Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most frequent asked questions about family history, how family trees are compiled and my work as a genealogist. You can email me about any specific enquiry at

What information do you need to start working on my family tree?
Ideally, as much information as possible. Realistically though, most searches can begin with information from one individual’s birth or marriage – this can be yourself, a parent or a grandparent. From that starting point I can locate records, start researching other events and begin compiling a family tree.

What is a family ‘line’?
A family ‘line’ is an easy way of following a particular surname or family back through different generations. An example of a single family line would be you, your father, your father’s father, your father’s father’s father and so on. Another example would be you, your mother, your mother’s mother, your mother’s mother’s mother etc. When you choose any of the one line packages I offer you should specify which line is to be followed.

How do I buy research or a package?
Send me an email to get started. From there I’ll organise a free phone consultation to discuss the details of what you’d like, ask any questions you have and set a completion date. Once you’re happy to proceed you make the first payment and I can begin the research.

How do I buy coaching?
Send me an email to let me know whether you’d like help getting started with your family tree or need help with a particular problem. Please specify whether phone or in person coaching works best for you. From there we can arrange a convenient time for the session(s).

How do I pay you?
I use PayPal, a secure online service which allows you to pay by debit or credit card or from your bank account. It’s a safe way of transferring money without me holding your payment details on file. I also accept bank transfers and cheques.

What do I get for my money when I buy a package?
Each package comes in a beautifully presented file containing:
+ A fully sourced, personalised report telling you about your ancestors’ lives, including information about their birth, marriage(s) and death, details of how and where they lived and worked and maps of all locations referred to
+ A relationship index to show you how you are connected to all those mentioned in the reports
+ A pedigree chart to use as a quick reference for the family line researched
+ Copies of all census returns, birth, marriage and death certificates acquired
+ Copies of any other source material acquired in the course of research – military records, baptism records, emigration records etc.
+ Suggested next steps for continuing your research
+ A CD containing electronic copies of all documents provided
+ A GEDCOM file of your family tree – this is a master file of your family history data which can be imported into most family history software programs to continue your research

What if you find a ‘skeleton in the closet’?
Occasionally I find evidence of something that could be considered shocking (for instance, I found a very surprising elopement in my own family tree). Anything I find out is kept in confidence, fully researched before I advise you about it and you have complete control over the content included in the reports you receive.

What if you don’t find anything?
In the initial consultation we go through what information you already have, what research (if any) has been done before and which package best matches your needs. In the very unlikely case that I can’t find any trace of your ancestors after this consultation I will happily refund you all fees.

What records do you use?
I use a mixture of records depending on the period and individual being researched. Most commonly I use census returns, birth, marriage and death certificates and a variety of maps. I also use parish records, military service records, emigration records, historic trade directories, Victorian criminal records (occasionally!) and books about specific areas and specific occupations. Where possible I try to track down photos of relevant places and buildings to bring the story to life.

If you have a question that isn’t answered above please drop me an email.

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