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Stuart0742

Family Tree Tips

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Stuart0742

Suzy has asked for advice in her Happy New Year message, so lets collect together all the advise and tips we have from our great store of Knowledge

My Top tip is to talk to all your older relatives before its to late, you can't go back once they have gone.

Record every thing they tell you as they know things you don't

Then draw out a basic tree with all the information you have been told

and then the fun begins lol

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Guest suzy

Suzy has asked for advice in her Happy New Year message, so lets collect together all the advise and tips we have from our great store of Knowledge

My Top tip is to talk to all your older relatives before its to late, you can't go back once they have gone.

Record every thing they tell you as they know things you don't

Then draw out a basic tree with all the information you have been told

and then the fun begins lol

You are a star Stuart - thank you for starting this thread. lol

I am afraid the majority of my family are no longer around, so I have missed the opportunity to talk to them, sadly, but I do have a few birth/marriage certificates to go on.

What is the best site to subscribe to and for how long, once I have drawn out a basic tree? :huh:

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RichardB

Don't believe the International Genealogical Index ...

Always consider really stupid spellings

Don't give up; we've been looking for one fact (as a family) for 30 years now - still looking (see point 1 above)

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Stuart0742

You are a star Stuart - thank you for starting this thread. lol

I am afraid the majority of my family are no longer around, so I have missed the opportunity to talk to them, sadly, but I do have a few birth/marriage certificates to go on.

What is the best site to subscribe to and for how long, once I have drawn out a basic tree? :huh:

Both myself and DaveH have found Genes Reunited help full, but eventually you will need a site with some records content

FreeBMD is good because its free and has a good reputation for its transcribing accuracy, there are a number of good local sites if your relatives all prove to be local

Sheffield Indexers and Sheffield Records online for instance.

I personally have a subscription to Ancestry.co.uk.

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Syl

A free site that I find useful is Familysearch.org Genes reunited and Ancestry are good for filling in your family tree on line helps you keep a track on things without so many bits of paper which always seem to get mixed up. Another tip is to Google your family name or history or genealogy sites for the district in which they lived that has turned up trumps for me. A final warning it is addictive!!!

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ceegee

My tip is always keep a notebook with you and jot down anything that may be of relevance, The FREE BMD site helped me a lot in the initial stages. And always try if possible to obtain three pieces of information that confirm a fact. Try not to rely on just one source

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DaveH

Both myself and DaveH have found Genes Reunited help full, but eventually you will need a site with some records content

FreeBMD is good because its free and has a good reputation for its transcribing accuracy, there are a number of good local sites if your relatives all prove to be local

Sheffield Indexers and Sheffield Records online for instance.

I personally have a subscription to Ancestry.co.uk.

Both myself and Stuart0742 have spent several years building up quite extensive family histories.

GenesReunited was more helpfull to me than Stuart as it relied on a bit of good luck in finding distant relatives (second cousins, great aunts) who had a link with your family and could probide missing information.

I have used FreeBMD (excellent but not full coverage, getting better)

The IGI Index (not as bad as Richard makes out if you accept its limitations, - it is after all only an index to data held by the Church of Jesus Christ of later day saints)

Find my Past (a pay to view site BUT with excellent coverage and links to order official BMD certificates)

I have tried Ancestry but unlike Stuart I don't like it and don't subscribe.

I find its search facilities are totally useless, much worse than the search facility on Sheffield History and its hard to find anything of relevance.

I also regularly read My Family Tree magazine which contains lots of stories, advice, help columns etc to do with family history research and I find much of this useful.

Every single issue of My Family Tree contains the same set of 7 tips for the beginner

I have found these tips useful over the years, and one of them about elderly relatives is actually Stuarts person tip.

So here are the 7 tips for beginners in family history.

Hope they help suzy and go luck in this venture, there are plenty of members on Sheffield History who are only more than willing to help you.

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Lyn 1

As an experienced family History researcher I would say -

always use original source records such as BMD certificates or Parish Registers entries to confirm you are climbing the right tree.

I have seen some trees on Ancestry that have my ancestors on them and they have perhaps the wrong mother or father for someone. Often the contributors have simply used online records without looking at the primary sources to verify things. They may even have taken their research from someone else's tree and added it to their own to make it fit. Even if someone gives you some information about your family double check it unless they are willing to share their source material with you.

The Mormon Church on Wheel Lane has a family history research centre free to anyone wishing to do research there and they can obtain copies of original PRs for you to look through for anywhere in the country for a small charge. I have used them many times. They also have computer access to Ancestry free of charge.

Happy hunting

Lyn

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dunsbyowl1867

You are a star Stuart - thank you for starting this thread. lol

I am afraid the majority of my family are no longer around, so I have missed the opportunity to talk to them, sadly, but I do have a few birth/marriage certificates to go on.

What is the best site to subscribe to and for how long, once I have drawn out a basic tree? :huh:

Whilst ancestry may have it's faults you can sign up for a free 14 day trial which if you have made notes of everything you want to look at beforehand should be more than enough time to search all the census returns etc. and then cancel the membership!

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DaveH

Whilst ancestry may have it's faults you can sign up for a free 14 day trial which if you have made notes of everything you want to look at beforehand should be more than enough time to search all the census returns etc. and then cancel the membership!

In my experience Dunsbyowl you could spend forever and a day (and that is one hell of a long membership subscription) searching through the stuff on Ancestry and still not find anything remotely connected to your search.

I once had a free trial with Ancestry. Each search threw back hundreds of "matches", none of which were in the slightests bit relevant to what I had searched for in the first place and most of them ignoring all the search criteria bar one.

For example, I searched for members of my Wainwright family ancestors known to live in Sheffield in the 19th Century.

It gave me loads of Wainwrights that lived anywhere in the world except Sheffield

It also gave me Wainwrights living in Sheffield in the 20th century not the 19th even though my search was supposed to have excluded these.

Result, 0ver 700 "matches", none of which were anything to do with my family and many of which were "repeats"

Certainly the experience put me off subscribing to Ancestry or giving them much of a recommendation.

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Lyn 1

I'm not knocking ancestry - I initially took out a 14 day free trial and did just as Dunsby Owl said - had everything noted down that I needed from it so I could get details without having to take out a subscription. I certainly wouldn't have managed to find a missing ancestor without it. Nathaniel was born in Spilsby Lincs. in 1805 and died there in 1884 and was in every census apart from 1871 census when he just couldn't be found there. Ancestry allowed me to find him in Somerset. He had worked for the vicar in Spilsby and when the vicar retired he took Nathaniel and his wife with him - when they retired they came back to Spilsby. Now with the old fashioned methods I would never have managed to find him at all. Never would have dreamt he could have moved so far from home. So I welcome the online stuff and it has also allowed me to find distant cousins and help other people too but I do still say take care not to climb the wrong tree. I have subscribed to Ancestry as I'm involved with other aspects of research but my membership ends shortly.

It is the same with the IGI - the records are transcribed so there may be errors. I mapped out my husband's family roughly via the IGI prior to a visit to Shrewsbury Archives some years ago. On doing the research it showed up I had veered off course via a cousin just for one generation and then gone back on course. Looking at the original PRs showed this up. Trouble is brothers and cousins all used the same Christian family names in each family for each generation in the 1800s and sometimes even further back. I'm sure they are all up there having a good laugh at our expense. That's if any of my lot made it in that direction!

I think Findmypast have a 14 day free trial too on offer. Not sure whether they have it all the time but again it is worth using it for free to obtain as much as you can out of it.

Lyn

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Guest suzy

In my experience Dunsbyowl you could spend forever and a day (and that is one hell of a long membership subscription) searching through the stuff on Ancestry and still not find anything remotely connected to your search.

I once had a free trial with Ancestry. Each search threw back hundreds of "matches", none of which were in the slightests bit relevant to what I had searched for in the first place and most of them ignoring all the search criteria bar one.

For example, I searched for members of my Wainwright family ancestors known to live in Sheffield in the 19th Century.

It gave me loads of Wainwrights that lived anywhere in the world except Sheffield

It also gave me Wainwrights living in Sheffield in the 20th century not the 19th even though my search was supposed to have excluded these.

Result, 0ver 700 "matches", none of which were anything to do with my family and many of which were "repeats"

Certainly the experience put me off subscribing to Ancestry or giving them much of a recommendation.

Thank you to everyone so far who has given their comments. lol

Its very interesting what has been said about Ancestry as that is the one I was thinking about using. However, following on from advice so far, I am going to get all the docs' together that I have, put them in some sort of order, map out a rough tree on paper and keep a notepad to hand to go on Free BMD for starters.

Please keep the advice coming, as its great to learn from others who are going or have gone through this process. In reality I guess it can be quite a tireless task at times and I should have started it long ago when more family members were alive to tell their stories, but I am still determined to give it a go!

Many thanks.

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RichardB

I'm just about to start my 5th year with Ancestry.

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Stuart0742

I'm just about to start my 5th year with Ancestry.

I think I am at about the same, at the end of the day its what you get used to

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DaveH

Thank you to everyone so far who has given their comments. lol

Its very interesting what has been said about Ancestry as that is the one I was thinking about using. However, following on from advice so far, I am going to get all the docs' together that I have, put them in some sort of order, map out a rough tree on paper and keep a notepad to hand to go on Free BMD for starters.

Please keep the advice coming, as its great to learn from others who are going or have gone through this process. In reality I guess it can be quite a tireless task at times and I should have started it long ago when more family members were alive to tell their stories, but I am still determined to give it a go!

Many thanks.

Sure Ancestry will be fine if you can get their search facility to work for you.

Obviously some members can.

I couldn't and found I was just wasting my time trying to find anything.

Top tip has got to be what has already been said suzy,

Get your stuff together that you want to look up and then go for a 14 day or whatever FREE trial.

That way you can try it for nothing and it costs you nothing.

If after the trial you think it is OK you can take out a subscription

Or if you have an experience like me you can look elsewhere at other similar sites and it won't have cost you anything

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Guest suzy

Sure Ancestry will be fine if you can get their search facility to work for you.

Obviously some members can.

I couldn't and found I was just wasting my time trying to find anything.

Top tip has got to be what has already been said suzy,

Get your stuff together that you want to look up and then go for a 14 day or whatever FREE trial.

That way you can try it for nothing and it costs you nothing.

If after the trial you think it is OK you can take out a subscription

Or if you have an experience like me you can look elsewhere at other similar sites and it won't have cost you anything

Thanks everyone. I will indeed go for the 14 day trials, having got all my documents in order.

Keep the advice rolling in lol

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DaveH

Thanks everyone. I will indeed go for the 14 day trials, having got all my documents in order.

Keep the advice rolling in lol

Another tip suzy,

You need help and support from people who know what they are doing as you carry out your research.

I have already said that there are quite a few of them on this site all very willing to give you any help they can.

From my personal experience again Stuart0742 had started family history several years before I got around to it so that when I finally got started his help and support was invaluable.

You need good friends like that.

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Guest babybluejojo

Hiya Everyone

Has everyone forgotten that Ancestry.com is searchable for free at your local library/local Studies/Sheffield Archives??????

I regularly go to my library's and local studies centres to use Ancestry. You need to type in www.ancestrylibrary.com to get onto it for free. Just to verify it is ONLY FREE AT THE LIBRARYS/LOCAL STUDIES/Sheffield Archives! You can not get it for free at home! :blink: (Just in case you wondered!!)

I have had some success with ancestry but regularly use FreeBMD and FreeCen (who I transcribe for) and FreeReg to find information. I DO NOT subscribe to any but have used Pay-as-You-Go credits on both Find My Past and 1911 Census.

I agree that you should cross check what information you find. At the moment I am waiting till I have enough money to get certain certificates to verify the information that I require to ensure that I am following the right lines. Like another person on here I am not in contact with any of my family so can not get any information that way.

I am helping other people find their ancestors (see my other posts) and do not mind helping anyone else that I can.

Sorry just thought I would put in my 2 pennyworth in as it seemed that everyone had forgotten about the local libraries that need all the support that they can get in this economic climate!!!

Hugs

Jo

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DaveH

Hiya Everyone

Has everyone forgotten that Ancestry.com is searchable for free at your local library/local Studies/Sheffield Archives??????

I regularly go to my library's and local studies centres to use Ancestry. You need to type in www.ancestrylibrary.com to get onto it for free. Just to verify it is ONLY FREE AT THE LIBRARYS/LOCAL STUDIES/Sheffield Archives! You can not get it for free at home! :blink: (Just in case you wondered!!)

I have had some success with ancestry but regularly use FreeBMD and FreeCen (who I transcribe for) and FreeReg to find information. I DO NOT subscribe to any but have used Pay-as-You-Go credits on both Find My Past and 1911 Census.

I agree that you should cross check what information you find. At the moment I am waiting till I have enough money to get certain certificates to verify the information that I require to ensure that I am following the right lines. Like another person on here I am not in contact with any of my family so can not get any information that way.

I am helping other people find their ancestors (see my other posts) and do not mind helping anyone else that I can.

Sorry just thought I would put in my 2 pennyworth in as it seemed that everyone had forgotten about the local libraries that need all the support that they can get in this economic climate!!!

Hugs

Jo

Have I been doing something when going onto Ancestry then? and is that why I have so many problems with it.

You quote the site as being ancestry.com

I have always used ancestry.co.uk

As all my ancestory are British for as far back as records go, and none of them of any importance emigrated to the USA this seemed a sensible thing to do.

ancestry.com seems to give hundreds of matches to American people with the same name that you searched for but noticably any or not very many British ones.

Would I have more luck with my searches if I used the .com version rather than the .co.uk ?

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Guest babybluejojo

At the library they are subscribed to ancestry.com not ancestry.co.uk. When I first started out on this journey I was told that to access the free library subscription I had to put in ancestrylibrary.com to access it otherwise it wouldn't work.

There is an option to search by British things first instead of American ones. Also bear in mind that you don't know where your research will take you. There is a possibility in one line of my family that they emigrated to Australia and another to America so by them subscribing to .com instead of .co.uk it leaves options like this open.

If you want to meet up with me sometime for me to help you with this then I am happy to do so - and anyone else.

Good Luck.

Jo

Have I been doing something when going onto Ancestry then? and is that why I have so many problems with it.

You quote the site as being ancestry.com

I have always used ancestry.co.uk

As all my ancestory are British for as far back as records go, and none of them of any importance emigrated to the USA this seemed a sensible thing to do.

ancestry.com seems to give hundreds of matches to American people with the same name that you searched for but noticably any or not very many British ones.

Would I have more luck with my searches if I used the .com version rather than the .co.uk ?

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Lyn 1

I used to be a regular at the local studies and the archives but due to health problems and other responsibilities I find it difficult to go as much as I would like to. Plus if you have all your family history on computer at home you can browse at leisure so for some of us a subscription is the answer.

Lyn

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Guest babybluejojo

Hiya Lyn

That is understandable. I suffer with Agoraphobia when my depression is bad and I find it hard to get out and about when I am like that. I also suffer with joint problems too so this makes it difficult me getting about too.

People were pointing out various sites to go to (with and without subscriptions but had noticed that no one had mentioned about getting some information through the local library. I just wanted to point out that IF you are able you can go to other places and access ancestry for free. If subscription is the better option for your circumstances then that is fine.

I browse quite happily at home for my family history where I can for free on my pc and what I can't find I then go to the library and look up on ancestry without having a subscription. I am not in a position to pay for a subscription and have to rely on the things that I can access for free and I am sure that there are many people in the same position.

I was not having a go at anyone and I apologise if my previous post came across this way - it was not my intention. I was just trying to add to the information that is listed here.

Hugs

Jo

I used to be a regular at the local studies and the archives but due to health problems and other responsibilities I find it difficult to go as much as I would like to. Plus if you have all your family history on computer at home you can browse at leisure so for some of us a subscription is the answer.

Lyn

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ukelele lady

As an experienced family History researcher I would say -

always use original source records such as BMD certificates or Parish Registers entries to confirm you are climbing the right tree.

I have seen some trees on Ancestry that have my ancestors on them and they have perhaps the wrong mother or father for someone. Often the contributors have simply used online records without looking at the primary sources to verify things. They may even have taken their research from someone else's tree and added it to their own to make it fit. Even if someone gives you some information about your family double check it unless they are willing to share their source material with you.

The Mormon Church on Wheel Lane has a family history research centre free to anyone wishing to do research there and they can obtain copies of original PRs for you to look through for anywhere in the country for a small charge. I have used them many times. They also have computer access to Ancestry free of charge.

Happy hunting

Lyn

I agree with every thing Lyn says, I was given some false information some years ago which sent me

down the wrong path.

I've been doing this fifteen years now and have gone as far as I can go [1722 in Sheffield] the next

search is Cumberland.

It's never cost me a penny only in certificates as I've never subscribed to anything.

Never believe any information unless you can back it up with the document.

Some documents in the archives have been transcribed incorrectly as I have found when I've looked

at the genuine document,

You can order the genuine church books from the strong room in the archives, you'd be amazed

what you find in those, even relatives who you weren't really looking for.

The books can also give age, occupation and addresses of a time before the census started.

Good luck.

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Lyn 1

Ukelele lady - my family came from Cumberland.

Jo - wasn't having a go at you. Just wish I still had the time and the energy to do what I do best. Love that eureka moment in the achives when you should be quiet but just want to give a big yell and shout - look who I've just found!

A littll help for those that need it -

The first step in researching your family history is to decide the line you wish to follow: the male line is the easiest as the surname usually stays the same throughout. Some people research all lines but bear in mind that we all have 4 grandparents, each of whom have 2 parents, making 8 great grandparents in total. This doubles up for each generation we go back. 16, 32, 64, 128 and so on. It is easy to get swamped by too much information if you do not work in an organised way. We start with what we do know and then look at what we need to know to progress further back. It is best to keep the information all together in something like a ring binder.

Bear in mind also that sometimes our forebears married more than once due to a high mortality rate; widows needed support and income to help care for their children, widowers needed a housekeeper and someone perhaps to care for their motherless children.

The first thing to do is draw up an outline family tree from the information you already know about your family. This is often referred to as the skeleton. By adding census and other family details obtained from your research you are putting the flesh on the bones.

Secondly, organise that information by having a form or sheet of paper for each family group and their known details. E.g. Grandparents and family. Full name, date of birth/baptism, date/place of marriage, date of death/place of burial. Note their occupations and the addresses the family lived at. Add all their known children and their details too. Remember not everyone went by his or her proper Christian names, many used pet names. Think around what you want to know. If you don't know a grandparent's birth date/year, do you know their death year and if so what about the age they were when they died? If you know this then you can then work out their approximate year of birth.

Ask questions of all family members especially the older ones. Remember it is sometimes the youngest daughter of a family who looked after the aged parents so they are often the one with more knowledge of memories and documents than say the elder son. Ask about aunts, uncles and cousins. If they are still around they may have old family photos or remember things your own relatives don't recall.

Ask the same questions of everyone. You may get different answers sometimes but hopefully most of them will be of some use to you.

Record on tape if possible. This will save you time, is easier than making notes and will save you making mistakes. Make sure you keep a record of the person you have interviewed and the date.

Remember what older people can't remember today they may remember tomorrow. Keep notes and make lists of questions you want to ask.

Questions to ask.

• The correct and full name of people, the main events in their lives. Births, marriages, dates and places. Full and correct names of their spouse/spouses and relevant dates. Where people lived, worked, went to school, leisure interests and military service.

• Ask the same sort of questions about their parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles. Establish whether the aunts and uncles were on their mothers or fathers side of the family. Ask about physical appearances and their personalities especially where there are only black and white photographs of people or none at all of people long since dead.

• Ask for photos or the loan of them to have copied. Always put names and dates on the back of photos preferably in pencil. They are no use to anyone if the only person, who knows who they are, dies without anyone else having a clue.

• Ask about any family documents, certificates, wills, memberships and especially military service documents as usually these give details of where and when a person served as well as a physical description of them. Are there any newspaper announcements of births, marriages and deaths? What about the black edged memorial cards. They were popular from Victorian times until as late as the 1950s.

• Why did people decide to move house? Was it to coincide with a new job or an increase in the family?

Don't leave it too late. Ask now. Next week could be too late.

Civil registration

This began in July 1837 when it became law to register all births, marriages and deaths and certificates of the event were issued. Records of all these events are kept by the Registrar at local register offices but copies were also sent to London to St Catherine's House formerly known as Somerset House. These are indexed and copies of these indexes can be searched by fiche/microfilm at the Sheffield Archives and the Mormon Family History Centre. They are generally known as the GRO indexes or the St Cath's index. There are maps relating to the registration areas to help ascertain a particular area and usually there is a list of Registry Office addresses available too. When you find the reference that relates to your family you can then purchase the certificate from the local registry office by giving them full details of the person/people the certificate is required for and place/year of the event. These certificates will hopefully give you the information you require to carry on your research.

There can be a problem in particular with failing to find a birth registration in the early years of Civil Registration. Many people believed that by having their child baptised in church they did not need to register them. In 1875 when fines were introduced for non registration then more people did conform to the law. It was also quite easy to give an illegitimate child what appears to be a 'legitimate' birth making it appear as if the parents were married when in fact they weren't. Remember also that a birth could be registered anytime up to 6 weeks after the event. There is also the possibility of late registration i.e. A parent may have failed to register the event within this 6 week period and to avoid paying a fine would give the child a later birth date. Generally speaking deaths were registered within a day or two of the event taking place but do remember that a death had to be registered in the registration district it occurred in.

The GRO or St Cath's Index gives the year, quarter, surname, Christian name, place, volume number and page number to enable you to obtain a certificate.

From 1866 the index of deaths shows the age at death.

1911 Sept quarter onwards shows the mother's maiden name in index of births.

1912 Spouse's surname is given in marriage index.

1969 Death Indexes includes the date of birth.

Information to be found on certificates is as follows –

Birth certificates give the date of birth, place of birth, name, sex, mother's name and maiden name, father's name and occupation and the name and address of the informant. If there is a time of birth this usually indicates a multiple birth. Twins or even triplets!

Marriage certificates contain the date of the event, the place of marriage, names of both the bride and groom, addresses of the bride and groom, their occupations, *ages, names of both their fathers and their occupations. It can also indicate whether a couple could sign their own name too, though often the vicar or registrar wrongly assuming that they could not read or write, may have simply said to the person involved 'make your mark here' and the person may have done just that even if they were able to sign their name. It also tells whether the ceremony was by banns or licence.

Note also the names of the witnesses on the certificate as they may be in some way related. Quite often you may find that the couple gave the same address implying that they lived together before marriage. If the bride and groom lived in two different parishes this meant the banns had to be called in both parishes for 3 weeks prior to the wedding taking place. As it could be quite difficult due to transport difficulties and work commitments to be present at the calling of the banns in both parishes as was usually required, using the same address for the bride and groom solved this problem.

*Ages. Of full age does not necessarily mean over 21 as the age at which a person could legally marry has changed over the years. Certainly in the 1800s ages can be unreliable for various reasons. Until 1929 the age at which a person could marry was 12 years for girls and 14 years for boys. Do bear in mind though that in many cases, people did not marry until around 25 years of age. Usually older working children would stay at home longer to help financially with bringing up their siblings. Large families were common place so there were many more mouths to feed. Many men were also apprentices so would not be able to marry until their apprenticeship was finished due to the low wages they earned.

Death certificates give the date and place of death, name of the person, their sex, age, cause of death and the name and address of the informant. It may also state whether the informant was present at the death. Ages on death certificates especially for someone born prior to civil registration can often be not only incorrect but also way off the mark. With no birth certificate to rely on people often could only guess at their ages. Celebrating birthdays was not as important as working to put food in their bellies! Day to day living took their toll and people often looked much older than they actually were.

Adoption did not become legal until 1926. Until that date (and sometimes after) adoption was an informal, unrecorded arrangement with family members, friends or even neighbours taking a child into their care rather than seeing them end up in the workhouse. As yet there are no divorce records accessible to the general public.

Civil Registration in Scotland began in 1855 and in Ireland in 1864.

I can post more if you wish me to.

Lyn

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Guest suzy

Lyn

Thank you so much - thats all very useful information for me and others who are just starting out.

I was wondering which line to follow first, but from what you have said I am probably better starting out with my Dad's family first. I have more documentary evidence for his side of the family, but unfortunately he died young at aged 48, followed two weeks later by his Sister aged 36 and 6 months later by his father. :( So my chances of talking to relatives on his side are long gone, but I am lucky to have some photos and death/marriage certificates to start off with.

I dont live in or near Sheffiled any more so am more tied to using online services, but on my next visit, probably in the Summer, I shall take some time to try and do research from libraries as suggested. Would that be my best bet?

Thank you again to everyone for their invaluable comments/advice posted so far.

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