A Family History Gift book (what it takes)

Family history gift book example

A hand writingWe devote a huge amount of resources and time writing our family history gift books for clients across the UK. For us, they are the culmination of thirty years studying and practicising the craft of genealogy. We think of each family as a unique entity and it is why we originally developed our family history gift ideas in 1998.

Researching a tree is not easy. It would take a very long post explaining the methods used to achieve accuracy. And this is at the hub of research – it is easy to research a family tree, but very difficult to do it accurately. So you have to ask yourself, do you want a cheap family tree custom gift that could be inaccurate? Or one researched to the highest standard? Yes it’s a no brainer.

So this brief post is about the art of the genealogical paper trail. It is designed to show just how much research we put into researching one person if neceassary. Of course in a family tree, this is one ancestor out of very many!

Last year we were asked to research two sides of a family (Two Surname Family History Research  package). Both sides were difficult, but one seemed almost impossible. There was a mystery and it seemed insurmountable. When was the ancestor born? His birth did not exist in the birth indexes. The usual explanation for this is that his birth was not registered, so forget it. However, in thirty years of research, it has become apparent that the lack of birth registration is rare. Particularly around the date he was born: 1882. So did we figure it out and find him? Yes we did! But it took a hell of a lot of work.

Here is the paper trail:

 Marriage of son 1940

1939 Register

Birth of son 1915

1911 Census

Marriage in 1903

1st search of 1901 Census – no result

2nd search of 1901 Census – no result for father on marriage certificate

Search of 1891 Census – no result for either

Search of 1881 Census – no result for either

Birth search for ancestor – no result

Baptism search for ancestor – result found with sibling (double baptism)

Search 1881 Census for father on baptism (different from father on marriage!) – no result

Search 1881 Census for mother on baptism – widow born in Aveley

Search for marriage of parents on baptism – married in 1873

Search death/burials for of father on baptism – died in 1878

Search 1881 Census for brother-in-law informant of father’s death – confirmed his wife born in Aveley

Search 1891 Census for mother – no result

Search 1891 Census for mother+Aveley+year of birth – result was mother with different surname

Birth search for ancestor with mother’s different surname – found!

Birth search for sibling with mother’s different surname – found!

Search 1901 Census for different surname – found!

Search 1911 Census for mother and father with different surname – no result

Search death of mother with different surname – no result

Search death of mother with old surname – found

Search death of father with different surname – found

In short, all this evidence was required to present an argument that the ancestor was actually born to a different father with a different surname. What this meant for our client was that the surname he used all his life wasn’t really his and he shared no DNA heritage with the family that he had long thought was his forebears.

So that is how we, at Family History Gifts, break a genealogical brick wall.


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