View Full Version : 1700s and before....

26-07-10, 15:04
Hi all...

This isn't so much a query, as a general 'how do they do it!?'

With some work, I've managed to get most of my lines back to pre-1837 but for the pre-registration years I am finding it soooooo hard without certificates. It feels wrong somehow. I love my little (ok, massive :rotfl:) folder of certificates and the sense of validation they give my research. For the step I am now at, all I have is the odd print out from the LDS site. I feel like I'm 'guessing' - does anyone else feel like that or is it just me being stupid?

I've read the FTF guide to research, and getting started etc but I'm still finding it really hard and so far, even for the ancestors I have been able to trace all I have is a name and date of baptism or marriage and the name of the parish.

How do so many genealogists have such full trees, with information and stories and going back hundreds of years? Where does it all come from?

Thank you for reading,

Stressed in the South West

Helen Henderson
26-07-10, 15:56
Hi Rachel,

My paternal line is mainly Ag Labs and therefore they tend not to have money, property or leave wills, but I have found some snippets about them in the wider parish records. Luckily the Parish chest documents such as vestry minutes survive in our local records office, and I have been able to find out when they received parish relief and also a couple of occasions when they received bibles from visiting Bishops for piety and church attendance, all this in the 1700's.

You could also try early court and magistrate sessions as you could find yourself in trouble for relatively minor offences - my husband's family was well connected with money but his 4th great grandfather found himself in front of the magistrate for a breach of the peace - the date of which coincided with the birth of his only child. I suspect it was too much wetting of the baby's head and it cost him a shilling fine!

Try googling names with locations and see what you find - it can give good leads on where to look pre 1837.


Velma Dinkley
26-07-10, 16:07
Personally I don't like this area of research! Whilst I have also built up a tree full of information on my 19th & 20th century ancestors using BMDs, certs, census returns, military records etc, as well as resources in local and national archives, my research for previous generations is rather sparse. I have been to county archives and have listed incidences of baptisms, marriages and deaths for some of my surnames, but without other doumentation such as wills, you never really know for sure that you have the right connections. A third cousin has researched a branch which we share, and each generation is an ag lab called John - how can anyone be sure that is really the right line? Does it really matter how far you can go back anyway??

Olde Crone Holden
26-07-10, 17:12
A lot of my pre-1837 research depends on hooking into a small, well documented village........and an awful lot of hard work, creating minitrees, cross referencing families and quite a lot of luck as well, such as finding a snippet on google which helps to explain some anomaly. Once you get out of the mindset of having to have certs and start to use other approaches, it becomes easier (haha!)


Anne in Carlisle
26-07-10, 17:28
Although the IGI can help as a guide, you really do need to see the actual parish records if possible. There is often some extra information on them which is a big clue. Also you get a much wider picture of how your family fit in, and as OC says, make mini trees for each family which might have anything to do with yours.

You can see parish records by travelling to the county archive you need. Or buying CDs if available sold by Family History Societies. Or by ordering films made by the LDS to view at one of their centres. If yours are London families then the actual records of many parishes are available on Ancestry - an invaluable resource!


26-07-10, 20:12
I had addresses for farms that the Welsh lines farmed and lucky enough to have found wills and inventories of chattles and who was to get the stuff and they quite often say where they were born and who their children were and who the children married and grandchildren if any. Farms although leased were handed down through the family.
Wills were found on line via the National Library of Wales, readable and I was able to purchase paper copies.


Oakum Picker
26-07-10, 20:39
It depends on your boredom threshold. I have been steadily going through Suffolk PRs for the past 8 years & am about halfway as there are over 500. I then do mini One Name Studies and have worked out numerous trees with my surnames but mostly with no connection to me. Unfortunately a lot of my ancestors never made it to church. I have had more success with my Herts ancestors as the IGI has been a great help in pointing me in the right direction. I'm lucky that I only have 2 main centres for my ancestors Suffolk/Norfolk & Herts/Beds.

Little Nell
26-07-10, 22:38
If you have unusual surnames in your tree and they stayed in the same area its not too difficult. But generally you'll find that even with unusual surnames there will be a raft of similarly-aged cousins called John with wives called Mary who have children called John, Mary, William and Elizabeth.

So its best to try to flesh out info on the ancestors you can be more sure of - though even with the wealth of information we have in the 19th century with bmd certs, census info, newspaper articles etc etc we still can't be 100% sure that its true. Most of the certs and census pages I have aren't as accurate as they could be!

26-07-10, 23:25
For work beyond 1837 you have to start thinking of other documents which take the place of Census and BMD Certs and hadling these old documents is very rewarding. Most CRO's allow digital photographing even if you have to pay for these. It is surprising how many documents you can pick up at the local County Record Office, which is where you need to go for research, once you get past 1837 BMD and Census. I went toNorthants CRO two years ago to do some work in the Record Office and all around the villages of my interest, and took many photos. I am only now just getting around to sorting all the photos out, and am astounded at all the Marriage Licences, Gamekeepers Records, Bastardy Bonds, Petty Sessions Records, Wills, Apprenticeship Records that I have and mine were ag labs and carpenters, though going further back into the 1600's has brought into focus many characters, to include a hempdresser who married by licence in Peterborough Cathedral! Your Ag Labs have a wealth of history when you start to delve underneath, but this cannot be done online as there is only a very tiny amount of these records online. I do agree that you need to get back into the villages as this is where you can find families intermarrying. I have one partici ular village of interest which I looked up for all people from that village in all the census and found many of these were mine and living in London when I first thought my Great Grandfather was the only one in London!

I have to say that I love research, which is one of the reasons why I have managed to get some of mine back to the mid 1500's.


27-07-10, 05:51
well like everyone says you need the actual records, the igi doesnt record more than the date the place and the people. the parish records sometimes have more info than the igi, it depends on the parish and time frame. say your researching john and jane smith on the igi, and you have a couple of kids who dont seem to fit, in a big parish. you get the records, and find 3 arnt from the same town as your family is, ergo, you have 2 john and jane smiths having children together! i use the igi to sketch out a brief tree, when i get the registers, i can confirm deny or maybe the family records. it takes a lot of work, and most of the time, you hit dead ends in certain parishes well before 1700!

27-07-10, 10:42
Thank you all for the replies, it helps to know I'm not on a completely different wavelength!

I haven't been to any CRO yet (sounds ridiculous for someone who is trying to do a family tree doesn't it) - not because I don't want to, but just because I live so far away from the relevant offices. I am hoping to make the trip soon, but it will be there and back in a day and what worries me is that all the research guides say you need to know what you are looking for before hand, and have a plan of what to look for etc - but I'm not sure I know what I'm looking for really. I know the names of the oldest ancestors I am sure of, but beyond that I am lost. I am hoping to find their parents, their siblings, their baptisms etc. Will I be able to just go in to the records office (Aylesbury, because my ancestors are from Waddesdon) with so little a plan?

Thanks again, it helps to get it off your chest sometimes doesn't it?!


Anne in Carlisle
27-07-10, 10:57
If you don't have much time, you really do need to have a plan. Do you have some idea of time scale and a parish? If so than that's where you start, with the person you know.

Its slow work. You might be there for several hours and only find a couple of baptisms and maybe a marriage. There's no quick indexing - you'll need to scan through every page and sometimes the writing is horrible.

If you have a rough idea from the IGI then you could use that as a guide - check to see if the IGI entries are correct and whether they have any extra information. BUT don't assume that they are the only entires. REMEMBER the IGI has hardly any deaths. You might find a burial for a child of someone you hoped was your ancerstor!!

Don't forget to take your correst specs for reading a microfiche screen (if, ilke me you need them, that is :))


27-07-10, 11:27
Thanks Anne!

I do have the parish (Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire) and timescales: the last people I'm sure of were born 1765/1767, died 1842/4. I have the names of her parents, but haven't found a marriage yet. I am fairly sure of his parents, although I have two possible couples grrrrrrrrrrrr. I guess I can only hope that the real parish records have more information that might help me. The names are all quite common which doesn't help (surnames are George and Saunders).

I would love to go to the records office, I think I'll just have to take the bull by the horns and go for it one day!

Thanks again,

Oakum Picker
27-07-10, 11:55
Rachel, you are very lucky. Bucks is one of the best ROs in the country in as much as the Bucks FHS have produced a database on computer so you can put your name in & see all events pop up including Wills etc. It's not infallible but is mostly complete for PRs. The Non-cons aren't on yet. They are closed Mondays & on Tuesday the BFHS are in using the computer so you have to ask them for everything, the database only being on the one computer. The other days it's a free for all, sometimes lots of people want to use it but others you could sit at it all day. If you want I could meet you there & show you the ropes; I live in a village about 3 miles out.

27-07-10, 12:08
Glen, how interesting. I would really appreciate that, thank you so much. I will pm you to get an idea of when you would be going.