Genealogy is always a work in progress so lets start at the very beginning…..
What is Genealogy?
I hear you say, well it's tracing your family history, it is a most interesting and rewarding hobby … beware though it can become addictive. Please note, that all the details and addresses shown below are mainly for the United Kingdom only.
How do I go about it?
The first port of call, is to work on those who are living at the moment. Start with your details first:
Date and place of Birth,
any Brothers and Sisters,
Names and dates of birth for your parents (and place names if possible).
It's always handy to have your Parents marriage/birth certificates, and these can either be sent for from OHMS Southport, (they charge a fee which varies depending on if you have the exact reference details - this will take around a month to be sent to you), or from the local Birth, Deaths, Marriages centre near where you are based (that’s only if they are from this area, e.g. living in Coventry in the West Midlands, sent for in Coventry). Note: there are several different addresses for differing parts of each county, so best to check in a telephone directory for the nearest one to you. The Family Records Centre also make a charge if you go in person to request a certificate, and this will take in average four days to be sent to you (or you can go and collect it in person if you so wish). The Civil Registration of Births Marriages and Deaths started on 1st July 1837, so you can’t get certificates for before that date. My great great great grandparents on my mothers side, Henry BABINGTON and Helen Howden, got married a few days BEFORE civil registration (would you credit it!!) so I can’t get a certificate of their marriage. When civil registration came into operation, for marriages it showed occupation of the bride and groom, where they lived at the time of their marriage, their fathers name, and his occupations, and names of their witnesses. For births it showed name of child, whether male or female, name of mother and father, and occupation, and where born. For deaths it shows age at death, who notified the death, and reasons for death, and place of death.
Look on tracing your family history, as a tree, first you have the stump of the tree, this is YOU (1), then you have your parents (2) so further up the stump, then their parents (your grandparents) (4), so now you are starting on the branches (and their offspring), and their parents (your great-grandparents) (8) etc.; so every time you go one step further back you get their parents so from 8, you get 16, then 32, then 64, then 128 etc. Note its always better to mainly work on the main base of your family, the male line, if you work on the girls (sisters, aunts etc.) marrying into other families and there lineage's, your tree gets exceedingly large, as I have found out with the BABINGTONs of Lincolnshire and Australia (which are not ready as yet for this web site, though the basic tree will be.)
Once you have found the area that your family came from, e.g. the BABINGTONs from Benniworth here in Lincolnshire; it is worth while visiting the church and looking at information on the gravestones, and writing it all down. The parish records here in Lincolnshire are kept at the Archives Office in Lincoln. However the Benniworth records are not lodged there … so more detective work will be needed on this. It's at times like this, that you go into Sherlock Holmes detective mode. I have visited other areas where the BABINGTONs were from, Old Bolingbroke, although they lived there, none were buried there … more curious. .. Anyway you can read more about this in my BABINGTON pages. Now where was I, ah yes, the parish registers for different areas of the country have been kept since the 16th century. A great number of these parish registers have been alphabetically indexed (note: only births and marriages), and can be seen on microfilm, so looking at the IGIs could prove very useful. (IGI by the way stands for International Genealogical Index.) the details go from approx. 1540 to approx. 1870, though its always best to check these against the parish records, as I have found that some ‘ancestors’ have been missed out altogether, one being my great-great grandmother Mary Jane BABINGTON, who was found in the written parish records of Coningsby, Lincs.
A good idea is to check on censuses for the area you are researching. Censuses started in 1841, and are available upto 1891. I have not worked on common surnames like SMITH or JONES, that would be far too difficult, as there are so many of them around. (Please don't take offence if you are reading this and your name is SMITH or JONES!!!) The others, apart from the 1841 census, show details of birthplaces, occupation, where they lived, relationship to the head of the household, and so are very useful to the genealogist. As censuses are only available to be seen every 100 years, the 1901 census will shortly be available sometime 2001. The 1881 census is available on CD, from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Birmingham, England; and is very very useful, and easy to use.
How I keep & store the information gathered from all these sources involves a range of materials e.g. Computer hard drive for my Internet information, Ring binders for the printed version of the above and I also find address books useful as quick reference to many of the Surnames encountered that are connected with the main Surname I am researching.
Another good idea is to join your Local History Society near you, ours is right here in Horncastle, and they meet once a month. Its so nice to discuss your lineages with like-minded people. I am really a very quiet person, but I remember Paul talking to one of the members of the Local Society the other year, and saying that ‘Lorraine is a very quiet person’ and she said ‘Well, she wont be for long’. And I suppose, yes this quiet person is starting to bloom … a bit like a flower.
I subscribe to two magazines here in England, these are Practical Family History, and Family Tree Magazine, both published monthly from the same organisation. Their web address is www.familytree.co.uk. and I find the publications very helpful.
I hope you enjoy reading my web pages, and I’d love to hear from you with what you think about it.
A useful book :
TRACING YOUR FAMILY TREE by Jean Cole and John Titford … this is available from the magazines that I have mentioned above.
Some useful addresses:
Civil Registrations Indexes and Certificate Applications
The Office for National Statistics
The Family Records Centre
London EC1R 1UW
You can get details on the census returns from 1841-1891 from here as well, using the first line as ‘The Public Record Office’ and then ‘The Family Records Centre’, etc.
Civil Registrations Certificates (applications by post)
Postal Application Section
Office for National Statistics
PO Box 2
Public Record Office