Online ancestry sites are a great way to build an ancestral family tree. For seniors the attraction is huge. It’s nice to see where we fit into the bigger picture, not just with the families we’ve founded but where we came from, too.
Ancestry.co.uk is probably the largest UK online ancestry site, boasting the world’s largest library of online ancestry-related records. With stored information ranging from censuses (the Ancestry.co.uk library includes census information dating as far back as 1891); births, marriages and deaths records; and military records; the site has all the key bases covered.
Membership levels are dependent on the amount paid by the member – and the amount you pay depends on whether you join for one month or opt for an annual subscription. The cheapest Ancestry.co.uk membership package is its Essentials option, which costs £6.95 per month if you sign up for one year; and £10.95 per month if you join for a month only. You can also pay as you go, though this option works out more expensive still.
Find My Past is set up slightly differently – with a free 14 day trial you can begin building a picture of your family tree using census data going back to 1841; birth marriages and deaths records going back to 1761; and even records of births, marriages and deaths at sea. The site then offers a three level range of subscriptions, with the basic level giving access only to the 1911 census, while the full subscription gives you parish records; travel and migration data; and access to employment records and armed forces databases.
You don’t have to pay to start searching – you could, for example, begin by querying the National Archives site to find out more about your family. When you search through the National Archives, you tend to get redirected to either Ancestry or Find My Past where you may conduct a search for free but have to pay if you want to download the records in question.
Using the Ancestry or Find My Past sites doesn’t just give you access to the records you need – it also (and perhaps more importantly) helps you to understand how to go about researching your ancestry in the most fruitful way possible. Starting to delve into the history of your family can be a daunting task: if you don’t know where to start, it can be difficult to see how you can arrive at the results you want.
Your own knowledge is the key to the past. And if there are family members surviving from previous generations, or if your own brothers, sisters and cousins may have information you don’t have, they are the best place to begin. The more names, dates and probable locations you can uncover from the living branches of the family tree, the better chance you have of tracing it back to its roots.
Who knows – you may find that your ancestors worked in royal households; or were famous generals in historic battles…
For more information on looking for lost relations or starting to research your family tree, Ask Granny.