Speaker & writer
Tracing living relatives
What I Offer
From that little bit of extra help, to the full family tree package
How I work
Whatever I produce, and how far I take the research, is entirely dependent on the customer's wishes.
I will regularly keep the customer informed of my progress, and of costings so far. I do not usually ask
for money up front, and do not surprise you with a large bill at the end of my research. I generally suggest
that customers to pay in installments as the research progresses.
My charges start from £20.00 per hour, plus expenses for certificates or travel. I will always check with the customer
before making a long journey to a county records office, etc.
Of course, family trees can take years to research. However, a great deal can be achieved within the first few weeks
or months, and family trees can be picked up again years later and worked on further. That is the addiction of
family research: there is always more to find out.
A helping hand
Family tree research is becoming more and more popular, and many people over the country are starting to
research their own family history. Many of my customers have already spent a great deal of time on their trees,
and just need help past that frustrating brick wall that can appear from time to time. For me, these jobs are
just as satisfying as starting from scratch, and I am always willing to assist someone with their research,
however small the job might be.
A family tree
I find that most customers do not want to necessarily trace their family roots back hundreds of years,
but simply want to know more about their 19th and 20th century ancestors. Tracing a family back to the early
1800s or late 1700s can cover many generations, and will result a fairly extensive tree.
In this computer age, it is very easy to obtain software to help you to draw your family tree. However, I prefer the
traditional pen and ink method, which I believe is far more pleasing to the eye, and will never look 'out of date'.
I use indian ink, and good quality artists' paper, which means it can be rolled and tied up on presentation to the
The trees I produce are generally A2-sized (60cm x 42cm), and show all the direct ancestors, their siblings,
and their spouses. The trees also note the years of birth, marriage and death of each ancestor. (See example below).
The family narrative
Family trees are of course fascinating documents. However, they tend to leave one asking many questions:
Where did these people live? What did they do for a living? Did any of them have servants in the house,
or work as servants themselves...? I can also produce detailed narrative, taking each ancestor at a time,
and taking the customer on a journey through that person's life. These narratives bring the family trees to life,
and give the customer a more personal connection to their ancestors. An example may read:
'Abraham and Naomi's seventh child was William Pelham. He was born in Arundel in 1827, and was baptised there
on 2nd March 1827. In 1841, aged 14, he was living in Queen Street, Arundel, as an apprentice cooper.
He was staying with the family of John Burton, who was also a cooper.
On Christmas Day 1849, 22-year-old William married 18-year-old Martha Symmonds at Lyminster, a small village just to
the east of Arundel. Martha had been born in Littlehampton in 1831 to William and Mary Symmonds, and was baptised
at St Mary's Church, Littlehampton, on 30th October 1831. William gave his place of residence at the time of the marriage
as Shoreham, and Martha gave hers as Lyminster. The witnesses at the wedding were John and Susan Pelham.
In 1851 William and Martha were living with Martha's widowed mother in Lyminster. William was working as a cooper,
and Martha as a laundress. By 1853 they had moved to Crossbush, just north of Lyminster.
William Pelham died in March 1853, aged just 26. He was buried in Lyminster on 25th March 1853.
It appears Martha had an illegitimate child, called Henrietta Pelham, in 1854. No father was recorded on the baptism register.
In 1858 Martha married William Elbro. William had been born in Vernham, Berkshire, around 1815.
In 1861 Martha and William were living in Crossbush with two daughters: one of these was Martha's illegitimate daughter, Henrietta.
In 1871 William and Martha were living in Crossbush Street with three children. William was working as a labourer,
and Martha as a laundress. They were still at Crossbush in 1881 with three children, and were also looking after two
grandchildren. William was now working as a labourer.
William Elbro died of tuberculosis on 17th September 1885, aged around 70.
In 1891 Martha was living at Providence Cottage, West Tarring, with her daughter, Kate, who was described on the
census return as "feeble minded". Martha, now 69, was working as a washerwoman.
Martha Elbro died in 1904, aged 72.
As far as we know, William Pelham and Martha had no children, but Martha and William Elbro had two sons and four daughters.'
The information above is gleaned from the census records, the birth, marriage and death records, baptism records,
wills, and other valuable sources found at county records offices, etc, and gives a far deeper insight into our ancestors'
lives than a basic family tree. I have always sought to bring the customer closer to their ancestor in this way.
Narratives on a fair-sized tree can run up to 5000 words. I highly recommend them for an accompaniment to the tree.
Finding living relatives
Although I had not planned to do it, as a consequence of my work I have put several people in touch with 'missing' relatives.
Tracing living relatives is not usually too difficult, although one has to be extremely careful when attempting to make contact
with people as some relatives simply (and unfortunately) do not want to know. However, I have united one client with his long-lost
mother's family, and also traced the brother of a client's grandmother who was previously unknown to the present-day family,
and the two sides of the family have since met for the first time and are now very close.
Regardless of whether the customer requests a narrative with their tree, I provide them with a small portfolio
with copies of any birth, marriage and death certificates I have obtained, plus copies of the census pages,
photographs of graves or houses connected with the family, and occasionally copies of wills, settlement documents,
and other gems I may have stumbled upon during my research.
In order to produce a family tree I will require certain birth, marriage and death certificates as I progress.
These I purchase via the General Register Office, and cost £9.25 each.
I request these only when necessary to the research, or is a customer requests a particular certificate.
These make a great, unique gift to someone. They basically show direct ancestors only, detailing the names,
and dates of birth and death. They are ideal for framing and hanging on the wall, giving the recipient a constant reminder
of his or her direct lineage.
I produce them on ivory or champagne coloured canford paper.
Family trunks can take any direction from the family member at the bottom of the chart; taking up the paternal or maternal
line at any stage, but always showing a direct ancestor.
The example to the right is a simple version, showing just the names and years of birth and death. These can be extended
to include places of birth and death, plus names of spouses. This can be done to order, and prices start at just