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How far back can you trace your family tree?

(74 Posts)
chocolatemad24 Sat 26-Nov-16 22:41:17

After reading the thread about Danny Dyer on Who Do You Think You Are, it made me wonder how many people can actually trace their lineage back to Edward III. I have never traced my family, but would love to one day. Can any of you trace your family back to royalty or any historical figures?

lljkk Sun 27-Nov-16 12:02:45

If you can confirm English aristocracy in your line, then in theory you go back to William the Conquerer, although tracing the whole line may be impossible.

That I'm very sure about, I can go to about 1565 for me. Early 1700s for DH.

NapoleonsNose Sun 27-Nov-16 12:06:32

Generally back to the late 1700s, but one particular branch goes back to the 1400s. I'm 7th cousins to a famous English footballer and DH is very distantly related to Sarah Millican.

FrostyLeaves Sun 27-Nov-16 12:09:56

Get stuck in 1800s in England , can go back quite far in Scotland and records lost in Ireland.

Can only speculate on far off distant ancestors through surnames, some of which are quite informative. My roots appear to be as far from SEEngland and landowning Normans as a Brit can get so I fervently believe I am NOT a descendant of Edward III !

Loved Danny's programme as it was such a turn up for him.

chocolatemad24 Sun 27-Nov-16 12:10:22

Who is your husband's most recent royal ancestor Giddy?

lananzack Sun 27-Nov-16 12:11:17

How are you all tracing so far back?!
I got the 14 day free trial on Ancestry and got as far back as my grandparents' grandparents - only because my granny is also on ancestry and typed the info in so I could find it!
What am I doing wrong?!

lljkk Sun 27-Nov-16 12:16:16

How long have you been doing this, Lananz? My dad started in 1963. smile

FrostyLeaves Sun 27-Nov-16 12:18:20

Yes I started looking in the local library 30 years ago! Then other family members took over on the Internet searching.

lananzack Sun 27-Nov-16 12:23:36

I had a dabble at the thing a few years ago, and I nip on every now and then out of curiosity - to no particular avail.

My grandma has been tracing lineages for years, and I know she had gotten very far back... But I'm all, how?
Do you need to have particular info; surnames of long deceased relatives, etc? Because otherwise I'm buggered. I had a look through the census stuff, too, and didn't get any farther. I must be doing something wrong. Admittedly not brilliant with the Internet in any case blushgrin

Pidlan Sun 27-Nov-16 12:26:20

844! Managed to get back to 1600s which brought me to a famous Welsh baddie who could trace back to a Welsh prince.

FruitCider Sun 27-Nov-16 12:29:55

Early 1800's. For a yugoslavian Bosniak/Romany gypsy I think that's pretty good going, considering the amount of genocides in my history.

lljkk Sun 27-Nov-16 12:33:35

What happened to the info your Gran collected?
What elderly relatives do you have now that you could interview.
Try to document richness of lives passed, as well as going back in time about their ancestors. I find the stories about my grandparents dating quite fascinating.

In 1960s, My dad interviewed elderly relatives, wrote down as much detail as he could get. One of my cousins showed me a book she had inherited but not looked at carefully -- it traced some family back to 1800s. You just keep pushing & pushing I find. Now I have a bank of collaborators I can chat to online, too, about specific lines. Other challenge is sifting thru the rumours & untrue family stories to try to find actual evidence of who they really were & what they did. I have distant cousins determined to connect us to Royalty. Could be true. Could be bollux.

ohdearme1958 Sun 27-Nov-16 12:40:20

Has anyone ever come across the name Brothers as a forename?

I did and it's got me stumped.

WetsTheFinger Sun 27-Nov-16 12:45:28

Mine is tricky to trace as I'm a Jew descended from German and Polish Jews who didn't even have surnames for most of the time, let alone records! I love to do other people's histories though, Anglo Saxon folk are the easiest. I've traced friends ancestry back to mid 1700s.

SaagMasala Sun 27-Nov-16 12:45:49

ohdearme, it was probably used as a surname further back. It was quite common in some areas to remember the female line in this way. A bit like double-barrelled names now, though they weren't as formal with it.

SaagMasala Sun 27-Nov-16 12:55:45

As for the Q about how to get further back. Depends to some extent how common the surname is, and whether they moved around or tended to stay in the same place. Sometimes its a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle. My DH has a very very common surname yet we managed to get that line back to a chap born in 1777. I know his father's name but not much else (other than where he lived). This involved looking at all the baptisms, marriages & deaths in that area & piecing them together in families, using a very detailed local map that named all the farms & settlements, and then checking who was where on the censuses. Having a clutch of children with slightly less common first names helps, as does the tendency to reuse names between the generations.

If you are lucky enough to have ancestors born at the beginning of the 1800's in Northumberland or most of Durham, there is usually lots of additional family information recorded in the parish registers.

LumelaMme Sun 27-Nov-16 13:25:46

Late C16th (I tapped into someone else's research). The poshest line were millers and builders.

Famous relation? Del Boy. I kid you not.

PossumInAPearTree Sun 27-Nov-16 14:41:20 is good because if you find a relative who is already on someone else's family tree you can link into all their research.

SilverNightFairy Sun 27-Nov-16 14:48:30

I have been able to go back to mid 1600's on both sides of my family. I am a direct descendant of Rebecca Nurse (Nourse) the last woman hung in the Massachusetts witch trials.

dodobookends Sun 27-Nov-16 16:56:55

Iananzack You can't really do your research from Ancestry or the other online sources, you need to send away for actual birth, marriage and death certificates, and prove each generation backwards as you go. Otherwise you will end up barking up the wrong tree, literally! Marriage certificates are particularly useful as they have occupations and the fathers' names, and the names of witnesses are handy as they are usually relatives of one side or the other. If you are looking for a John Smith on the censuses you will have more luck if you know he was a watchmaker rather than an agricultural labourer, for instance, or that his father was called Harrington Emerson Smith.

FrostyLeaves Sun 27-Nov-16 17:06:49

I once spent a day at the records office in London looking up registration indexes then ordering certificates. Is that possible these days?

GiddyOnZackHunt Sun 27-Nov-16 17:56:37

Frosty you can used FreeBMD to look at the index for free and order certificates from the GRO online. FindMyPast actually has a lot of marriage certificates imaged so you can see them online which is quick smile
chocolate it meanders about so I'd need to check. He's 14th cousin to William and Harry in one I was looking at most recently.There are other links all over the place though as you follow an innocuous honourable who turns out to be a monarch's grand child.

LiefieLiefie Sun 27-Nov-16 18:31:04

My family are near impossible to trace as we have some of the most common surnames ever. My mum's side would also be near impossible, coming from rural Ireland. My Nan's birth wasn't registered in the 1920s, so not holding out much hope for earlier records grin

DH comes from one fairly famous family who have their own book, website etc so the tracing is already done for him. The other side have a very rare surname that is easy to trace back so far. I've just spent a quick 5 minutes doing it and got back to the 1600s without even doing any proper research.

throckenholt Sun 27-Nov-16 18:50:23

I have been doing mine for years. Earliest is a Frenchman born in 1599 who moved to Amsterdam.
Not a hint or royalty on any side, the closest to landed gentry are a few farmers (DH's not even my side) - most of mine are ag lab or shoemakers.
Still find it fascinating.

franke Sun 27-Nov-16 18:55:06

I managed to trace all four lines (grandparents) back to the mid 1700s. Then there's a gap and then picked up paternal gf family from 1500s - it's an unusual name and we lived in small villages so I know we are related. I hope to close the gap one day. The Church of Laterday Saints site is good for just finding early parish records.

roseteapot101 Sun 27-Nov-16 19:17:16

can trace about 100 years back our family worked together and formed a tree we got family all over.From uk to canada,to america to the netherlands

we have people in various jobs i think it was my grandfather worked for technicolour he was one of the people who worked on colour films that or another relative

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