Tracing your family tree
I’m often commenting on Twitter about the latest thing that #MyOAPmum has said.
Whilst it is often hilarious with the stuff that she comes out with, it’s also a stark reminder that she is getting older.
Being an only child, and part of a family that doesn’t get on, I have known for a long time that my mum is my only link with my family past - certainly on my maternal side, though also to my paternal side given that I haven’t spoken to my dad in 30 years.
With this in mind, I have often thought that I should press her for some details on her ancestry as should she pass away, I would not know much more than the names of her parents.
A good friend of mine, Sam, had experience of tracing family trees. She explained to me how she got into tracing ancestries, and how what started as a labour of love has now grown into a paid hobby which she thoroughly enjoys.
“In 2002 my Grandmother went to live with my Mum. Mum and I had to sort her house out and found hundreds of old photos.
I love old photos especially as these were my relatives so Mum and I set about finding out who they were by questioning her in her lucid moments and slowly built up a basic tree which I decided to try and confirm by using census’ and certificates.
I explored various ways online and also by visiting records offices. Over the next 10 years, I proceeded to discover all 8 trees from my children upwards and have found many long-lost relatives on the way and dug up quite a few stories good and bad.
I am always revising my trees as more and more information becomes available and have also done trees for friends that they have given relatives as presents.
I looked into how much it would cost someone to do a tree and some places charge around £2,000 so it got me thinking.”
From there, Sam started tracing family trees for other people. Using her expertise, she has created a model which allows her to start with some basic information about a family, and swiftly trace the roots back. The process now takes a few weeks rather than a few months, and this has led Sam to expand into offering her skills to others.
I’ve known Sam for 11 years now (in fact, she’s Godmother to my son). I asked her to start tracing my mum’s family tree for me.
Charging just £250 for a line of descendants, plus the cost of any certificates which need to be ordered (generally £10 each), the full cost of tracing my mum’s tree back to her great-grandparents was just £320 - a remarkable saving on the £2,000 quoted to Sam some time back, and far easier and less hassle than signing up to a pay-monthly website and trying to do it yourself.
Sam also offers a “per generation” price of £50 per generation, plus the cost of certificates. This is ideal if you’re on a budget, have already traced some of your ancestry and just need to do a different generation, or if you don’t want to go back too far.
We started the process in mid-November, and by late January I had a list showing my mum’s lineage back to show all of her great-grandparents as well as one set of great-great grandparents. That’s just two months - an amazingly quick turnaround.
The best thing about the whole process was the ease of it. After giving Sam some initial details about my family, including as many names and occupations as we could remember (most of which were slightly, if not wholly, inaccurate), I would then leave Sam to find the information she needed.
Every couple of weeks I would get an email telling me an update, and asking if I was happy to order an additional birth certificate to confirm her findings.
Sam is an excellent communicator, and her thoroughness makes this an ideal venture for her. With over a decade of experience in tracing family trees, she knows where to look to get the best and quickest results. I’ve no doubt that if I had attempted to do this in my spare time, I’d still be struggling to find the most basic of details even now!
Payments for the service are made up front, with the cost of certificates either payable in lump sums with any remainder refunded once the research is complete, or as each certificate is needed.
You can find details and examples of Sam’s work on her Facebook page.