Family History Research

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Family history research is becoming more and more popular. This is because of TV shows like Who Do You Think You Are and also adverts on TV for Ancestry and Find My Past.

My name is David Oates, I am the Head Researcher at Relative Connections, you can view my LinkedIn by clicking here. I am also the director of the adoption support agency which is regulated by Ofsted. I am a highly regarded and experienced family tracer and intermediary. I have spoken about finding long lost family on BBC Radio 5 and was part of the featured team on BBC1’s Family Finders TV series

Like anything there is much you can do yourself or you can use an expert to do the work for you.

Most people we work with carry out some level of work themselves before hitting a bump in the road and needing an expert to jump in and help.

I thought I’d write this blog post to help people with their own family history research and then explain what we can do too.

Primarily we are a People Finder service, so our focus is on living people, specifically long lost family members. We’ve been featured on BBC1’s TV series Family Finders and we’ve located over 15,000 people over the last ten years. However we also can conduct family history research.

During that time we’ve carried out some really interesting family history research. This is has mainly centred on the following type of searches…

1. People who discover that a relative has passed away but want to know more about their life

These searches are really popular and use our skills and systems to full effect. Its family history combined with our other systems so we can look into the facts of their life, things such as birth, marriages and other family members. We can combine this with searches of addresses, who else they lived with and any other interesting facts. It’s also good for us to look into if they had any other family and see if they are alive and trace those people to a current address.

2. Many people come to us when they can’t find the record of a birth or a death and ask us to investigate

These searches always prove interesting and there are many things we can do away from the online searches. We have access to other systems and also a network of local researchers. Again we look into the person’s life, what happened to them, where they lived, who they lived with, where and how they died and if they have any living relatives for us to locate. These searches are so interesting and give us a real insight into a person or even an entire family.

3. A living relatives search

A search to find a living relative of someone who has passed away. This would be to find out more about the person or the family line. Sometimes a person hears rumours of something that has happened in their family. A child out of wedlock for example and we can look into those situations too and try and find out more about what happened.

4. A genuine Family History search

We can work backwards and do a family tree search. This means we can usually go back further than most simply down to our years of experience, our systems and our skills. At Relative Connections we love to uncover things and report back to our customer. We report back with some interesting fact or piece of information about their family history.

As you can see there are many facets to a family history search and lots that can be done. I think what makes us unique is our genealogy experience coupled with our skills in finding living people and our network of researchers that we can call upon.

Family History Research Services are available from us here at Relative Connections and if you’d like to find out more about any of our services the best way is to call us on 0113 282 5900 and have a quick chat with our friendly team. They can advise you on the best level of service. Alternatively you can click here and go to our Family History Research service page. You can also watch the video below for more useful tips on family history research.

Carrying out your own family history research

If you are looking to carry out your own research the best thing to do would be to subscribe to Ancestry or Find My Past. In our opinion, these are the best two sites in the UK for any type of Family History Research. You do not need both, you can choose which one you like the look and feel of. I believe that both offer free trials. They have very similar information on them. You can look for birth, death and marriage records on these websites and then order the certificates from the General Register Office (GRO) for £9.25 each.

Here is a list of events that are available from the GRO…

1. Events recorded in England and Wales

Record held Explanation Dates
Birth and death records A record of all births and deaths recorded July 1837 to 6 months prior to the present date
Marriage records A record of all marriages recorded July 1837 to 18 months prior to the present date
Civil partnership records A record of all civil partnerships recorded 2005 to present date
Thomas Coram register A record of all children given into the care of the Foundling Hospital 1853 to 1948
Adopted children register A record of all adoptions granted by courts 1927 to present date
Still birth register A record of all still births recorded 1927 to present date
Parental order register A record of all births that have been re-registered on production of a court order where a child has been born via a surrogacy agreement 1994 to present date
Abandoned children register A record of all abandoned babies whose parentage is unknown 1977 to present date
Presumption of death register A records of all events recorded in the presumption of death register where a declaration has been issued by a court in England and Wales 2015 to present date
Gender recognition birth A record of all births re-registered following gender recognition where the original birth is held by GRO 2005 to present date
Gender recognition marriage/civil partnership A record of marriages and civil partnerships re-registered following gender recognition of one or both parties where the original entry is held at GRO 2015 to present date

2. Events recorded abroad

Record Held Explanation Dates
Regimental records Records of births/baptisms, marriages and some deaths relating to British Army regiments 1761 to 1924
Chaplain returns Army chaplains’ records of baptisms, marriages and deaths 1796 to 1880
Ionian Islands records Births, marriages and deaths of the British Garrison on Corfu 1818 to 1864
Marine records Births and deaths at sea 1837 to present date
Consular records Births, marriages civil partnerships and deaths of British subjects registered at British Consulates 1849 to 12 months prior to the present date (birth, marriage and death)
2005 to present date (civil partnerships)
Army records Births, marriages and deaths of members of the British Army or their families, which took place abroad 1881 to 1965
War deaths Deaths of serving personnel during:
The Boer War 1899 to 1902
World War 1 1914 to 1921
World War 2 1939 to 1948
Aircraft records Births and deaths on board British registered aircraft 1947 to present date
Foreign marriage and civil partnership certificates Certificates deposited with the GRO 1948 to 2013 (marriages)
2005 to 2013 (civil partnerships)
High Commission records Births and deaths of British subjects registered at British High Commissions 1949 to present date
Armed forces records Births, marriages, civil partnerships and deaths of members of the British armed forces or their families 1965 to present date (birth, marriage and death)
2005 to present date (civil partnerships)
Installation deaths Deaths of workers on British oil and gas rigs 1971 to present date
Hovercraft records Births and deaths on British registered hovercrafts 1972 to present date

As you can see there is plenty of information that you can look into. To order any of the above you can contact the GRO via their website. Many people find this level of information overwhelming. They don’t know what to search or why to search it and that’s why our services can come in really handy.

It’s a good idea to work out exactly what you are trying to achieve and write that down. If you are not careful you can go off at a real tangent, this is because it’s all so fascinating in its own way.

So for example, if you wanted to find out the following…

“My great grandma born in 1908 had a child but left home when the child (my Grandma) was 3 years old and nobody knew what became of her”


“We always heard stories of my father having a child with another woman after he married our mum. They have both now passed away but we’d love to know if we have an older half-sister”


“My Grandad was married before he met my Grandma and we think he had two children. We’d love to trace this line of the family and find out more about what happened to them”

All these examples would require a lot of work and skill to get to the bottom of. These are exactly the type of work that we enjoy and excel at.

Finally I’d like to tell you a story about a recent family history search we recently did.

We needed to trace a lady born in 1907. We were working for her granddaughter who is herself over 70 years old now.

The lady we were looking for was born in Southampton and we soon found record of her on the 1911 census. This confirmed her birth year, middle name and also gave us her parents’ names and siblings. By the 1939 Register she was no longer living with her family and there was no match in Southampton for a person born in 1907 with that name (which now included her middle name).

From that we were able to establish a possible match on the 1939 Register. This gave us her full date of birth, occupation and a location in Nottingham, at Rampton Prison.

From this we were able to gather further facts and information about her. After the research we ultimately found out that she very sadly took her own life in 1941. She had no children so there was no direct family line. However we were able to go back to the 1911 register and find a sibling. This allowed us to trace that family line forward to a living relative for our customer. Even though her Grandma had passed away in 1941 it was still an emotion time for our customer. That’s something else we appreciate.

When family is involved there are nearly always emotions too. So if you are interested in using our services to find out more about your own family history. Or to trace a living relative or uncover more information about something in your family. Rest assured we will work ethically and support you throughout the whole process.

If you want help to trace your family you can find out more here.

Thank you for reading this short article on Family History Research.