Family history research

We meet the 3rd Wednesday in every month

Welcome to Waltham Abbey

We welcome all those looking to research their family history. Whether you come from Essex or Scotland, you a welcome here. All our members are at different stages of their family history, some have only just started and some have been researching for many years.

Family History

Tracing back your family starts with your living relatives such as your parents, siblings, uncles, aunts,cousins and grand parents. These are the people that will hold the important information in unlocking your family history and where you came from. Advice to anyone who is new to family history and is starting out, record and write down all what you know about each of your living relatives and obtain their birth and marriage certificates for these are the factual evidence that proves what their full names and details are. Family members will have plenty of stories and family rumours that will give you a guide to who and where to search for, but always have in mind sometimes family stories can be like chinese whispers, which may prove to be far from the trueth in the end.

Another good tip to have in mind when searching for an ancestor is that our ancestors like some of us today,sometimes shortened their names or used nicknames and middle names to be referred to as and this can cause problems and great confusion when you research. Great grandfather was always known as Bob, but when i found his birth certificate his name was Robert and aunt Milly was recorded as Millicent on her marriage certificate.

Family History Records

Record keeping in modern day is a lot different to the days of our ancestors, for one thing it was certainly not as vital as it is today, and it was only until 1837 that legally everyone had to be registered for births,marriages and deaths in England and Wales.

The first census records started in 1841 which was conducted by the General Register Office which recorded the names and households and institutions of everyone. However it was not as well detailed as the 1851 census which gives you more details like the head of the family and occupations. The transcribers would do door to door visits recording everyone who lived in each household at that particular time. Take in mind that a large percentage were eliterate and they could not write so what tend to happen, transcribers would write down names as they knew it was spelt. One example Ernest could have been recorded as Earnest. This also also occured very often with surnames, which is a big reason for so many variations. Eg. Davies, Davis, Cook, Cooke, Cookson.