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How we started tracing our family tree

While we were on a caravan holiday in Scotland we noticed that many people were buying souvenirs relating to their Scottish names or Clans. We noticed that the Scottish version of the Gray name was spelled with an A (as our surname was) and not with an E as many were in England. This started our interest and we began to research the History of our families. Because of the name Gray, I assumed that my family would have originated from Scotland and Sylvia thought that her family came from Durham.  We were both wrong. I was surprised to find my family had originated in a small village in Dorset called Thornford and Sylvia’s Family came from  Kilconquhar Fife in Scotland.

Thornford Parish Church. Dorset

Kilconquhar church Fife Scotland

Thornford Village Information and Family History Links

The above Link will take you to the Thornford Page with Census Wills, Roll of honour Information and much More.

Kilconquhar village Wiki Page

Contents of Site

When we got back from holiday we did not know where to start looking to trace our families because many of the older members of the family, who would have known about their own relatives, had passed on and we were left with our own memories of names and relations. I knew my Grandparents names  and so (as access to computers was rare and Information online virtually non existent) we took a trip to the Family History centre, which was then located in the City of London. We searched through the Indexes for Births of the names we knew.  We then went home to await the arrival of the certificates. (This can now be done in comfort by searching online at freeBDM. And then ordering the Cetificate online at the General register office ) The birth certificate is the start of the journey as it shows place and date of birth (Often at home in earlier times) The Father and Mother’s names and the Mother’s Maiden name and the Father’s occupation. The names are very important as many people go throughout their whole life using their middle or nicknames.

The next step is to find the persons marriage certificate and as you now have the mothers Maiden name you can search for this at freebdm. This Certificate is important as it will tell you the Fathers name of both the bride and groom and their occupations. It also sometimes gives their address before the marriage.

Now you have the Fathers names you can move to the next generation and send off for their certificates. You can use this method until you reach beyond the start of Civil registration which started in 1837, beyond this you will need to search the parish records which will in some cases take you back to the 1500s if you are lucky. Many local record centres will hold transcripts of the old parish records of their area and there are many that have been transcribed and are searchable onine, Freereg.is a site dedicated to transcribing all parish records and offering a free search. You will quite often hit a brick wall in your research but don’t give up. As you learn more and more about your ancestors you will get hints and start to move on again. There are many free transcriptions  on this site divided by County or Country at this page Search by County or Country.

Once you have started you will get the bug and will want to fill in all the gaps.  One of the best resources for this is the census. A census of the population has been held every 10yrs starting in 1841. This information is kept private for 100yrs but every 10yrs another census becomes available to view.

The most recent to be released is the 1911

Census. So you can find where your family were, who lived with them, what age they were and what their jobs were. More important it will tell you where they were born. You can search and view these records at various local records offices or you can search online. Freecen is the most popular but if you have a subscription to a Family History Site you will be able to search there. You will have access to 1841,1851,1861,1871,1881,

1891,1901 and 1911 so if your ancestor was alive at the time of the census you should be able to find them. Ancestry.co.uk is a very good site to subscribe to as you will be able to build your tree online and you will get hints to enable you to fill in the gaps and expand on your ancestors lives as many members will upload stories and photos of their Ancestors who may well also be your ancestors. Also to fill in gaps and help your search try to obtain Death certificates as these will often show family members who registered the death and their address as well as age and address and occupation of the deceased. You can also search for these at  free BMD and order from the General register office ) There are many free transcriptions and other relative sites here on our County and Country Pages

Love the Hat

This is a Photo of my maternal Grandmother Ada Annie Wale aged 18. Taken in Browns Photo studios in 1906

If you have old Photographs please make sure you document them. so whoever they are passed on to know who they are pictures of. There is nothing more frustrating than having a lot of old photos who you know are relatives but you cannot put a name to them.

There are sites like this one: My Heritage where you can upload and keep your photos online and share or search to find for your Tree

Mick Grays Genealogy site



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Gray family

History at home: A Guide to Genealogy

Mainly U.S Links but a lot of helpful information

Genealogy: An ultimate beginners guide By Mark Orwig