Hit a Brick Wall? These Genealogy Tips can help
Everyone hits a brick wall at some stage. I hope these genealogy tips will help you break them down.
- It is important to cite
sources where possible - it can be useful to know where you obtained
information for future reference.
It is best to note down all information from the record - it
may help in the future.
If you are given a possible date by another person, but
cannot find the entry you are seeking, it is advisable to look a few years either
side of this date.
- Try alternative spellings of your
ancestor's surname if you
are unable to find their record in the indexes.
You can also use the wildcard search, one method of which is to place a *
second or third letter of the surname which will bring up many
spellings, such as Min*, which will bring up Minter, Minton, Mintorn
- You can also place the * at the start of the surname, such as
*inton, which will bring up Hinton, Minton, Winton etc. This also works
names, by typing Ann*, this will bring up Ann, Anne, Annie etc.If you are unable to track down a birth certificate for your
ancestor, try obtaining their sibling's certificate instead - this may help you
to determine your ancestor's mother's maiden name.
- Another of the genealogy tips is to look for birth dates of
children if you cannot find their parent's marriage. Their children's ages may give you an
approximate marriage date.
- Your ancestor may
have married more than once to a person with the same name as their previous
partner - if you see children baptised to Abraham and Ann for example please be
aware that Ann may not be the same wife.
I have seen an example of this in that my relative Abraham Devonshire
married Ann Rolls and then after she died, he married another Ann Rolls, the
previous Ann's cousin - so confusing!!!!
- If you cannot find your ancestor and their family in a
census index, it does not necessarily mean that they are not on the
census. Sometimes looking for a specific
address rather than looking by name can yield results.
- Another of the genealogy tips to try obtaining the certificate for the child born nearest the
date of the census if you cannot find your family - this gives you another
avenue to explore. Sometimes a child's
baptism record gives their parent's address so try looking at that address too.
- Don't discount wills - sometimes family members are
mentioned. This is especially helpful if
a child was baptised in a period where the register is missing, but you suspect
you know who their father was. I have
firsthand experience of this in that my ancestor Joseph Scrivener mentioned his
daughter Eleanor in his will, thus proving the connection.
- Look for indentures and deeds - they may help you establish
a family connection as a pedigree is sometimes mentioned. By looking at an indenture I was able to
prove Joseph Scrivener's ancestry.
- Should there be more than one possible entry for your
ancestor in a burial register, or you require more information than that noted,
try looking at Monumental Inscriptions.
They can sometimes give further details about your ancestor and their
family than can be found in a burial register, especially in earlier years.
- If you cannot determine your ancestor's birthplace, try
looking for their discharge or enlistment paper if they were in the military -
they sometimes mention an individual's birthplace.
- If you find in the course of your research that you have relatives you are trying to trace, you could always try contacting Trace People UK, who are professional people tracers.
- More tips can be found by going to Plusnet's How to start building your family tree online.
Broken down your own Brick Wall?
Have you broken down your own brick wall? I'd love to hear how you did it.