Custom Projects to investigate a family story or a brick wall

This option is for you if you have a specific question about your ancestry that you’d like to learn more about but don’t want to do the research yourself OR if you’re working on your family tree, have hit a brick wall and would like some input.

The cost is £40 per hour. This includes time spent carrying out the research and writing up the report. An estimate of likely hours will be provided at the initial consultation stage. Any certificates purchased will be charged extra, at cost. Any paper certificates purchased will belong to you and will be posted to you at the end of the research.

Your specific question might look something like these:
These are examples of research undertaken.

  • A client knew only of ‘a German connection’ in her ancestry and wanted to know more.  We found the line, discovered the story of how the connection came about and also the implications of being German in the UK during WW1.
  • A client wanted to find out more about the grandmother she never knew, and whose past seemed to be shrouded in mystery.  We uncovered a surprising and very moving story.
  • A client’s father and mother’s maternal grandmother had the same surname. She wanted to know if their ancestral lines were connected.  We were able to get one line back to the 17th century, the other to the early 18th; and although it seemed unlikely there was any connection between them, my client was delighted to learn more about her strong Yorkshire roots.

Please bear in mind that family stories can turn out to be not what they seem. Remember, too, that there may be skeletons lurking in your ancestral cupboard. Don’t worry – all secrets are safe with me! Besides, I have a quite a lot of them in my own family tree. I don’t judge. We have to view events in the context of their own time, and I often ask myself if I would have done any different in their position.

If you’re not researching your own family tree but want to look into a family story, this is what I’ll need from you before we start:
Obviously, it’s essential to make sure we home in on the right people. To protect the living, certain records in the UK are restricted for 100 years.  The decennial censuses, for example, are released one hundred years after the year in which they were taken, and the General Register Office birth index so far goes up to only 1934.  Some records are available for the intervening period, and civil birth, marriage and death certificates can be purchased.  But essentially, what all this means is that we may have to use your parents and grandparents as a bridge to find our way back to the point at which records become easily available.  The more information we have, the better, and clearly precisely what’s needed will vary according to the question you’d like me to research. We will discuss this further during our initial consultation, but as a guide, I might ask you for:

  • Your parents’ names, with date and place of birth; and the same for your grandparents if you have it.
  • Copies (photos/scans) of any relevant birth, marriage and death certificates you already have.
  • Any information you have about family members – like the name of a great uncle or your grandmother’s cousin – along with known or likely years of birth, death, etc.
  • Copies of any photos that you consider add something useful. If there is information written or printed on the back I’d like a photo of that too.
  • Any existing family tree a family member might have drawn up.
  • If relevant, a ‘pedigree chart’. You can choose one from FreeFamilyTemplates, download it and fill in as much of it as you can.
  • If possible, I’ll ask you to talk to other family members to get additional information and photos from them.

If the research relates to a brick wall in your own research, this is what I’ll need:

  • Specifically, what you’d like to investigate and what you’re trying to find out
  • What you already know regarding this person/ family
  • Access to your tree if online, or a copy of the relevant part of your tree if not online
  • What you have done so far to try to resolve your problem area. I need to know which record sets you’ve used, where you accessed them (e.g. at the archives, via FindMyPast, etc) and what specifically did you see? Was it a transcript or a digital image copy of the original documents?
  • Did you have any results that you have discounted? If so, why?
  • Any other information you think could be relevant

What you’ll get from me

  • A full report of all research carried out, including analysis and reasons for my conclusions.
  • Information included will depend on the specific research question being investigated, but is likely to include names of key people, dates of their significant life events, where they lived at various stages of their lives, what they did for a living, any spouses and children, and any other information about their lives relevant to the research.
  • Copies and transcriptions of all records identified and drawn upon in the research. Depending on the specific question you’ve asked me to research, this could include any of the following: Civil Birth, Marriage and Death certificates*; Religious Baptism, Marriage and Burial register entries; Municipal Cemetary registers; Census returns, Military Attestation, Service Record or Pension documentation; Newspaper reports; Criminal records; Electoral, Poll Book or Directory entries; Probate documents, including Wills*.
  • Please note that the cost of documents marked with an asterisk* will be charged extra (at cost). To keep costs down, where I consider the information recorded on any of these documents is available (or largely available) online at no additional cost, I will discuss this with you, explaining what benefits there might be in incurring the additional costs. We will then proceed accordingly. Any documents purchased and received as hard copies will belong to you and will be posted to you at the end of the research.
  • A family tree chart including everyone relevant to the focus of the research (see an example below).
  • Where possible, and if appropriate to your needs, I try to step back and look for the stories: what might have been happening to make this person take this action? What was happening in their world – in their family or locality, in wider society or politics?
  • Any further areas for potential research that you might like to explore will also be included.
  • The report will be delivered to you by email.

Below is an example of a family tree chart based on a specific research question. The starting point for the research was the Royal Horse Artillery Discharge Papers for John Mann. The papers referenced several interesting facts. First, John had fought at the Battle of Waterloo; second, he had progressed to the rank of ‘Trumpeter’; and third, he had a wife and four children who were described by commanding officers as ‘a credit to him’. John’s parentage was known, but nothing else at all was known about his life. The aim of the research was to identify the children and to use their baptisms, newspaper reports, plus any clues on the Discharge Papers to develop a timeline for John’s military career. This is the resulting family tree. A separate chart was created for the Timeline. You can click this image for a better view.

Family Tree chart showing the family of John Mann, 1792 to 1851. The chart includes John and his wife, five children, the spouses of three of them and a total of eight grandchildren.

Please click here to read a selection of Testimonials written by past clients.
Please click here if you’d like to contact me to arrange to discuss your requirements.

As an Associate of AGRA – the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives, I undertake to operate fully according to the professional standards set down by the AGRA Code of Practice and Ethics.  I also offer clients the peace of mind of the AGRA Complaints Procedure.