Lockdown has seen thousands of Brits explore their roots, uncovering fascinating stories from their family trees.
The genealogy required careful study, cross country trips to local archives and hours to spend on dusty graves.
But now, with a wide variety of apps, websites and other resources, these incredible stories are now just a few clicks away.
Findmypast Chief Revenue Officer Sam Otter said: “Interest in online research has been steadily increasing since the early 2020s.
“When Kovid first imposed the ban, FindMyPast saw new users double the 60% increase in the number of searchers performing on our site. Thousands of families across the UK have since called the lockdown to trace their roots. Is taken as an opportunity.
“Online family research allows you to travel through time from the comfort of home and anyone can do it; all you need is an internet connection and an inquiring mind.
“It can offer a sense of rejuvenation and new-found self-discovery with unique stories from millions of people who are just waiting to be found.”
Findmypast user Mandy Lewis uncovered some surprising stories about her ancestors.
She says: “I proved my illegitimate great grandmother’s biological father, James Harrison, through DNA. He ended up in a terrible asylum, there are two pictures of him in his patient record.”
“I found out a few years ago that King Richard III was buried in the garden of my 12x great grandfather Robert Herrick in Leicester. Learning about Robert’s relationship to James in the asylum and the history of Leicester was very moving. Gone. I have learned more. Where I have come from history and more, which I am passionate about. “
Use our guide on how to start uncovering your family’s past…
1. Getting Started
Pay attention to what you already know, focusing on names, dates and places. This will form the basis of your initial research.
See your relatives what they miss. Every detail can help, no matter how trivial.
Ask older family members first because they are likely to encounter some of the people you are researching, or have heard stories about them.
Find attic Check old photographs, letters or documents and other heirs for clues of the past.
2. Search Online
The billions of records now available online contain a wealth of information for building your family tree.
When searching for ancestors, it is always best to start extensive by searching for the name and year of birth.
Once you get a better idea of what, where and whom you are looking for, you can remove things from there.
3. Build a family tree
The best place to store your searches is in an online family tree.
Many online tree builders, including Findmypast, are free to use, easy to use, and jam-packed with useful features including ‘hints’, which will require a lot of hard work.
The signs automatically match the names, dates and locations logged for each ancestor to the relevant names as well as common ancestors stored in other users’ trees – allowing you to directly benefit from existing research.
4. Birth, Marriage and Death
Civil registration in England and Wales began in July 1837 and the General Register Office (GOR) has since recorded details of all births, marriages and deaths.
Their carefully kept records are widely available online and will provide you with all the information you need to identify ancestors and uncover previous generations.
They can reveal:
– Where and when your ancestors were born, married or died
– The names of your ancestor’s parents
– Your ancestor’s spouse’s name
– Names of the children of their ancestors
These records will provide you with the details you need to order copies of the original certificates from the Gross website.
The certificates will provide you with even more details to assist you in your hunt.
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Never miss a moment by signing up for our newspaper here.
5. Become a Census Detective
Now easily accessible on many websites, Censuse has been taken in Britain every decade since 1801 (in 1941, when the war prevented it).
The complete censor for England and Walls has been available online since 1841 and due to data protection laws, the latest census allows us to search for dates online from 1911.
Sensors can provide information about your ancestor and the people with whom they were living.
The Register plugs a significant gap in the British record and is one of the best resources available to begin now.
The 1931 census was destroyed by fire. No census was conducted in 1941 due to the war. Therefore the 1939 register is the only national census-like resource available for this period.
The register is extremely detailed and covers every home in England and Wales. Like a census, it can tell you a lot about how your ancestors actually lived or are used to trace the history of your home.
You can find out whether your ancestors had servants or employees, who were their neighbors, how many children they had and what they did for a living.
6. Search Parish Records
Parish records are the main source of daily life records between 1538, when Britain broke away from the Catholic Church, and in 1837 when the responsibility for record keeping was taken over by the government.
The parish records provide a fascinating look not only at your family history, but in the history of our society, along with descriptions of baptisms, marriages and burials, dating all the way back to the reign of Henry VIII.
They are also a great way to jump back through the generations and add new branches to your growing family tree.
Millions of remuneration records can now be easily searched from all corners of the country as more and more county councils make their archives available online.
7. Check the news
Historical newspapers are an incredible resource because they can provide rare insights into the daily lives of your ancestors. Local papers include more than birth, marriage and death declarations.
8. Tell Their Story
Once you’ve grown your family tree, it’s time to add some color to your research to take a closer look at the lives of your ancestors.
Among the billions of records available online, you will find a variety of documents, which can help you learn a surprising amount about the decisive moments of their lives.