Ormskirk Market Day

You may know where your parents came from, even maybe your Grandparents but have you ever wondered WHO they came from? You may know your Grandparents or who they were but who were their parents? Uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters etc? Where did they live, what were their jobs? The lists can be endless!

Well, here's a Beginners' Guide to get you started to researching your Family Tree or Family History : Your Family Tree is just who was born to who and is related to who else but as you progress you may start to find out more about them - where they worked, education, what they looked like from old photos, descriptions etc - "putting the skin on their bones" as they say, this is researching your Family History. This is by no means a detailed guide but should at least get you well on your way into finding WHO YOU HAVE COME FROM.

This guide contains some links to pages which you can print off and aid you in your research - please press your - BACK - button on your Web browser to return to this page after viewing them.

For an index of downloadable forms please go the the Forms Index - the link is on the right below "Getting Started"


SO, where do you start? With yourself! Quite often people start with their parents, Grandparents etc but remember - your descendants may carry this on so your information is just as important. So starting with yourself write down a pedigree tree i.e. your DIRECT ancestors that is your two parents, your four grandparents etc as far back as you can using the pedigree sheet.

Then from your pedigree chart and starting with yourself, write down everything you can think of about yourself using the family sheet i.e. - birth, baptism, parents (with your Mother's MAIDEN Name), where you lived, education (Primary, Secondary, etc), Employment details, Marriage (remember to enter your own or your wife's MAIDEN name), when and where etc, any children and so on.

Then repeat the same process next for your parents, i.e. - you will be in the Children entry along with any brothers and sisters you may have, then again for each set of Grandparents etc, so you will now hopefully be building up a good foundation Tree to build upon.


Right you now need to ask your relations some questions to start filling in some gaps!
We have provided some sheets which can help you with this and you can print off if you wish - Questionnaire 1 deals with direct ancestors and Questionnaire 2 deals with related ones - brothers/sisters, uncles/aunts and their families,   These can be distributed around your family or you can just use them as a guide when you visit relatives.  Many elderly relatives love to chat about their family and regale you with stories of the goings on.
With this information you can start filling in the gaps in your Pedigree and Family Sheet
the grave to see if there is a headstone to verify the information (it may give new information on other ancestors!), which leads me to an important point - always verify information you get (without upsetting anyone!) by other sources e.g. Birth, Marriage and Death certificates, gravestones (as above) etc. It's surprising how people can get their facts wrong so consider and note what anyone tells you no matter how ordinary or bizarre (family legends are good for this but they might be based on some real facts) but always try to verify them from other sources.
Also ask if they have any other information like Family Heirlooms, Certificates, old photos, Family Bibles, newspaper cuttings and scrapbooks, War medals (may have name, rank and number on them) etc that you could look at - anything that you think could be of help.


Birth, Marriages and Death certificates

You need to determine from your information what you need next. If you have, say, a Grandfather who was born about 1906 in Ormskirk you can look for his birth on websites such as Lancashirebmd or freebmd.  Both of these sites list births, marriages and deaths starting in 1837 when Civil Registration began.  Lancashirebmd is a free site which has information for the whole of the old County of Lancashire, so includes places  such as Liverpool and Manchester.  It has a link to Lancashire Registry Services so that you can order any certificates you may need.  Freebmd covers the whole of England and Wales (Scotland and Ireland each have their own sites).  Both sites are still a work in progress, so do not have complete information.  On the freebmd site you are told which quarter of the year the event you are interested in took place, where it happened and the number of the book it is recorded in plus the page number.  Using this information you can order copies of certificates from the General Register Office.
  • Birth certificates mainly give you the Father's name and the Mother's MAIDEN name (to then look for a Marriage) and an address to look up on a census if the date is dated around 1891 or earlier.
  • Marriage certificates mainly give you the Groom's name, the Bride's MAIDEN name, where they lived, their ages (although this may say "full" - if they were over 21), and the Fathers' names of both Bride and Groom and their Occupations, and the names of the Witnesses (sometimes other relations).
  • Death certificates mainly give you the name of the Deceased, what they died of, name of the informant (usually a relation), the appropriate addresses, the age of the Deceased when they died and sometimes their date of Birth!
Birth, Marriage and Death records are widely available on the internet on subscription sites such as Ancestry and Findmypast.  Also on the free to view site Family Search. (Ancestry and Findmypast are free to view in libraries in Lancashire)
The Society has transcribed some bmd records, mainly Catholic ones, and these are available to purchase on CD - see our sales page.

If you know of any of your ancestors that were around before April 1911 and you knew roughly whereabouts they lived then you may find them on a census, these are a great source of information.

Censuses were taken every 10 years starting from 1801 onwards for Goverment statistics but the ones useful to genealogists are the 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 AND 1911 censuses (there is a 100 year Goverment rule so we could only look at the 1911 census from 1st January 2012). These censuses can be found on subscription website and also in Libraries, local Archive Offices etc and some have been indexed (see our Publications Page for our covered areas) and they contain details of Families where they lived - the 1841 one contains their names, ages (over 16 they're rounded down to multiples of 5, i.e. if someone was 28 they're shown as 25 years old), marital status, Occupation and if they were born in the County or not. From 1851 onwards they also show their relationships to the head of the household, where they were born and the County, and their ages are no longer rounded down.

So using the Census sheet you can copy the relevant information off the census entry you find, and add to your information.

Similar to the Census is the 1939 Register, which was compiled at the beginning of WW2 in order for identity cards and ration books to be distributed.   This gives similar information to a Census record but includes actual dates of birth.  The 100 year closure rule also applies to this register so entries for people who would not now be over 100 years old and are believed to be still alive, have been blocked out.

Parish Records
These are mainly Baptisms, Marriage and Burial record entries which can go back to the 1600's in some cases, and are mostly held at your local County Record Offices (the Lancashire Records Office at Bow Lane, Preston for our area) or may still be at the Church if they are fairly recent. So if you know where someone was born, married or passed away, find out the Churches for that area, find out where the Parish records are held and the dates covered, look up the relevant records there and using the Parish Record sheet note down the relevant information.

Well, that should be enough to get you started. Next, it may help to read some books on researching your Family Tree/History and there are numerous booklets specialising on particular topics like Parish Records, Wills (another good source), St Catherine's index etc, maybe join a Local Family History Society (like ourselves!) or one that relates to the area that your ancestors came from, and seek advice from other genealogists who should be only too happy to help you - after all we all started this sometime ourselves!

Ormskirk Church
Ormskirk Parish

Ormskirk railwaymen 1908
Ormskirk Station

Scarisbrick Hall 1815
Scarisbrick Hall

Skelmersdale Station

Moor Street market
Moor Street