View Full Version : How far have you traced back ?

Simon in Bucks
03-07-2006, 10:47 PM
I started doing the Family Tracing at the end of the Who Do You Think You Are ? series on BBC2..............earlier this year.

Have used a combination of Ancestry, 1841 - 1901 Census records, FreeBMD, Gov Rec Office for the Certificates and some distant family relatives, to go back as far as some of my GGG Grandparents - and a couple of GGGG Grandparents born in the 1790's.

So overall after about 5 months, I've made some fairly rapid progress. Obviously, I'm getting to the 1837 'cut-off' in most of my branches, and this is the stopping point - I then switch onto another family branch. I'm not sure if I will carry on before 1837 in ALL lines, maybe just on my surname.

I'm tracing back on all routes, Parents, GrandParents, G GrandParents etc etc............probably the most tricky, but also keeps the momentum moving.

I'd be most interested to know how long you have been tracing back your Family History and how far you have got back ?

I did have a go about 20 years ago, but one trip up to the Records Office at the time put me off...............as a youngster of 15, I just thought you gave a couple of names and they printed your Family Tree direct off the computers !!!


03-07-2006, 10:56 PM
I have been researching for about 15 years, my dad was doing it before then and he handed it on to me. I have taken one or two lines back into the 1700s but I keep getting distracted by ...Stuff.

For example one ancestor was a picture dealer and in searching for his will as a way of discovering how many children he had - He was dead before 1851 and I hadn't managed to find him on the 1841, this was before it was online. I found that he had been "feloniously Killed and Slayed". This, of course sent me off to discover the difference between the law in 1842 and the Law now and why his killers were found guilty and sentenced to six months hard labour. I now know a lot more about the Southwark of the time and I have re-read Oliver Twist to gain an insight into the more notorious parts of the borough - fascinating stuff.

I can see that it will be a lifetime's work just to find out what the jobs were like and what sort of homes and...
You get the picture


03-07-2006, 10:57 PM
After about 15 years of research one branch is back to the late 1600s and yet another branch is firmly stuck at about 1862/3. I like to know what happened to all of the siblings on every generation. This hobby will keep me busy for years yet.

03-07-2006, 11:12 PM
Most of mine goes back to around the early to mid 1700's - but some branches are still stuck in the early 1800's. One branch I was lucky enough to work with several others on - it was an unusual surname, even for Cornwall - and they are back to the 1400's. But to be honest, I don't worry about how far back I can get - its just as exciting to discover a snippet of information about someone from the late 1800's or even 1900's as it is to find early records.
My main direct line is stuck in 1775 - and has been for several years, despite a lot of effort.
I have been doing this for about 17 years now - when my eldest daughter was born, but much more seriously in the last 10 or so I suppose.


Simon in Bucks
03-07-2006, 11:14 PM
Maybe the 'easy' bit is going back to 1837............once you have the names and certificates, you then do want to add something to these ancestors.

Certainly, I'm interested in what they did and where they lived : I've been passed a number of old family photo's and also a map of Portsmouth docks from the 1860's. Add in a couple of books that I got via Amazon from some free vouchers via work, it's going in the right direction.

As Ladkyis and Copper say, it's going to take a number of years to really track it all back - although the Internet is a quicker way to doing the initial searching............it's still going to take me a few years to do it all.

03-07-2006, 11:22 PM
it's still going to take me a few years to do it all
If you can "do it all" in a few years, I will "eat my hat!" (as grandma used to say).

Make that a lifetime, and you still will not be "finished", but I hope you have a lot of fun, and make some interesting and surprising discoveries along the way.

Good luck, and enjoy!


03-07-2006, 11:32 PM
Oh I forgot to answer your question |blush|

I've been dabbling for 17 years but more seriously for 6 years, and managed to go back to the mid-to-late 18th century with several lines. One, my own maiden name, has me stuck at 1890 |banghead|


04-07-2006, 1:07 AM

Certainly, I'm interested in what they did and where they lived

Yep, thats always very interesting. My main branch lived at a place called Sunrising, which, according to the census was in the parish where I live - however, no such place exists now and I could find no trace of it on any map. Several years later - totally by chance - I was conversing via the web with a lady in the USA and mentioned this place. She provided me with details and even a tithe record for the very place I was looking for! It is under a huge china clay waste tip now - which is why I could not discover it.
Rods scenario is similar to mine in many ways - my family have lived in the same parish from the 1700s at least - and many of the branches also lived in this parish - although occasionally a "foreigner" from the next parish makes an appearence as a spouse!


Burrow Digger
04-07-2006, 1:55 AM
I've traced my maternal grandmothers Stephens and Adams lines back to the 1600s in Cornwall and my paternal grandmothers line back to the Hancocks and Busson of Somerset in the 1600s.

But I am still stuck on my Burrow line from Devon in the mid 1700s. My Stone and Evans line from Devon are also stuck around the late 1700s as well.

Havent even mentioned my Scottish lines yet - but so far I have only one line that goes back to the mid 1700's. All the others are stuck in the early 1800s. I cant afford to spend to much at Scotlands People right now. :(

Burrow Digger

Guy Etchells
04-07-2006, 7:08 AM
One of my lines has been stuck at 1450 since about 1900, I inherited my grandfather's research and have been adding to it all my life and will not manage to finish. I do hope that my children or grandchildren etc. carry on where I left off. Family history never ends there is always something else to discover.

04-07-2006, 10:08 AM
On the 1st night of my research 2 years ago I made tremendous progress on my family name but have not taken a single step since. Records of my Grandfather in Australia were easily found and despite having parents names, occupation and town/county of birth in Wales from the certs I have bought I can't find any clues at all in the UK.
When I started I thought this was going to be a breeze but have since found it frustrating and discouraging. I keep going in the hope and anticipation of letting out the loudest HOORAY ever heard one day when I finally solve the puzzle.

Kind Regards
Peter Euston

04-07-2006, 1:38 PM
Like most other people, I have some back to the 17th and 18th centuries, whilst there are a couple of lines firmly stuck in the 1800's. The glorious thing about family history, is that if you can't go back, you can nearly always go sideways - or is that just me, as I am so easily sidetracked ;)

Best wishes

04-07-2006, 2:08 PM
Like most other people, I have some back to the 17th and 18th centuries, whilst there are a couple of lines firmly stuck in the 1800's. The glorious thing about family history, is that if you can't go back, you can nearly always go sideways - or is that just me, as I am so easily sidetracked ;)

Best wishes

No you are not alone Ann,... I'm like a crab, going sideways quite often when stuck.

I have one line going back to 1500's although I cannot claim this as my own as the earlier work done by my cousin. The furthest I have gone by my own efforts, is late 1700s, which has taken my 5 years. I am only `just' getting the hang of it all, and finding the tools with which to search. I have read quite a bit, and have tried helping other people, as a way of furthering my knowledge of where to look. Quite often I have thought `oh yes, if I applied that to Jimmy's line, it might help'. I also make some stupid blunders, but hey, that's what it's all about! ;)


04-07-2006, 2:23 PM
The first question asked by non-addicts is usually 'How far back have you got ?' Surely a more important question is 'What have you found out along the way ?'

Have you visited the places where your ancestors lived, and perhaps even seen the actual house ? Have you visited the church where they married, baptized and probably buried several of their children ? If many of your ancestors were coalminers (as mine were), have you been down a mine ? Have you ever been REALLY hungry ? Have you considered what life must have been like with water from a well and an earth closet ? Have you thought about seeing your parents or grandparents taken to the Workhouse because they were too old or too ill to support themselves, and you were unable to help ?

Yes, I have lines going back to the early 1500's, and one man that says he was born in Yorkshire c1804, but I think came from Mars. Yes, I have travelled up, down, sideways and every other whichway. Yes, I have spent hours with fiche and film readers, ancient registers, Court Rolls, wills, and any other documents I could get my hands on - and enjoyed every minute !

Not 'How far back' but 'How they used to live.' I think I have learned something of that and am thankful I live now and not then.


Diane Grant-Salmon
04-07-2006, 3:57 PM
I started my research in 1994, after the death of both my Parents ....... how I wish I had begun earlier though! It would have been lovely to tell my Father that his Grandmother was born in Cornwall, as he loved the County, but of course ..... he'll know all about it now! ;)

I had no problems at all with my Mother's Ancestors, as all of them were born in the West Riding of Yorkshire, Wakefield Archives had all the Parish Registers I needed on microfiche and my Auntie gave me a flying start!

I managed to get back to c1550 on the family names, visited all the relevant Churches and graveyards of all the Parishes, but the biggest ordeal for me, was going down the Pit where a lot of the menfolk worked!

It's now The Yorkshire Mining Museum, but it was the Caphouse Colliery in those days. I don't know how they managed it, I was very 'distressed' when I went down there on a tour, with all mod cons of electricity etc.

Some of the houses where my lot lived are still standing, Middlestown being a smallish Village, where my Auntie was born and she knew everybody. Her friends didn't mind giving me a guided tour of 'the old place'!

Before she died in 2004, my Auntie also gave me a book which is all about the Village, its beginnings, the people who lived there and even when the Co-op was founded and by whom ..... very interesting it is too!

04-07-2006, 4:12 PM
I can find the Macaulay side of my tree back as far as this below.
The Hebridean MacAulays trace their descent from Aula or Olave "the black", last King of Man and the Isles who lived during the early 12th century. The MacAulays held Luig on the Isle of Lewis where they were followers of Siol Torquil, the Macleods of Lewis and were bitter enemies of the Morrisons.

The first MacAulay of Lewis on record is Donald Cam, mentioned in 1610, who is said to have been captured along with Torquil Dubh in 1597, but escaped. Donald Cam's son, Angus of Brenish, was killed at Auldern Battle, l645. His son, Dugald, succeeded him as Fear Bhrenis, and his son was Rev. Aulay Macaulay, minister of Harris, married to Rev. Kenneth Morrison's daughter, of Stornoway. His son was the Rev. John Macaulay, Minister of Inveraray, whose son, Zachary, was father of the famous Thomas, Lord Macaulay, poet, essayist, and historian. An M.P. from 1830-56, he was raised to the peerage in 1857, but died unmarried.

The Lewis MacAulays had namesakes, no doubt kinsmen, on the mainland, vassals to the MacKenzies. Lochbroom is said to have been their original possession, a district which the heiress of Duncan MacAulay is said to have given with her hand to the chief of the MacKenzies in the 14th century. The MacAulays of the mainland are coupled with the Maclesys and Macivors in the 15th century as giving trouble to the Earl of Ross and his tenants.

Although little has been written of this clan the Lewis MacAulays appear to have faired better than their southern namesakes. Among their numbers were Lord MacAulay (1800-59) the famous essayist and historian, several notable clergymen and a general in the East India Company.

04-07-2006, 5:53 PM
When I started I thought this was going to be a breeze but have since found it frustrating and discouraging. I keep going in the hope and anticipation of letting out the loudest HOORAY ever heard one day when I finally solve the puzzle.

Perhaps you should put a message in the locality forums on here and see what some of our fellow researchers can come up with. they certainly helped me with some problems, I am sure they could help you get going again.


Simon in Bucks
04-07-2006, 8:53 PM
Such a lot of interesting responses - I've found out some great bits of information on my ancestors using the Census records and also from the BMD Certificates, so a real eye opener.

I'm also keen on going to some of the addresses and looking at the areas they lived in, churches they were married at etc etc. This part will be done at a later date.

Overall, I'm pleased on present progress. My original aim (from 5 months ago) - was to get a complete set of GGG Grandparents (32 names), then I revised that slightly to go back maybe another generation (if possible) using the BMD indexes and Census records.

05-07-2006, 12:29 AM
Good luck in your searches, Simon. If you have as much fun as I have had over the last thirty years since i started my research, you will have a great time. I almost envy you just starting out.


05-07-2006, 6:15 AM
The great thing about the advent of the Internet is the genealogy forums which make it so easy to get in touch with "cousins" researching the same lines. This can really speed up the research process as you compare notes.

I've been lucky enough to find, through forums like this, some real hobby-genealogists who had already taken various of my family lines back three or even more centuries, and who are happy to share. In return, my family kept a lot of family photos dating from before they left England, and the new "cousins" have been pleased to see those and fill in some gaps.

At the moment I am comparing with a distant cousin in Canada, via email, photos of two different headstones we have for the same chap who died in 1861. Both apparently in the same cemetery. Now there's a mystery to get your teeth into!

Dale in New Zealand

05-07-2006, 9:59 AM
Just a piece of advice as I know from experiance that some old cottages ect are no longer standing. You could try zoomable google maps to try and see if the houses you are looking for are still there.

05-07-2006, 2:30 PM
I have been searching for about 7 years now.
I have taken three of my grandparents back to the early/mid 1700s with the VEALE, BESZANT and CARRINGTON families but I am still stuck with my grandfather HARRIS as he seems to have never been born - another one that arrived with an alien landing! I have an hypothetical tree for him but it could be cut down at any time.
I couldn't tell you whether I have the 32 names, as I always seem to be going off along interesting side branches, sometimes they are too intrigueing to ignore. As Ann said, it is very easy to find yourself going sideways!

I'm also keen on going to some of the addresses and looking at the areas they lived in, churches they were married at etc etc. This part will be done at a later date.Don't leave it too long; it is surprising what you find out by chance. Just by being in the place seems to cause you to stumble on snippets that you would not have found from census data and BMD certificates; quite often from the locals with long memories.

There is of course the danger of getting totally obsessed by a place. Researching my Carrington line turned into a One Place Study of Smalley in Derbyshire. Now my curiosity is leading me to researching the history of several of the Smalley families - now that is obsession! |help|

Simon in Bucks
07-07-2006, 5:03 PM
Good luck in your searches, Simon. If you have as much fun as I have had over the last thirty years since i started my research, you will have a great time. I almost envy you just starting out.


If you want a REAL challenge, try finding my GG Grandmother !

Phoebe Rebecca Crapper :-

born - 13th Sept 1849

married - George Peter Holding - 7th Feb 1876

I believe only the 1 son - George John James Holding born 16th May 1876

All 3 on the 1881 Census..............no sign of my GG Grandparents in 1891 !!

No idea if she re-married, had more than one child, when she died etc etc

Would be very much appriciated if anyone might take up the challenge and see if they can locate her.

Paul Becke
03-06-2008, 7:20 PM
Strange you should say that about drinking from a well and using an earth closet, BeeE856. I expect you mean by the latter what the Aussies call a "dunny", from which you bury the excrement soaked in that strange, strong-smelling antispetic in a hole dug in the ground - a chore my uncle did. On reflection, it seems strange that he should have soaked natural manure in disinfectant.

From the mid-forties, my mother used to take us toddlers down to her family home (where my two aunts and youngest uncle still lived), a small-holding in South Wales, run by my grandfather, though I think owned by his sister. Clapper-board walls and corrugated iron roof, the rain used to beat on noisily. The sound of the wind - what a memory. He had a few cattle, some hens and a couple of turkeys.

The water was taken from a nearby well, peat used on the old black, iron range, an oil-cloth on the parlour table, oil lamps, not electricity, a grandfather clock, a radio, which gave out the old shipping forecasts. Malin, Dogger, Fair Isle, Fisher, Rockall, etc. Beds with iron bedsteads and a gezunder. Such sublime memories from infancy.

But I often think of the point you make, when I hear a foreigner expressing admiration for the great train termini in London, the extraordinary, variety of architectural styles juxtaposed and so on; and I point out that they were built with the blood of the country's poor.

Pre-war Britain was a cruel, cruel society, ruled by degenerates. Now, I see that old one-nation Tories are the best we could have hoped for, and now they are gone. New Labour don't even have the mitigating Christian faith of the public-school types.

Anyway, I don't want to get politically polemical, but it does seem very intriguing that some pretty hard-nosed media and showbiz types were reduced to tears or near tears by the thought of the innocent suffering of some of their poverty-stricken forbears. I'm actually convinced that the latter made a psychic connection with them, as I have felt in a more generalised way with my forbears generally.

But the angle of interesting lives, its the assorted, highly respectable sociopaths and psychos in my family tree whose lives make for the most absorbing reading. The history of the world right up to the present day is, after all, largely the record of the ministrations of psychopaths and a few less extreme malefactors, from pole to pole. Even leaving aside the West, think of the rulers currently in power across the globe.

03-06-2008, 7:50 PM
Ive traced my fathers paternal line back to the early 1500s. I was lucky with that one cos they stayed in Lincolnshire.

Ive been addicted to family history since 1990, when I began my quest. I had taken that line back as far as it could go by abt 1995.

But in that time, ive discovered ancestors who were transported, ancestors who went abroad in times past and been able to trace down to the present day, and living distant relatives.

Ive discovered my mothers side were romanies and that led me down a completely different path, a path that has yielded many rewards as so much more was written about these people (if you belonged to the right families). Ive found yet more transportees and felons, and Ive found my family history overall, Ag Labs notwithstanding, a very colourful group of people.

I know, my roots, and I know, who I am, and where I came from, and its all there, in black and white. :)

03-06-2008, 8:22 PM
This thread has been so interesting to read; so many of you have had great success in your search. I have gone back to the late 1700's with my mothers paternal line. The story in the family ws that my gggrandfather was disowned by his shipping magnate father in Germany when he met and married a Cornish girl and stayed here to live. Wrong! I traced this side of my mothers family because of the tale and found from his marriage certificate that his father (my ggggrandfather) worked as a ship's cook!

My gggrandfather married a German girl (got marriage certificate from Germany) they came here to live and eventually settled in Cornwall (Falmouth). My gggrandfather abandoned his wife and surviving children in the 1880's and was never heard of again. I do so hope I can find him
The family didn't move far just up to Somerset where I was born in the 1940's.

I've loved every minute of my search and will carry on. My mother, two sisters and myself are staying for a week in Falmouth in July purely to visit two ancestor's graves and see the houses that they once lived in and the streets they trod. We know one of their houses is now a pub so we can go in and sit where they must have sat - how brilliant!

Blood is truly thicker than water isn't it?


04-06-2008, 8:49 AM
I have been searching for about 12 years on and off, I was lucky with my husbands side as they stayed in one place from 1500 to late 1800's although I did get sidetracked quite a few times,most of them worked in the iron industry, very hard living then I would think, but with my own family like many others I think they arrived by spaceship in or around 1850, as there is no sign of them before that, so I went sideways again and discovered lots of interesting places
and learned a lot along the way, and I am still learning