How to start your HARTLEY research
First things first ...
1. Contact all your living relatives, especially the elderly ones – they are your most valuable resource, and will probably appreciate a visit.
2. Collect copies of birth, marriage and death certificates – they all contain valuable information – plus as much biographical information as you can extract. In addition, collect and copy any service records, examination certificates, diplomas, awards, newspaper cuttings – anything that contains names, dates and places.
3. Check family Bibles – they are often handed down through the generations and may be inscribed with the names of your ancestors in some sort of order.
And while you're at it, get your older relatives to index/annotate old photographs – your granny may know who the people in the photos are, but when she's gone, will you?
Make out an index card, sheet of paper or proprietary prepared form for each person in your family. Write down: full name (including married women's maiden names) date of birth and/or baptism names of parents place of origin (town, village or parish) date of marriage name of spouse names of children date of death and/or burial.
To verify this information and fill in the gaps, there are several resources available. The main ones are birth, marriage and death certificates and census returns, discussed later, but also documents such as wills, street directories and service records, as well as the new technology of DNA testing.
Work backwards methodically, generation by generation, starting with your parents, then your parent's parents and so on. With luck and time, you may get back to the 1700s. As you go further back into your ancestry, sources of information become much more sparse, as well as more difficult to read. You may find that some records have not survived. Surnames may also be spelt differently as, before the 19th century, many people couldn't write and had to rely on scribes, priests and officials to try get it right.
Using a computer ...
Software packages are available to make sense of all this data – for example, Family Tree Maker. After you have entered all the details you have been able to discover, you will be able to print out various charts and family trees. You can even publish your results on the internet.
Most people start by tracing back their father's ancestors (the direct male line), as this is usually the easiest to do, there being only one surname to concentrate on. The maternal line (your mother, her mother, and so on), however, is more pure – there is always the strong possibility that a child was fathered by someone other than the mother's husband [see DND Testing below].
The Latter Day Saints, IGI Church Records, search of Births, Baptisms, Marriages, Deaths
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A person's paternal ancestry can be traced by DNA on the Y-Chromosome or yDNA for short. Only men have a Y-Chromosome, which they inherited from their fathers and will pass on to their sons. Men sharing the same surname can explore and share their genetic connections by DNA testing from a company [see worldfamilies.net]
Testing Mitochondrial DNA [or mtDNA, for short] is inherited solely down the maternal line. Your mtDNA is inherited exclusively from your mother, who inherited it from her mother [your grandmother], who inherited it from her mother [your great grandmother], and so on back to the clans of the 'Seven daughters of Eve'.
Benefits of yDNA Testing * Eliminates or confirms relationships. * Focuses research to related families. * Directs research into a geographic area. * Directs research into a specific timeframe. * Establishes country or region of origin. * Confirms variant surnames are family. * Identifies pre-surname migration. * Strengthens weak paper trails. * Avoids pursuing false connections.
Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths From 1837, all births, deaths and marriages had to be registered officially by law. Prior to this, baptisms, marriages and burials were usually recorded in parish records.
A birth certificate contains the names of the child's parents, the father's job and the address where the child was born.
A marriage certificate contains the maiden name of the wife, the ages of the couple, the names and jobs of the fathers, and where the couple lived at the time of the marriage.
A death certificate contains details of when and where the person died, their age, occupation and cause of death.
All good stuff for tracing the previous generations.
If your family is from England or Wales, you can check information from your relatives and fill in the gaps by visiting the Family Records Centre in London. The Family Records Centre is now the home of the research facilities previously provided at St Catherine's House in Aldwych and the Census Reading Rooms in Chancery Lane. The Family Records Centre holds the following indexes: Births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales since 1837 Legal adoptions in England and Wales since 1927 Births, marriages and deaths of some British citizens abroad since the late 18th century, including deaths in the two world wars Census returns from 1841 to 1901. The indexes for the civil registration of births, marriages and deaths – which began in England and Wales on 1 July 1837 – are organised alphabetically for each year in quarterly volumes to 1983, thereafter annually. They can be inspected free of charge, but don't tell the whole story. Each entry has a GRO (General Register Office) reference number, and this is used to order a copy of the complete certificate. Microfiche copies of the indexes are also available at some local libraries and record offices. Microfilm copies of the indexes can be searched at Family History Centres of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Copies of the entries in the registers – that is, a copy of the actual birth, marriage or death certificate
Scotland has some of the most advanced search tools for genealogy. The Scottish Family History Centre – 'the world's first family history campus' – is scheduled to open in 2007. Online, Scotland's People is a partnership between the General Register Office for Scotland, the National Archive for Scotland and the Court of the Lord Lyon. Records in Scotland began in 1855 and birth certificates are available to 1904, marriages to 1929 and deaths to 1954. Old parish registers start in 1553. For £6, you receive 30 'page credits' valid for seven consecutive days.
Northern Ireland The General Register Office (GRO) is responsible for the administration of marriage law and the provision of a system for the civil registration of births, deaths, marriages and adoptions in Northern Ireland. In 1845 legislation came into force which provided for the registration of civil marriages in Ireland and for the regulation of all non-Roman Catholic marriages. Further legislation, in 1864, provided for the inclusion of Roman Catholic marriages, together with birth and deaths. Second World War death indexes 1939-45 are also held. Records cannot be accessed over the internet, but can be ordered online.
Census returns If you know where an ancestor lived, census returns contain lots more interesting information. For example, you can also find out who else was living in the house, their relationship to the head of the household, their age, their birthplace and their occupation. The census has been held in England and Wales every ten years since 1801, except for 1941, when the Second World War took precedence. Only the census returns from 1841 and later are much use to genealogists – the earlier censuses were the responsibility of the clergy and overseers of the poor, and record few details. Because of privacy laws, 100 years has to elapse before the census data is made available to the public. The most recent census to be released to the public was that of 1901. Some census returns can be viewed on microfilm in larger local libraries and at Family History Centres and more censuses are becoming available on CD-Rom and online.
Scottish records for 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901 are available from Scotland's People.
A will is a statement by the deceased person of how they wished their worldly goods to be disposed of among family and friends. Wills are a valuable source of information, not only about the status and occupation of your ancestor, but also in providing links with other family members, friends and executors. For a will to be legal, it has to be 'proved' by a judge. This process is called probate. If someone died intestate (without leaving a will), the next of kin could apply for a grant of administration to gain control of the estate. You can find information on wills where probate was granted later than 1 January 1858 at the Court Service website. They have a section on Probate Records and Family History. Copies of the index to wills from 1858 to 1943 are available on microfiche at The National Archives and the Family Records Centre. The National Library of Wales holds volumes of copy wills after 1858 and up to 1940. In Scotland, a testament is the collective term used to describe all the documents relating to an inventory of the dead person's property. Some testaments include a will. Where there is a will, the document was known as a 'testament testamentar' (the equivalent of English probate). If there was no will, it was called a 'testament dative' (the equivalent of English letters of administration). PRONI holds all original wills and letters of administration granted in the six counties that make up Northern Ireland from 1900 onwards.
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