Where do I start?


Question: How can you help me with my family history research?

I live thousands of miles away from where my ancestors lived. How can I find out about them? (A very relevant question we sometimes receive from our members in Australia, the US, Canada, New Zealand, mainland Europe and across the world!)

If you are not living in the UK…

  • Do you have any documentation to show when and where your ancestor first entered your country?
  • Did they later take up citizenship?
  • Do you have any census details after arrival in your country?

Any of these documents will hopefully give details of age, place of birth, occupation and, possibly, their father’s name and occupation.

Whether you live in the Uk or not…

The last British census available to the public is that of 1911 as well as a special one taken in 1939, so if we can place your ancestor somewhere in 1911 or 1939, we can then work back through the censuses to 1841.

Births, marriages and deaths

Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths began in July 1837. Before that date we have to consult Parish registers to trace families.

How to begin

If you were starting from scratch, without knowing anything at all, I would say to you:

(1) You probably know your father’s name and your mother’s maiden name. You should be able to look in the records to find where they were married and then obtain a copy of their marriage certificate (which in England would give the names and occupations of both bride’s and groom’s fathers and where they were living at the time of marriage).

(2) Knowing where they were living at the time of their marriage, take a look on the nearest census to that date to find out where they were born, and the names of their mothers. The ages given on the census should enable you to work out an approximate date of birth.

(3) Look on the birth index to find where the birth was listed. Apply for a copy of the birth certificate. This will give you the mother’s maiden name. You are now in a position to repeat the process and gradually work backwards.

You may need to subscribe to a genealogy company to get these details but we can sometimes help you.

Does this give you an idea of what to do next?

You may also like to consider joining the Entwistle Family History Association, as we are able to undertake research for members, and may even be able to put you in touch with someone researching the same family!