Genealogy SIG Newsletter: May 2013
What’s new on Ancestry

Ancestry has numerous updates relating to the 1901 and 1911 census for England, Wales, Channel Islands and Isle of Man, as well as updates for the FreeBMD Birth and Death Index (1837-1915) and the Liverpool Parish Register collection. These are probably corrections rather than additions, but well worth checking out if you are missing something!

Also on Ancestry

What’s new on Findmypast

Researching living relatives

Slightly different from last month, where we concentrated on finding the dead, this month's topic is researching living relatives. I am sure many of us have uncovered unknown uncles and aunts, or great uncles and aunts, and wonder if there are any living descendants who might be able to shed some light on our research, or even have photos and documents to share.

Working from the 1911 census to the present day, what sort of records are available?

The first place to start is really with memories of living relatives, asking around the family, questioning elderly relatives, contacting fellow researchers.

If you know some family names then see what can be found in the BMD index. Tracing children born after 1911 is made easier as the mother's maiden name is shown on the BMD index - therefore you can search using both the father's surname and mother's maiden name. Success using this method can of course be varied, depending on how common the names are and whether the family stayed in one place or moved around the country. Finding entries listed over a 10 or 15 year period in the same registration district, with correct father's surname and mother's surname, means you may have identified children from that marriage. Of course, you may need to purchase certificates to prove this, but at least you get some idea of possible family names and descendants to follow through.

Using Wills: The National Probate Calendar, available on Ancestry, now extends to 1966. Finding a more recent entry in the calendar may provide you with names of family members.

Electoral registers recorded the names of everyone in a property who was eligible to vote. Such registers for London (to 1965) and The Midlands (to 1955) can be found on Ancestry. Current and recent electoral registers can also be viewed on sites such as Findmypast, Tracesmart and as well as local libraries or record offices in the UK.

Telephone directories are also a useful source of information when trying to track down living relatives. The official version can be found on the BT website; some have also been transcribed on Ancestry (British Phone Books, 1880-1984).

Searching online trees or using genealogy websites may put you in contact with relatives researching the same ancestral lines as you.

.. and don't forget GOOGLE, or similar search engines.

Missing persons/lost relatives websites:

Looking for someone, don't forget to use social and business networking sites, for example:

Making contact
Once you have found the location of living relatives it may be very tempting just to give them a call or turn up at a house! However, it's usually better to make your initial approach in writing by post or email, enclosing maybe a few documents to show your connection or mentioning the names of relatives in common. With so many scams going around nowadays, people are naturally very wary of an approach from a stranger so reassure the contact that your motives are genuine and you only want to exchange information about your shared ancestry.

A question many of you have probably asked yourself - or asked me!
"I've just made contact with the grandaughter of my great grandmother's brother - what relation are we?"
You know the sort of thing I mean!

I've attached below a very simple chart that you can use to calculate relationships.

The first thing you need to establish is your common ancestor. This may mean working back a generation or two. Using the example I have given, the common ancestor is going to be your great great grandparents and your contact's great grandparents.

  • Starting at the top left row (common ancestor) work along horizontally until you find your relationship with the common ancestor (great great grandson/daughter) - keep your finger there!
  • Again starting at the top left row (common ancestor), work down vertically until you find your contact's relationship to the common ancestor (great grandson/daughter). Keep second finger there!
  • Bring first finger down vertically, move second finger across horizontally and see where they meet - in this case second cousin once removed - and that is the relationship between you and your new contact!

It sounds complicated but if you print the chart and have a go I think you'll find it self explanatory!

You will also find that most genealogy programs will calculate relationships, providing of course you have both people entered on your tree. In the case of Family Tree Maker relationships are calculated via TOOLS > RELATIONSHIPS CALCULATOR . Select the two people on your tree and it will automatically calculate the relationship.

Until next month - good luck with the research!

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