Further information about the services offered

Further information

1) Certificates of birth, marriage and death

Civil registration for births marriages and deaths became mandatory in 1837, and the records of these events provide valuable evidence for family histories. They exist in two forms:

  • The indexes of the registrations. These give just the names of the person involved and the approximate date
  • Copy certificates with full details of the event (eg birth certificates)

The indexes are available online and can be searched at no cost, but the certificates can only be obtained by post from the General Registrar's Office, and cost (currently) £9.25 each.

In most cases it is possible to research a family history with a high degree of accuracy without ordering such certificates, using just the indexes and cross referencing them with census records.   They do, however, add to the quality of the research and provide formal documentary evidence of a line of descent. They can also provide additional information, such as the names of witnesses to a marriage, or cause of death. So you may wish to obtain these for some of your key ancestors. If so, I can obtain them for you and will do so at cost price only. (As standard practice, I will also provide you with the relevant registration reference numbers in my research report so that you could order them yourself at a later date if you wish). Before completing the work I will discuss this with you and see if you wish to add any such certificates.

There may also be situations where it may prove necessary to purchase a birth or marriage certificates to follow a particular line of research because the information available from online records is inadequate or ambiguous. If this arises I will always check with you first to agree how to proceed.

Please note that an increasing number of parish records are now available online, especially for West Yorkshire. Where these are available they provide similar information to the civil registration certificates and can avoid the need to purchase them. You can see evidence of this in my research on the Holme Valley Families.

2) Scope of the research

My research focuses on ancestors living in England and Wales, primarily using information available from the 1841-1911 population censuses, cross referenced with the national registration of births marriages and deaths (1837 onwards). If you have ancestors originating from overseas (especially Ireland where many census records were destroyed in 1922) I may not be able to research this as part of the "standard" package. Please also be aware that ancestors with very common names (eg Jones in Wales!) may not be traceable unless you have additional information about their place of residence and family members that would help identify them in the census. There may also be some branches where the census trail leads to a dead end that cannot be resolved by online research alone and I will let you know if this is the case.

I can include research into Scottish ancestors but may need to charge additional fees (at cost) due to the way Scottish data is made available.

3) Initial information

As a starting point for the research I will need you to provide me with some basic data about your immediate ancestors. Usually it is sufficient to have first names and surnames, approximate dates of birth and marriage, and place of birth and residence. If you are not able to provide this information for all your parents and grandparents, it may limit the scope of the research, but don't be worried as it is surprising how far you can get from just a small amount of initial information!

4) 20th century data

Perhaps ironically, it is harder to get information about people living in the 20th century than the 19th century! This is because census data has not yet been released.  As a consequence, please be aware that I may only be able to provide very basic information in the research reports about your more recent ancestors, but will invite you to contribute any additional facts or information that you may know about.

5) Database format

As part of my service I will provide you with a family tree database on CD. This will be in two versions:

1.       A "GEDCOM" format file, which is a standard format for genealogy data and can be used by almost any genealogy software. It will also allow you to upload your family tree on various websites if you wish.

2.       A file format suitable for use by current versions of the "Family Tree Maker" genealogy programme. This software has a wide range of advanced features and integrates with the Ancestry.co.uk website and census data.

Please note that I do not supply you with any genealogy software unless you purchase this as an "extra". If you prefer to purchase this yourself  I can provide advice and help. There is free software available and commercial packages are generally inexpensive.

6) Data protection

Your family tree will contain personal information about living individuals, including yourself, and I will respect the confidentiality of this information and not disclose it to third parties. I will also assume that any information you supply to me about other living individuals is given with their consent and it is your responsibility to ensure this is the case. On completion of the research I will retain the data on my computer for a period of 12 months after which it will be deleted unless you ask me to retain it for possible future use. However, I reserve the right to retain data relating to non-living individuals and to incorporate this into future research for other people if appropriate.

7) Errors, corrections, & updates

I make every effort to check my research and ensure it is accurate and supported by good evidence, ideally from at least two mutually supporting sources. However, please be aware that  historic data sources are not entirely reliable. People do not always tell the truth to the census officials, for instance, or the census official may misunderstand and write it down incorrectly. Also many types of record are subject to possible transcription errors where the information has been copied by a third party from an original source.

If information comes to light which suggests a significant error in my research, I will review it and if necessary issue an amended report which will be emailed to you. However this does not apply if the information arises from the subsequent purchase of a BMD certificate which I had suggested during the course of the research but which you had declined.

I would also be happy to produce updated versions of your report if you do obtain new information that you want to incorporate, at a small fee.

8) Payment

When you first contact me I will do an initial search free of charge to check that it will be feasible to research your family. After that I will require payment of 50% of the fee as an initial deposit and the balance of the fee will be payable on completion of the work.