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Unknown Ancestors and Tracing Methods

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Unknown Ancestors and Tracing Methods

Postby Lucretia66 » Sat Apr 20, 2019 8:46 am

Has anyone been able to trace ancestors with little information please? I'm having such a problem with my father's paternal side. I never knew my grandfather as he died before I was born, and, I've never met anyone from his side of the family. My father's maternal side seemed to know practically nothing about them. There are few of the maternal side left alive and I have no contact with them. Fortunately I did know about my grandfathers brothers names and dates of birth and his mother marrying someone else after her husband died young (and his surname) although he's obviously not a blood relative. This coupled with some research and ordering my grandfather's birth cert copy (easy to get due to his unusual middle name) have yielded my great-grandparents names. I've now managed to find out their fathers names from the marriage cert. But now I'm stuck as there are so many others with the same names and I have no idea about any other details. I don't think they bothered much to register births and marriages and deaths. I would love to know if someone else has had this problem and if they found other ways to trace them. If there's a method for doing this it would be very helpful if you could let me know. Thank you.
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Re: Unknown Ancestors and Tracing Methods

Postby Mick Loney » Sat Apr 20, 2019 2:45 pm

Don’t be disheartened by your apparent lack of information. A lot people starting out are in the same boat, but if you post what information you do have, I’m sure there are plenty on this forum willing to fill in the blanks and steer you in right direction.

Your main avenues of research after 1837 are the GRO indexes, (Births, Marriages and Deaths), Parish Registers (Baptisms, Marriage and Burials) and censuses from 1841 to 1911, plus the 1939 Register.

Using all these resources, work Backwards carefully, and you will slowly build your tree.Try to complete each generation before moving back to the previous generation.

Don’t forget to note your sources as you go (something beginners forget in their rush to get back in time as quickly as they can).
Mick Loney
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Re: Unknown Ancestors and Tracing Methods

Postby AdrianB38 » Sat Apr 20, 2019 3:50 pm

Re registration of BMD - assuming that we're talking about England and Wales after, say, the 1850s, then the chances of non registration of a BMD are slim. Well, maybe not with marriages where people might not actually be formally married. It's virtually impossible not to register a death - but it's easy to get the wrong information on a DC so you might not be able to recognize the person. With BCs, the real problem is with mis spelled names, assumptions over where and when the birth is, and illegitimate births where the child is registered under the mother's surname but known by the father's name in later years. So they are probably there - somewhere.

The principle approach is always the same - get everything, BMD certificates, censuses, any church stuff such as baptisms. For your direct ancestors, always, always get the certificates. Don't forget the 1939 Register.

Kind of difficult to be more specific than that, so why not tell us as much as you can (you shouldn't give out details of anyone alive). The one thing that I have no experience about how to overcome is the leap back to the last census - by the time I started my research my great grandparents were in the census.

Oh, none of the above encouragement applies if you're looking for a Smith in London!!

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Re: Unknown Ancestors and Tracing Methods

Postby Guy » Sun Apr 21, 2019 6:07 am

Often the most difficult research problems in modern times are the very first steps from oneself to parents and grandparents.

Here are some routes to follow.

First and foremost obtain a full copy of ones own birth certificate.
After that try to find a marriage record for ones mother and father (assuming they actually married, not all couples did).
Other records to try are Electoral Registers (if father’s name is unknown look for mother’s name) with luck both mother and father will be registered to vote at the same address.
School registers, your own school registers may provide clues to parents and/or addresses as will any records for siblings such as their birth certificates.
If you know your father’s name then Trade Union and Occupational records may add further details to build a picture of his working life.
Military records may also come in to play due to the Second World War (Army, Navy, Air force) these may also give the name and address of next of kin.
That in turn takes us back to something that resembles one of the most important sources for the next 100 years of history the National Registration of 1939 (this resembles a census but is not a census and does not cover the entire population as census do).
From 1911 back to 1837 it is then relativity easy to research using census and civil registration as the main (though definitely not the only resources).

As we have gained from the past, we owe the future a debt, which we pay by sharing today.
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Re: Unknown Ancestors and Tracing Methods

Postby Lucretia66 » Wed May 01, 2019 1:40 pm

Thank you very much for your help. A lot of information to digest here. Fingers crossed it will lead to more ancestors.
I'm busy with other things at the moment, but I'll get back to this as soon as I can.
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