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  • Family tree and tracing heritage

    Has anyone had success in tracing their family tree?  We have just published this piece for tomorrows newsletter.  It would be great to hear any tips and suggestions from others….

    Posted by Stuart
    • Reply by Daisychain

      I’ve also used Freebmd to find both individuals in a marriage and all or most of the children from a marriage after 1916. It amazes me how much you can find out about people’s families from a very small amount of information. In a number of cases just the name and date of birth. It’s rather scary so do be careful when giving others your personal details. If you post your tree to Ancestry you can prevent others seeing it unless you give permission.

      Happy hunting and enjoy.


    • Reply by Angel Lisa

      I have been researching my family tree since 2007(I have 14,303 people) and I have learned a lot of things over the years. Do not treat other peoples family tree as if they are correct, many many people make mistakes. Always do your own research to check on any information found/given. Make note where you get your information from and people you contact, their contact info and what family they are linked to. Back up your tree constantly! Save frequently to an external drive and then also somewhere else too! I lost a vast amount of family tree stuff, personal photos of family, landscapes, documents, music…all sorts of things when my laptop and external drive died within a couple of days of each other. It was devastating. We only managed to retrieve an older version of my tree and bits and pieces. I know have things saved on my laptop, I have a general back up external drive and another external drive and I use a ‘cloud’ also…I learned my lesson!

      Check your place names. I live on the Isle of Wight in the UK and I have found many many people who mistake it for Isle of Wight County in the US and when I have tried to help people out by pointing out their error they get quite upset, refuse to accept and then ignore so they end up going very wrong with their tree.

      Always ask a persons permission to use their tree info, photos and records etc. I know a woman who befriends people doing their trees and then takes everything, even when the info has nothing to do with her family, it’s just common courtesy to ask.

      Talk to your older relatives before it’s too late, make sure you write or record all the information down, get names, dates, places etc. I wish I had done this more but I didnt and I now have two parents with varying degrees of dementia and no grandparents left to ask.

      Oh and the last thing…ENJOY! It is a very addictive activity but I love it!

    • Reply by Dreamyboy

      Few weeks ago was quietly eating a biscuit, when on a site, I discovered a long distant ancestor was on the Mayflower – I was highly excited by this, believing how unique I now was, as I had traced my family back to the 1600s before but never to any great historical event – I joyfully informed my wife who in a deadpan sort of way asked me to look up how many other people could trace their ancestors back to the Mayflower – answer:30 million………….. I quietly went back to my biscuit.

      • Reply by Kathie



        That’s interesting as I am just doing a history course on the Pilgrim Fathers. Who is your ancestor?

        • Reply by Dreamyboy

          Richard Warren who was a passenger – this was no detective work in my case, someone had already done the hard work for me on the ‘Family Tree’ site (Latter day saints). I had already managed to trace another part of my family back to the early 1600’s who were Dutch emigrants to America who had kept precise records. As for every other branch of my family I have always reached a dead end in victorian times or even sooner!

        • Reply by Kathie



          He signed the Mayflower compact. Do you know where in England he came from?

        • Reply by Dreamyboy

          Hi Kathie , According to Family Tree – London,doesn’t give a particular area.

        • Reply by Kathie

          He may have been part of the crew in which case Rotherhithe. I will ask the history tutor if she has any information

        • Reply by Dreamyboy

          Thanks for that Kathie.

        • Reply by Kathie


          Regarding Richard Warren he was a merchant investor in the Mayflower from London, but nothing more is known I am afraid. His first wife who travelled with him died and he married Elizabeth who arrived on the ship Ann and they had 2 sons. He also had 2 daughters from the first marriage. Richard’s many descendants include; Sarah Palin, Richard Gere, Glen Ford, Ernest Hemmingway, Taylor Swift, Orson Welles and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

          Sorry I couldn’t find anymore information


        • Reply by Dreamyboy

          Kathie, many thanks for the info, much appreciated – wondering if Taylor Swift will appreciate a visit from long distant relative? Perhaps not, maybe just a subtle begging letter instead! Thanks again, Paul

    • Reply by Daisychain

      The best tip I can give anyone is to talk to elderly relatives about their memories and their families and make notes. Sometimes even the most unlikely family stories have some basis in truth and will help research in the future.

      Family Tree Forum is so helpful. People there will help you look for relatives and information about them and will do look-ups for you on sites that you do not have access to. Ancestry DNA for relative finding can also point you in the right direction.

    • Reply by Daisychain

      I initially started doing my tree in Turkey with Ancestry, Genes Reunited (now defunct), Family Tree Forum (FTF) and loads of other sites. My first interests were my father’s and mother’s paternal families. I was particularly interested in the Blackman family from the Weald in Sussex and Kent. I already had a tree that Mum and her cousin had managed pre-internet that stopped abruptly at 1830. There was a query as to whether there was some bigamy going on because the name Roberts was being used. Some very kind folk from FTF helped me and I found other distant relatives who resolved the issue. I continued on from there, unearthing desertion in WW1, illegitimacy but there are still lots of unanswered questions. I then gave it all a rest.

      Recently a daughter decided to have her DNA checked and managed to find two half uncles and thus her father’s father, who had previously been a mystery. I had my DNA done as well and was contacted by a third cousin. By process of elimination we worked out the identity of his great grand father.

      It’s a never ending detective story and so fascinating to find out about the lives of our ancestors. I still have a number of corrections to do on my tree and will get round to it sometime. It’s rather addictive but a great pastime in this strange period of our history.

    • Reply by Fenfemme

      I started to work on my family tree many years ago in the US when I had to request microfiche films of London parish records from the Church of Latter Day Saints. Today, Ancestry is a treasure trove of information. I started again as a lockdown project and have uncovered family skeletons and the darker side of poverty in Victorian London. It’s given me a renewed appreciation for how hard my past family worked so I could have a comfortable life today. I’ve also renewed contact with distant cousins. I highly recommend it as a hobby but it is like a never-ending jigsaw puzzle!

    • Reply by Jaynie

      I have managed to construct quite a lengthy family tree thanks to the Ancestry site.  So very interesting, not much travelling involved though, most of my family, maternal and paternal were from the same two counties.  I purchased an Ancestry DNA testing kit for my son last year, the result of that was fascinating – it appears he has a decent percentage of Scandinavian genes along with the four British counties.

    • Reply by CarolineB

      Hi Stuart, Loving the article on tracing your family tree. I have been doing family history research for 15 yrs now. I started with my own family and moved on to doing trees for friends and family. I recently spent over a year researching a tree as a present for a friends ‘special’ birthday. I went the extra mile (literally) and travelled all over the country to visit local history centres and photograph churches where his relatives were married or houses they lived in etc
      He was over the moon with his present. Of course a lot of research can be done online now, but be warned it is addictive! The article gives lots of good ideas and advice. I have just advertised locally on Social Media to do family trees as an unusual Xmas present, so hopefully might even make a little extra doing something I love. If anyone wants any help or advice please give me a shout.

      • Reply by Stuart

        Thanks Caroline!   Sounds amazing – post covid I love the idea of travelling to trace down ancestry – it adds real meaning to a trip and becomes a real life detective adventure!   I’m not surprised your friend was over the moon with their present, its such a personal and powerful gift to give to someone!  Thanks for your message and have a lovely Sunday.

        • Reply by RKD

          I started tracing my family tree around 2 years ago. It is very interesting! My maternal grandfather did a lot of research many years ago and had the tree printed professionally. We were amazed to find that we are descended from Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, who was known as The King Maker. Unfortuanately, when my grandparents passed away, we never found the tree. I contacted the College of Arms in London and they were very interested when I told them that I was going to try and recreate the tree, as they trying to trace Richard Neville’s descendants. The biggest problem is that he only had daughters and a lot of the historical records were destroyed. I’ve gone back to the late 1600’s, but until we can freely move around the country and visit heritage centres again, I’m a little stuck. My Great grandfather also had an interesting life, being a metropolitan policeman in H-Division, which was Whitechapel. He was also on duty during the Sidney Street Siege. I am trying to find out where this photo of him was taken. He is on the far right. I love the photo! My most recent interest has been in my Great Uncle (my Grandad’s eldest brother). He was in WW1 and came home from France in late 1916. He had PTSD and suffered for many years until eventually committing suicide at the Star and Garter Home for disabled soldiers by drinking disinfectant!
          I also did a DNA test and have found lots of relatives, some (on my Dad’s side) who live very close to me. Sadly, the oldest known relative passed away during the first lockdown, so I never got to meet her 😢.


        • Reply by Daisychain

          Do you mean The Star and Garter home at the top of Richmond Hill, Surrey? I remember it as a teenager as I lived quite nearby. Last time I saw it, it had been turned into a rather posh hotel.

          I’m sorry to hear about your great uncle. My great uncle always had the shakes an Mum told me he wasn’t well. I later found out he had deserted in WW1 in 1915/16 but have no more info. to date.