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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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.
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, 2013
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.