decision to be made when deciding how to begin tracing your family
tree is what will be the scope of your research.
you be concentrating on one surname and follow this back as far as
you can go, or are you going to attempt to trace back all your ancestral
lines, both male and female, to a particular generation.
When you are clear about your aims and before you start looking into
the records available, it is a good idea to write down everything
you or your relatives know about your common ancestors.
It should be remembered that memories can play tricks on people and
all the information you collect (especially that on events or people
from a long time ago) should not be taken as fact and should be checked
against records whenever possible.
Also ask your relatives for copies of any documents which may throw
additional light on your family history. These may act as a check
for the oral information you have already received.
you have collected and compiled this information you can decide where
you want to begin and from this point work your way methodically back
in time, generation by generation.
To do this you will need to
consult the two major resources which everyone doing genealogical
England normally begin with.
These are the census and the certificates.
The census is useful if you
can already trace an ancestor back into the 19th century and have
a specific address or the name of a village where they may have lived
or been born. If so you can look at the census record at the nearest
date for that location and with luck pinpoint your ancestor or their
the census recorded the relationships of people living at a particular
address on a particular day and also (except in 1841) their age and
places of birth it is possible to use it to find the next generation
back and places and approximate years of birth.
the census page for more
detailed information on when it was taken and what each census contained.
If you cannot at first trace
an ancestor back as far as the 19th century then you will need the
genealogists second major resource: the birth, marriage and death
These were first recorded
on a national level in July 1837 and are available right up until
the present day. Because the birth certificate gives the parents'
names and the mother's maiden name and the marriage certificate gives
the names of both fathers they can also be used to find the next generation
See the certificates
page for more detailed information on the different certificates and
what they contain.
Before 1837 parish records
were kept by churches and recorded the baptisms, marriages and burials
which took place there.
not compiled on a national level or in a standard format they are
invaluable in tracing ancestors back into the 17th century and beyond.
If you are lucky these records can go all the way back to 1538 for
a very few parishes. As with the other certificates they can be used
to find out the names of the previous generation.
page for more detailed information on the parish registers and what
this point your research will branch out into the multitude of other
records available and will now depend on the life of each individual
ancestor. Their social status, occupation or religion will all play
a role in which records are then available for further research. A
good quality genealogical book will point you in the right direction.
piece of advice that I found helpful in my own research and saved
me a lot of wasted time following wrong clues is to always check your
information. Remember the information on CD-ROMs and posted on the
internet is often a transcription and therefore prone to errors. If
possible check the original documents (if you have the luxury of time
and money) and remember that even these must be checked against other
documents. Any fact should only be seen as proven when at least two
independent documents confirm it.
that is left to say now is good luck in your research and hopefully
this website helps you along the way.