available on the internet these days?
- It's true that
increasing amounts of data are being made available online. These online resources can
certainly make the initial stages of research a lot quicker, but at some
stage you may well have to go back to primary sources in The National
Archives or local record offices. I'ts also worth bearing in
mind that many transcription errors can creep into the indexes of online
resources, making them time consuming and frustrating to use for the
inexperienced. By using various search strategies, I am often able
to uncover families in the censuses that clients have previously been
unable to find for themselves (I love a challenge!).
How long will it take?
- This will largely
depend upon how much information is available initially, and how far you
want to go - or how much detail you want to find out. Sometimes it's
possible to go back three generations quite quickly; at other
times it may be necessary to order several certificates for people
with the same name before finding the right one. Of course you might
hit a brick wall very early on - it really is impossible to
- Bear in mind also
that if it is necessary to order certificates of birth, marriage or death,
there will be a time delay whilst I wait to receive them (normally about a
How much will it cost?
- Again, it's
impossible to generalise - which is why I like to work to a budget limit,
so that the client can choose at each stage whether or not to continue
with a particular avenue of research. Some searches can be very time
consuming - looking through parish registers could well take several
hours and yield no results - or you could find the record within the first
How can I be sure that
you've found the right people?
- I will always tell
you what my supporting evidence is, and document any assumptions I've
made. It can be difficult to unravel families where different
generations have the same name, or where cousins of the same name live in
the same place. If I'm not sure, I won't guess - I'll document the
various possibilities, and if possible suggest other ways of verifying who
What if my name is
- Looking for
ancestors whose surname is common can be very difficult; however if there
are unusual forenames, or occupations, it can still be possible to
pinpoint the right people. Of course looking for a William Smith in
London is going to be a lot more difficult than finding a Gaius Smith in
Princes Risborough - but not necessarily impossible. If my initial
assessment is that it can't be done, I'll tell you.
My family came from the
West Country - can you help?
- Yes - I
am a frequent visitor to the West Country, and can carry out research at
the Devon and Somerset record offices. I'm familiar with
the area and have conducted extensive 'field work' here (e.g. visits to
graveyards, photographing old houses and inns).
I think my family were
originally from Ireland - can you help?
- Most of us have
branches of our family who lived a long way from where they might have
landed up in the twentieth century. Depending upon when the family
arrived from Ireland, I will possibly be able to find out where they came
from - and when. Indexes to Irish civil registration registers are
held in London at the LDS Family History Centre, and so I could do a
certain amount of research for you, if they are relatively recent
My family is from
Yorkshire, can you help?
- If the last couple
of generations of your family came from Yorkshire and evidence suggests
that their ancestors did too, then I may not be the best person to help
you. You will need to contact someone who has easy access to the
Yorkshire Record Offices, and local knowledge of that area.