Ask An Expert

Welcome to our web chat

Anthony Adolph, professional genealogistWelcome to the Genes Reunited web chat, where you can get help and advice from our resident genealogist and expert family historian, Anthony Adolph. To find out more about Anthony click here.

Thanks again to Anthony and everyone who joined in on the sessions so far.

Search Ask an Expert


Questions already answered

Page 0 + 1 of 134

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. »
Name Date
Robin Milner 2003/07/15 09:55:06 PM

Hi Anthony, if you know your ancestors were born and bred in a particular area, but you cant find them in the parish registers, where else would you look. I have some ancestors in Tendring and haved found there graves but nothing in the registers.

There are a number of possibilities here, but one is that the family were non-conformists. In other words, they were being buried in the graveyard, but being baptised and married in their own denominational chapel. Do you know of any non-conformity in the family?

Pamela Clarke 2003/07/15 09:57:35 PM

I am trying to trace an ancester, Henry Watson who was present in the 1841 census, but recorded as deceased on his sons birth certificate in August of 1841. He was a mariner, his death does not appear to have been registered in the general index, or the deaths reported at sea/abroad (I have checked both at Myddleton St there are only about 6 for the whole of England in the relevant period). Where else could I search for a record of the death?

You've got a very narrow window here, as the census of 1841 was taken on 6 June. If you've exhausted all the sources for deaths at sea, you could try the indexes to the Times to see if his death was reported (in an accident, for example) or you could look in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury will indexes at the Family Records Centre to see if a will was proved after he died.

Donna Thresher 2003/07/15 09:57:49 PM

Is there any site or organisation trying to link family trees together?

Very simple answer here- this one! If you've entered all your family history details, you may very well find that other people with the same ancestors will enter their details. Linking family trees up is what all genealogists really love doing, and this site is way ahead of any others in managing to do that.

Robin Milner 2003/07/15 09:57:52 PM

no i havent Anthony, but if there is wher would i look next??

Most non-conformist baptisms and marriages are indexed on the IGI- Tendring is in Essex, and there was a lot of non-conformity about. The other possibilities are that the family came from Tendring originally and, although living elsewhere, still wanted to be buried there. Two other suggestions- use the dates on the graves to look for family wills, which would be proved at Chelmsford, or see if there are any manorial records. If the family tenanted land from the manor they will be listed, what ever denomination they were.

Tricia * 2003/07/15 09:59:03 PM

hi can you tell me how I can find siblings for relatives prior to 1837. other than igi.bmd and census Tricia

Wills. you'll probably find me suggesting wills a lot on this q. and a. site, simply because they're so useful. The other thing to say is that the family may not be in the IGI simply because the Mormons haven't got round to indexing the relevant registers yet- so have you tried looking in the original parish registers?

Sue Stevens 2003/07/15 10:00:49 PM

Trying to trace my g grandfather. He appeared on marriage cert to my g grandfather in 1893 aged 24. Can't find on any prior or later census. Nothing on IGI or freebmd. I've also been to FRC and can't find his birth registered. He has a very unusual name and I would have thought he was easy to find but he's not. Any ideas on how to find out where and when he was born?

I had to smile here- I'm sure you mean he married your great grandmother, not great grandfather. It's a shame he does not appear in the 1901 census, but there have been problems with the quality of the indexing. Have you considered whether he was born abroad, ie outside England and Wales? Did you know that Scotland, Ireland, the isle of Man, and several of the Channel Islands all had their own civil registration systems, to say nothing of the British who were born in colonies all round the world, including India? Does his distinctive name point to anywhere else in particular?

Tricia * 2003/07/15 10:00:54 PM

Hi Can you tell me how I can find siblings for relatives prior to 1837. Other than IGI, BMD and census. Thanks Tricia

Wills. you'll probably find me suggesting wills a lot on this q. and a. site, simply because they're so useful. The other thing to say is that the family may not be in the IGI simply because the Mormons haven't got round to indexing the relevant registers yet- so have you tried looking in the original parish registers?

Debra Robertson 2003/07/15 10:01:58 PM

My granddad left family in Edinburgh and went to Canada approx 1940/50 he left a will to living Robertson's in Edinburgh which went to my father and other members of the family. How can I find out if he had family in Canada.

Tricky! Unlike England, Canada's records are divided up province by province. If you have no idea to which province he went you could have a really long search on your hands. However, you could simply use the Internet to get a list of all Robertsons in Canada, and start ringing. A client of mine once had a list of 400 women in Australia who could have been her mother. She started ringing them and, honestly, the first one she spoke to turned out to be the right one!

Maggy Allinson 2003/07/15 10:03:52 PM

My Grandad has no fathers name on his birth and marriage certificate. Is there any way of find out who his father was? My only clue is my Grandad's middle name was Stevenson, possibly his fathers name?

Excellent. The absence of a father's name from the records you mention is a strong indicator of illegitimacy but registrars and clergy alike were reasonably insistent on mothers giving their children middle names reflecting the real father's surname. Actually, the child's first name could be the real father's too. Stevenson is a popular name, which is a shame, but you can still look for likely Mr Stevensons in the area where the child was born, using directories, electoral registers or, if your grandfather was born early enough, the 1901 census. On very lucky occasions, censuses reveal the future mothers of illegitimate children living with the future fathers.

Robin Milner 2003/07/15 10:05:19 PM

How often and why did farms change names.

I'm not a real farm name expert, but I think that, until relatively recently, many farms were known officially or not by the name of their owner. ie, if Pengelly was the farmer, the farm would be known as Pengelly's, and if the family changed then so could the name. you can check out the farm in question through censuses (back to 1841) and before then tithe maps and the host of records stored in the parish chest which should now be in the relevant county record office.

Jill King 2003/07/15 10:06:06 PM

i've searched for the death of a rellie in ww1 we no he died then but can find nothing on his death,i've looked on cwgc also and found nothing where to now?? many thanks Jill from Cardiff

The main sources are World War One Army Deaths at the Family Record Centre. However, there are many books and rolls of honour. Try 'Soldiers Died in the Great War', HMSO, (1919-1921), repr. Hayward (1989), and a similar work for officers (1919), available in good genealogical libraries. 'National Roll of the Great War 1914-1918', National Publishing Company, 14 vols, (1918-1921): The Marquis de Ruvigny’s The Roll of Honour, a biographical record of members of His Majesty’s naval and military forces who fell in the Great war 1914-1918 and there is also a useful website,, an

Carmel Proctor 2003/07/15 10:06:51 PM


Yes, it's perfectly possible. With all the good will in the world, no index is free of mistakes and it's worth making the point here, for those who haven't had it drummed into them, that NO index or secondary source should be taken as gospel. If in doubt, always check the originals. In this case, the originals are the index volumes to marriages in the relevant Registrar's office, or you can check one step down the line with the national General Registration indexes at the family Records Centre.

Karen Tempest 2003/07/15 10:10:01 PM

Hi Anthony My great uncle emigrated to Canada before the second world war. I know his date of birth etc: but do not know where in Canada he lived or what year he emigrated. Do you think there is a possibility I could find his whereabouts when he was alive? Thanks Karen Gilbert

I answered a similar one to this earlier. Canada's records are divided up province by province. If you have no idea to which province he went you could have a really long search on your hands. However, you could simply use the Internet to get a list anyone of the same surname in Canada, and start ringing them. The other option would be trace other relatives of yours in this country and see if they kept in touch with your great uncle and his family. Women tend to be better at corresponding than men, so seek out descendants of his sisters, who may have kept correspondence.

Sue Stevens 2003/07/15 10:12:07 PM

Hi Anthony, Merchant seaman records is my query where is the best place to look for records between 1894 and 1900. Thanks Sue

The answer is the National Archives at Kew, and failing that the University of Newfoundland has a large collection of records for the British Merchant Navy. Merchant navy records are tricky as most are arranged ship-by-ship. An excellent guide is K. Smith. C.Watts and M.Watts’ Records of merchant shipping and seamen, PRO Publications (1998)- worth a read if you want to do the searching yourself

Donna Thresher 2003/07/15 10:12:37 PM

I have manged to link up with someone but or trees basically remain seperate, how can we endeavour to create the mystical 'one big family' if we dont link? I guess what I want to know is there a site that contains software to search individual trees for linking or common data so that individuals can check and either afirm or dismiss the link?

Your aim is to see if you and your correspondent really can prove that you have an ancestor in common, and that you are certainly cousins. The answer is probably going to lie away from software and websites and in the archives, where record-based research remains the fundamental basis of this wonderful subject. Original research is the answer! Alternatively, if you believe you are related in a direct male-to-male line, you could try a DNA test to see if your genes match up.

Angela Scott 2003/07/15 10:13:54 PM

I've located both my great great grandfather and great great great grandfather who were licensed victuallers at the turn of the C19th - C20th in Portsmouth. I've found out the names of the pubs they ran but I'm stumped where to go next to find out more. We don't have any family to ask as my great grandparents on this side we both killed during the war. Thanks Angela.

It's worth asking the breweries who own the pubs if they've ever had pub histories researched. As to tracing further back, try looking in the census returns, where you should find the publicans in their pubs. The 1901 census is on-line and sounds like your best best as a first port-of-call.

Margaret Lawrence 2003/07/15 10:13:58 PM

Trying to trace my great grandfather's family I think they came from Newcastle area in England nothing on free BMD died in Scotland have traced death cert.

Quite a few people have mentioned FreeBMD tonight, saying they cannot find what they want on it. I think it's important to say that it's a growing index but miles off being completed, and meanwhile the General Registration indexes themselves (at the Family Records Centre and copies arounf the country) remain the real staple of 20th and 19th century research. So that's the place to continue the search, unless the person was indeed born in Scotland, in which case you can search the Scottish General Registration records instead.

Pamela Clarke 2003/07/15 10:14:48 PM

Antony, He actually lived in Sunderland Co Durham, and was only about 41 when he died, possibly he wouldnt have had a will, would estates of intestates have to have had letters of administration at that date? and would Canetbury be relevant? I am not sure if he was a coastal or deepwater seaman, and I think it is a bit too early for a seamans ticket, are you aware if there are any local or national records of seamen or ports at the PRO which might help? eg if he signed on a ship in Sunderland after the census it wouldnt be too hard to check.

Fair points here, but many seamen going to sea wrote wills simply to dispose of their wages in the event of untimely death. The Prerogative Court of Canterbury had a misleading name. It was the Archbishop's court, and sat in LOndon, having juristiction over the whole country and, essentially here, deaths at sea!

Sue Stevens 2003/07/15 10:18:53 PM

Where should I look to find out about a death of a relative if they went to live in America.

if you do not know where the person died, then my remarks about Canada, below, are relevant here. If you do know, then you can organise a search in the relevant General Registration records.

Margaret Grant 2003/07/15 10:21:41 PM

On the 1881 census the address is given as The House, Wick Scotland. How can I find the full address? Thanks

There will also be reference numbers, which would indicate where the place Wick was. But in the unlikely event of that not being the case, you could seek Wick in gazeteers. Another suggestion- use the information given in the census to seek the births and marriages of the family in question, and their records will no doubt give a big clue as to the full location of the place where they were living.