What do you know?
Whether you're well-versed in your family folklore or not, it's important to start by setting down all the information you already have.
Sketching out a rough family tree is a good way to begin – or you could start building one online. You can do this via some of the commercial family history websites such as www.ancestry.co.uk, www.findmypast.com, and www.genesreunited.com.
Begin with yourself and your immediate family then work backwards methodically. Each time you go back a generation, your number of direct ancestors will double.
Keep adding names and any other biographical details you’ve mustered until you run out of information. These ‘gaps’ will alert you to where your research should begin.
When sketching out your tree, common terms can be abbreviated to save on space and keep things clear:
- Born = b.
- Baptised = bapt.
- Marriage = m.
- An ‘=’ between two names denotes that two people were married
- A  or  above the ‘=’ indicates a first or second marriage
- Died = d.
- Buried = bur.
Dates about which you are unsure should be prefixed with c. (for circa)