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August 04, 2004

Genealogy (Family Trees)

I've started having another shot at extending my family tree. I'm basing this from the work done by my Dad which I've combined with data from his cousin Richard Burfitt.
I'm also about to combine that tree with my wifes tree for our combined family tree!

The Internet is a great tool for people beginning to search out their family tree. In my case the work done by Richard covers pretty much all the data I can find on the net about that branch of the family (Burfitts back to ~1520) but I've still got a lot of other family branches to search out.

One of the best (and totally free) tools is the LDS FamilySearch.org which has the UK & US census data from 1881 fully searchable, as well as a huge amount of other data.

Finding someone post-1900 is pretty hard in my experience (probably better just to talk to living relatives about them anyway), and searches before 1800 get harder (less information out there).
Right now I'm not using any of the pay-per-view data (1901 UK census, Genealogy.com, Ancestry.com, etc) but I may have to if I want to get some of the information they hold.

If you are searching out a family tree it really does matter where your ancestors lived as to what information is available, I'm lucky in that mine all come from England and the Isle of Man (so far...)
and there are a lot of people with ancestors over there :-)

The other thing people forget with family trees is the number of names in your past :-) Your 'pedigree' is basically the collection of your direct bloodline:
2 parents
4 grandparents
8 great grandparents
16 g.g.gp

Each generation (for me) seems to span around 25-30 years (some less, some more) - so getting back to the people born around 1800 gives me ~64 different people to find at that generation, and a total of over 120 between now and then - thats not including any brothers/sisters of those direct-line people. If I could find everyone of my direct ancestors from 1520 (the earliest anyone has found in my tree) that would be something like 131,000 people alive at that time to whom I am a direct descendant ! Of course I'm sure there has been some in-breeding along the way where there are multiple links to the same family (especially in the Isle of Man!) but thats a huge number. In fact, thats probably about 3% of the entire population of the UK that was alive at the time!

Then again, it's not very likely that I'd ever find record of all of the full 250,000 ancestors I'd have to find to get those people from 1520 :-)

If you are interested in hunting down family trees (especially from the UK/IOM) then give me a buzz and I can point you to some good sources (for beginners...)
If you are a seasoned veteran at hunting down family trees then let me know how it's done :-)

Posted by Kevin at August 4, 2004 02:29 PM

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