancestors lived. And I think that's what I'd be quite interested to do, and do you have any tips on how I might best go about doing that?


mumofapirate Sun 23-Jun-13 19:26:01

I started last week and got back to 1790s from the census it says my 4th great grandfather was a farmer and had servents. My aunty bought alot of death records as it shows cause of death which I can't seem to find online. I found using the hints where it says "other ppl also searching for *" often helped as it sometimes showed more info about them. census have alot of addresses on so I used google to find photos etc of where they lived. its addictive so don't go on late or It will be 4am before you know it shock

Brillig Sun 23-Jun-13 19:39:04

Yes, it can be quite useful to contact other people who are researching the same family member. I've found several people I'm distantly related to that way.

I have a photo (an old ambrotype -19thc) of my great-great grandmother, born in the 1830’s), and it turned out that she's in lots of other trees...she was one of numerous children and she had about 11 of her own, so you can imagine the number of descendants. One of the people I got in touch with had never seen that photo before and was thrilled to see an actual picture of her, so you may well strike lucky with that sort of thing.

I've got back to the 17th c from looking at other trees and carefully sifting the info. Of course there's always the risk that some facts aren't totally reliable, but it does give you some leads. If you're really serious, you can go back to parish records (which record births, marriages & deaths pre-1837, when registration began).

Good luck, it's absolutely fascinating and yes, a potentially massive time-waster!

mrstowers Tue 02-Jul-13 14:16:01

Do not take info from other trees unless they have recorded evidence that the information is correct. There are an awful lot of trees with incorrect information on them. Try for old parish registers.

DodgyKnees Sat 06-Jul-13 20:36:41

mrstowers is absolutely right. Check that dates are realistic and place names, too. People quite often copy information off other trees without thinking - you get an awful lot of people supposedly born in America, when actually it's a place of the same name in the UK.

Be wary of transcription errors if you can't find a person of the right name - some of the people transcribing records (it's all done manually - you can volunteer to help) aren't great at reading 19th century handwriting.

If you end up looking for living relatives, try the trick of looking up births by surname, but also put in mother's maiden name. These were recorded after about 1910. That way, you can trace births after the 1911 census.

I think you need to go beyond Ancestry to find out how your ancestors may have lived. It's all about occupation and context, which the records don't usually elaborate upon.

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