Should I choose Your Family Story or the Research Service?
If you would like to discover the fascinating details of your ancestors' lives through two centuries of ground-breaking history, then Your Family Story is the ideal and most cost-effective option. If you would like to focus on a particular part of your ancestry, have help with a genealogical problem, or trace a relative, then the pay as you go Research Service will be more suited to your needs.
What if I have a family tree already?
It's great to hear from those of you who have already started investigating your roots! Your Family Story will complement your existing research, and provide fascinating historical context about the real people behind those names and dates. Your story will include a family tree as a matter of course, as I will need to verify any existing research to check that it all adds up. I would not want to waste your time by writing Your Family Story based on genealogical research that is not my own, only for one of us to discover later down the line that your original tree had taken a wrong turn somewhere! This being said, if you are 100% confident that your family tree is correct (for example if it was produced by a professional researcher), then I am happy to provide a reduced quote for writing Your Family Story based on this existing research.
How many ancestors does Your Family Story include?
When you book Your Family Story, I will ask whether you would like to explore the ancestry of one, two, three or all four of your grandparents.
For each grandparent’s line, you will receive their family tree showing all direct ancestors back to at least 1841, and the in-depth story of up to 15 of their ancestors. Many family history researchers will just focus on the paternal line (i.e: father, grandfather, great grandfather and so on). However this method excludes women from your family history. My approach ensures that no women are written out - you will receive the complete story of your family. This method is more research intensive, but I believe that this is the best way to provide the fullest picture of Your Family Story over the decades.
Can you guarantee that you will crack my family mystery / find a noble ancestor / name all of my great great great grandparents?
Unfortunately I cannot guarantee a positive result – and no researcher can! I will make every effort to achieve the best possible results, by utilising all resources available to me, and exploring every research avenue I can. However, sometimes a genealogical record simply has not survived the passage of time, and it is therefore not possible to trace an individual or family line as far back as expected.
It is worth bearing in mind that even when a particular fact remains unknown, that does not mean that progress cannot be made. For example, I was once asked to investigate the paternity of a client’s late mother. Unfortunately, as was often the case with children born out of wedlock in the early 20th century, the father’s name was nowhere to be found in the records. Whilst conducting my research however I came across a closely related cousin of my client, who I believed might have more information. I was able to reunite my client with this cousin, who had a wealth of family archive that helped to fill in some of the gaps about my client’s mother and grandmother.
It is also worth keeping an open mind about what you may consider to be a positive result. If you were expecting a find a Victorian Duchess in your tree and she is just not there, perhaps a fascinating historic trade will reveal itself in another part of your family. I personally believe that the intricacies of everyday lives – hard graft, beliefs and values, family affairs – are far more interesting than the well-trodden history of Kings and Queens.
In the rare instance that I run into a missing record very early on that might significantly hinder the research (for example, a missing record about a grandparent), then I will be upfront with you about this from the outset, and we can explore all the options together.
I don’t know my grandparents’ names or ages! Can you still help me?
It does not matter if you have very little information about your relatives, I can still research your family history. In these instances we may need to purchase birth, marriage or death certificates to get started (see below for more information about certificate ordering). These certificates will help us to confirm key details about your parents and grandparents, so that I can begin building your family tree.
How long will it take to receive my Family Story or Research Service commission?
I will aim to complete Your Family Story within 2 months (subject to availability), with a more exact timeframe to be provided upon booking. However if you need to have your research completed within a specific timeframe, then I will do my best to meet your deadline – please discuss this with me when your book.
I will aim to complete Research Service commissions within 3 weeks of booking, although short commissions can often be completed more quickly than this.
In cases where certificate orders are necessary to proceed, timeframes will be a little longer (see below for more information about certificate ordering).
Will you send me updates about how the research is progressing?
Find Your Family Story is currently a one (wo)man band, so I prefer to dedicate all the time you commission to the research itself, rather than sending email updates as I go. My job is to piece together all the historical sources and evidence in order to create a full picture of your ancestors’ lives. This process works better if I can deliver you the completed work in one go, rather than individual pieces of the puzzle.
Will you trace and contact my long-lost relatives?
Sometimes I have been asked to search for a living relative by someone looking to reconnect with a side of the family that they have lost touch with, or by someone looking for more information about a mutual ancestor. It is always a joy to be able to help reconnect families in this way. However, please be reassured that I will not search for any living relatives unless this is something you have specifically commissioned me to do via the Research Service. If you have asked for to search for a relative and I have successfully traced them, I will inform you. I will never go ahead and contact them, or give them your contact details, unless this is something you specifically request me to do on your behalf.
There is no cloak and dagger approach here - I trace relatives using public records (such as electoral registers, marriage records, etc). This enables me to freely share any information I find with you, as it will already be in the public domain.
Why doesn't Your Family Story go back further than the Victorian period?
The aim of Your Family Story is to explore your ancestors’ lives in as much detail as possible, rather than to go back in time as far as possible. My specialism is modern history, and it is my expertise in this area that allow me to effectively engage with, analyse and relay the experiences of your 19th & 20th Century ancestors. I would not be able to bring the same level of historical knowledge to research about earlier ancestors. I am happy to recommend experts in earlier periods, who will be much better placed to help you with research of this nature.
Will you need to order birth, marriage or death certificates?
In some cases I may need to purchase birth, marriage or death certificates in order to carry out the research. This might occur if you have a common surname, or very little information about your family to start off with - for example if you are unsure of a parent or grandparent’s name. In this case certificates will help us to confirm these key details so that I can begin building your family tree. If I need to order any certificates, I will discuss this with you first before purchasing. The General Register Office charges £11 per certificate. I will order the certificates on your behalf and then request payment from you afterwards to cover the costs. Certificates usually take 5 working days to arrive, so please bear in mind that if we do need to go down this route, Your Family Story or Research Service commission will take longer to complete.
How do I pay?
I accept payment via bank transfer or Paypal. Once we have had an initial consultation and confirmed your booking, I will invoice you via email. Once your payment has been received the research will commence. If you purchase the story of two of more grandparents, you can pay in pre-arranged instalments.
Are you open for business during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes I am. If we need to order any birth, marriage or death certificates for your research, they may take longer than usual to arrive due to Covid-19 related delays at the General Register Office. Unfortunately I am currently unable to undertake archive-based Research Service commissions, due to the closure of the libraries and archives.
How do the Gift Certificates work?
Your Family Story is an ideal gift for history-lovers, story-tellers and mystery-hunters alike. A personalised Gift Certificate will let your loved one know that they will soon be discovering their own thrilling Family Story. I can send the Gift Certificate to you as soon as your booking is confirmed – perfect for that last-minute present! To use their gift, the recipient will need to contact me using the details on their Gift Certificate. I will then have a consultation with them so that they can provide me with the basic information I need to get started on their Family Story.
You can also gift a Research Service commission, which is ideal for someone who has a genealogical puzzle they need help solving.
Can you teach me how to research my family history?
I am very happy to advise you on your own research. I am an experienced user of genealogy websites such as Ancestry, Find My Past, Free BMD and the British Newspaper Archive, and I can teach you the tricks of the trade to help you make the most of these resources. Research tutorials work best over video call on Zoom or Skype, and can be organised via the hourly Research Service.
Can you tell me what my relatives did in the Second World War?
Service Records, which detail your ancestors’ Second World War military service, are held by the Ministry of Defence. Copies of these records can be ordered by relatives by postal application (please read this guide on www.gov.uk for information on how to apply). It can take a few months to receive the Service Records after you apply.
Service Records are often several pages long and can be full of military jargon and acronyms. Through my Research Service, I can decipher these detailed records and tell you about your ancestor’s wartime experiences.
As part of Your Family Story, I will investigate the impact of the war on your ancestors’ lives, with a focus on the Home Front.
How will I receive my Family Story?
You will receive Your Family Story in an illustrated beautifully presented digital report, which can be easily shared with loved ones. Physical presentation books can also be arranged for an additional fee to cover costs and production time.
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What are your terms of service?
How much does it cost?
The price of Your Family Story varies based on how much of your ancestry you would like to explore. Prices start at £430. The Research Service costs £25 per hour, and you decide the amount of hours you would like to commission in advance. In certain circumstances certificate orders might be necessary, which would incur an extra cost – see the question below for more detail on this. I will not incur certificate costs without discussing this with you in advance.
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