Wednesday, 25 January 2017

How to Trace a Pedigree

How did people research their family history before the days of Ancestry, Findmypast, Familysearch, or even Google? Find out in this book dated 1911.

What H. A Crofton's slim volume, just 88 pages, has is advice "to meet the requirement of the average genealogical searcher in the British Isles." Much is timeless, still preached today, then with a turn of phrase appealing to those with a sense of history.

It starts and ends with the golden rule of "verify your information." While the intervening years have elaborated on it the rule remains, especially so with the more recent temptation to chase leads down web-enabled rabbit (black?) holes.

Many resources from that time remain although locations have changed. Older readers may yet have looked at wills and indexes to civil registration at Somerset House. Some may sigh over the mention of records that existed in Dublin's "Four Courts."

Some resource have taken on new prominence since 1911. There's just one passing mention of the census!

The average genealogical searcher in 1911 was clearly not the average Britain. Thus the emphasis on wills and publications like the Gentleman's Magazine. Nevertheless the timeless advice and perspective on resources from more than a century ago is worth a few minutes browsing. Find How to Trace a Pedigree by H. A. Crofton at


Anonymous said...

This looks like the little book that I found in my local library here in England in about 1980. I borrowed it, read it about three times, and started to write things down. Still haven't stopped. Just found a new fourth or fifth cousin this week!

Celia Lewis said...

Charming useful little book, John. I enjoyed reading it cover to cover!
And - Oh to have the records from the Four Courts in Dublin for my Irish ancestors.