Genealogical and historical information and links for anyone researching their ancestors in England and the British Isles

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As the last millenium drew to a close I was looking at my past and the events which had brought me to where I was in my life and with the aim of bringing some structure to my memories I wrote down the important events and in which year they had taken place.

When I had got back to my birth in the 1960s I decided to do the same for my parents and in doing so found out how little I knew about their lives. And when I had got back to their births in the 1930s I tried to do the same for my grandparents and realised that I knew almost nothing about their lives. And then when I got back to their births I stopped.

I had no idea of what happened before my grandparents were born. What little knowledge I had ended in 1900 and everything before that year was a mystery to me.

I had once visited the village church in Surrey where my grandparents were married and seen the house nearby where my grandmother was born. My grandfather had told me that we were related to Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, but that was the sum of my knowledge about my family history, and at the time I wasn't particularly interested.

But now having lived abroad for a number of years and having reached a certain age I became inquisitive about my roots and finding out what had happened to my family, not only back into the distant past but up until the present day.

I wanted to not only find out who my ancestors had been and how they had lived but to see if my family history could throw any light on my own life today and on the patterns of behaviour which seem to have been passed down from generation to generation. That was when I became interested in genealogy.

And so with the help of documents that my grandfather had left behind I started my search. Living abroad I was forced to use the internet but on visits to England visited record offices and the villages and churches which were connected to my family.

I have now gathered information on different branches of my family, some of it back into the 17th century, often with the help of newly found relations.

I found the connection to Montgomery and another one to the spy Kim Philby.

I found among my direct ancestors people from all walks of life; country clergymen and Oxford graduates, Victorian London cab drivers and agricultural labourers. Civil servants in the East India Company, jewellers to the King and Queen of Portugal, a stone mason who worked on the Crystal Palace in London, dyers working in the capital's East End and a Scottish Lord. I found schoolmasters, dressmakers, shoemakers, blacksmiths, wheelwrights and postmen.

I found ancestors from Cornwall to Yorkshire, from Liverpool to London, from the great industrial cities of the north to the small rural hamlets of the south and west, from Scotland, from Wales.
 I found ancestors born in Lisbon in Portugal and Gdansk in Prussian Poland and Huguenot refugees from France. I found connections further afield from North America to St Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean, from South Africa to India and further still to New Zealand.

I traced in my own family history the 19th century migration from small villages to the cities and the subsequent waves of emigration to (and immigration from) all corners of the world. I found in my family history the history of the British Isles.

As I compiled my family tree I came across many new villages and areas where my ancestors had spent their lives, often places I had never been to and knew very little about. Historical documents showing the dates and places where they were born, lived and died were fascinating but without an overview of the times and background on these places the information lacked colour and depth.

I also wanted to find out which notable people lived during my ancestors' lifetimes, people who they would have known about and whom they were possibly influenced by.

I was also interested in the landscape and historic buildings amongst which they spent their lives and which they may have experienced at first hand.

And to try and put their movements and decisions into more context I wanted to know the history of the times into which they were born and the events which not only helped define their lives but in which they may have been directly or indirectly caught up.

And so I started supplementing my genealogical research with general research into the history and geography of the historic counties of England and the idea for this website was born.

I have produced this website therefore for two reasons :-

The first was to provide a window on the online resources available to someone researching their ancestors in England. My aim was to bring together the websites that I found useful in my own research and that give a general overview of the resources that exist. I have concentrated on non-subscription and non-commercial sites.

I have also included a selection of genealogical information and have complemented this with other information which may help to put more historical and geographical perspective on the area where your ancestors came from.

My second reason for producing the website was with the aim of contacting other people, wherever in the world, who may be related. As I have ancestors who emigrated to New Zealand, the Caribbean, Canada, the USA, India and South Africa a website seemed the best way to give me a chance of getting in touch with their descendants.

Martin Bradley, 2003

Genealogy is a fascinating journey and as in life no one knows where it will take them.

I hope this site helps you in your search.

Martin Bradley, 2024

In 2003 - the year after I launched this website
- the US
Family Tree Magazine chose it as one of
the 10 best personal websites for that year


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