Back to your roots in Britain

Tim Cooper

Tim Cooper

Did your ancestors come from Britain? Where did they live? What did they do? Have you thought of trying to trace your ancestry or have you already discovered much of it?

A visit to Britain could uncover some of the secrets of your past and provide a fascinating insight into the lives of your forefathers. It could be the key to completing your family history with documents, pictures and your own special memories of the places your ancestors lived.

Imagine stepping off a train onto a platform of a village station in the heart of Britain. Church bells ring from across the meadow and beside the stream stands an old mill. A picture-postcard scene or something more?

Perhaps the bells ring from the little church where your great-great-grandparents were married! Perhaps the mill was the place where your forefathers milled corn or the green fields were where they kept livestock or tilled the land! It may be that your family surname originated here!

Your photographs will show not just a quaint English village, but a place where your ancestors lived and worked, a picture of your roots!

Before any ancestral visit to Britain, it is important that you should already know a little of where your ancestors came from. If nothing is known of your family prior to your visit, unless you plan a long stay, you will have little time and opportunity to discover the origin of your roots. For example, civil records in England and Wales, i.e. birth, marriage and death certificates, usually take about a week to be supplied from the time of locating them in the indexes.

It can easily take a month or more to trace your ancestors back two or three generations. It is therefore advisable to know where your forbears came from, at least as far back as 1837 (when civil registration commenced), prior to your visit to Britain. This will obviously require some preparatory investigations.

It is important to gain a solid foundation of knowledge about your ancestors, so you can decide where to visit and where to base your stay. This will enhance your ability to carry out successful on-site research in Britain.

In future issues, this column will give you information on tracing your own ancestry both before and during your visit to Britain. If your time is limited, perhaps you may prefer to contact an ancestral research service to help you.

Tim Cooper is a professional Genealogist with
British Ancestral Research, offering a professional genealogical research service covering all of Great Britain and Ireland.

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