Family History and Genealogy

Genealogy is the study and tracing of family pedigrees. This involves the collection of the names of relatives, both living and deceased, and establishing the relationships among them based on primary, secondary and/or circumstantial evidence or documentation, thus building up a cohesive family tree.

Getting Started

If you're not sure where to begin to start researching your family history, or if you are stuck in your research, I'd suggest looking at one of the books at S&N Genealogy Supplies, as they have a huge selection of books available to help you take that first step in your research.

BMD Records

BMD stands for Births, Marriages and Deaths - these are the first records you should turn to when beginning your search for your ancestors. As these records are available from 1837 onwards, you could begin by finding your own birth record, or your parents' birth record, and work backwards from there.

Records are available from 1837 - 2005. This also means you can also find your birth record!

Directories

Directories have been produced for well over 300 years and can prove to be an invaluable source of information about local communities. As well as information about individuals, they also provide a wealth of general background information. For the periods before the census was available, they provide a snapshot of communities and their inhabitants, and the later ones are extremely useful tools for locating ancestors in the census.

Pigot directories start around 1820 and cover the major professions, nobility, gentry, clergy, coach and carrier services, Taverns and Public houses of the areas.

In Kelly's directories residents will also be listed. There are sections on each major town and surrounding villages, with a history of the area in a great deal of detail as you would find in a gazetteer.

Post Office Directories in the 1900's gave fairly complete listings for the residents and tradespeople of an area.

Census Records

The census is a complete population count for a given area or place taken on a specific date every ten years. Each householder was required to complete a census schedule giving the address of the household, the names, ages, sex, occupations and places of birth of each individual residing in his or her accommodation. From 1851, householders were asked to give more precise details of the places of birth of each resident, to state their relationship to him or her, marital status and the nature of any disabilities from which they may have suffered.

Military Records

These include Army Lists, Navy Lists, Roll of Honours (WWI and WWII), etc.

An outline of an officer's career is usually fairly easy to discover from official army lists, and can usually provide the key to accessing a soldier's various documents relating to their appointment and service.

The Navy List is an official list of naval officers, their ranks and seniority, the ships which they command or to which they are appointed, etc., that is published by the government or naval authorities of a country.

WWI and WWII records help you find out about heroic officers and overseas deaths, and you can even read the original magazine that was printed weekly during the second world war, giving you an fascinating insight into how your ancestors lived during that period.

Other Records

Atlases and Maps can be a great aid to finding where your ancestors lived. Over the years streets get knocked down, villages disappear and cities expand. During the second world war many streets were bombed and areas changed out of all recognition. Some atlases include city/town centre plans and are at a large enough scale to show houses.

Gazetteers contain lists of place names with descriptions. They can give detailed information and some also contain maps to illustrate the county sections.

School/College/University Records are useful for finding out more about your ancestors' education and to gain an understanding of how different education was back then. They usually include the name, birth date, entrance/leaving dates, address, and career information (where available).

University records usually give the same information, but include more detailed biographies of graduates, as well as listing their achievements.

Criminal Registers - Most criminal registers provide details of the offender, including name, aliases, court, offence and sentence/aqquital. These registers can be useful for finding criminals in your ancestral line.