Five tricks to help you find elusive forebears

By Steve Harnell, 19 February 2015 - 1:01pm

Deputy editor Claire Vaughan serves up five tricks to help you find elusive forebears

Claire Vaughan is deputy editor at Who Do You Think You Are? MagazineThursday 12 February 2015
Claire Vaughan, deputy editor
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Frustrated by ancestors missing from the census? Here are some top resources to help you track them down, says deputy editor Claire Vaughan

We’ve just received the March issue of the magazine here at WDYTYA? HQ and I’m enjoying a quick flip through it over my morning cup of tea…

I don’t know about you, but I have several ancestors missing from the census – it’s frustrating to say the least. So the feature on the alternative records you can use to uncover their whereabouts was the first one I turned to. In it, former lead genealogist on the TV show Laura Berry reveals her tips on tracing those elusive forebears and I thought I’d share my favourites here with you now.

• Electoral registers are a great resource, containing the names and addresses of those eligible to vote. Check out Ancestry’s huge collection, spanning the entire census period.

•  Street directories provide the names and addresses of traders in a particular area. Track your ancestor through consecutive volumes to discover their changing fortunes. The Genealogist has good coverage, while The University of Leicester’s extensive Historical Directories of England and Wales can be searched for free here

• Your missing person may have died, of course. The National Probate Calendar will tell you their occupation, address, whether they left a will, where and when they died, the value of their estate and names of executors. Search the calendars online at Ancestry and the Government’s Find a Will service here

• Tithe apportionments span a 20-year period from 1836 and contain the names of owners and occupants of land and buildings and where they lived. The Genealogist is currently digitising the national collection held at The National Archives. The British Library has a list of existing projects here.

• Parish registers provide names, addresses and occupations of people baptised, married and buried in each parish. Search them for free at Familysearch.org. All the major subscription websites hold digitised parish registers, and Genuki can alert you to smaller online collections.

For more tips on how to bypass the census, read Laura’s excellent feature in our March issue.

If you have any other ideas for tracking down missing ancestors, or you’ve managed to break down a census-related brick wall and want to tell us about it, then email us at claire.vaughan@immediate.co.uk or contact us via our Facebook page or via Twitter

 

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