JUST STARTING?   sapling


  • Begin with what you know – note down all your family members with the dates of birth, marriage & death (BMD);
  • Talk to other family members and collect their information – the older the better. Record their memories;
  • It is generally easier to start from recent history and work backwards than to go to a date in the past and work forwards;
  • Organise the information chronologically so that you will see more clearly how individuals relate together within the family;
  • Build your tree from yourself “upwards and outwards”;
  • You will very soon see that you need a good way of retrieving and cross-referencing the information – a computer is the best tool, perhaps (almost) essential (?) – BUT DON’T LET IT DETER YOU!
  • Investigate the many software versions of tree-builders on the market – they are not essential but do help you to organise and remember as your tree gains branches … and the leaves appear. There is a wide range of prices and the expensive ones are certainly not necessarily the best;
  • Begin to create a “Time-Line” so that you can place your relatives’ lives within global, national and local events – it is a good way to maintain and invigorate your interest beyond simple names and dates, placing PEOPLE into what was going on around them and what they experienced or read about;
  • Purchasing Birth / Marriage / Death Certificates from the GRO or local register offices provides the best clues – learn more here: Certificates-and-how-to-get-them
  • Contact the Hastings & Rother Family History Society – join us
  • If you need help, advice or support we could be the ones

These forms may help to get you going: 

Time Line 1800-2000 a blank grid to insert notable dates of your family with national or local events

Tree Builder  a blank tree to insert relatives from any given start-point

Family Record  another blank grid to record details of family members


bright idea 2  … and have you thought it would be a great idea to get your OWN LIFE down on paper for future generations researching their tree?

A Word or two on Websites  website clipart


    • Government-sponsored website which allows you to search online for births, marriages and deaths FREE of charge. All events from September quarter (July, Aug, Sept) 1837 to 1983 are available.
    • There is also a direct link to the Public Record Office (PRO) should you wish to purchase any certificates after you have discovered a relative.
    • Although official records began in 1837, the site also has a more limited search of parish records and censuses through its “freereg” and “freecen” pages.
    • FreeBMD is, perhaps, the best site if you have a specific birth, marriage or death to search when you know the name and have a rough idea of where the event took place … in the UK


There are many other websites available which allow wider searches and joined-up searches, gathering data on BMD censuses and other data-bases. These, however, charge and can become quite expensive depending on how much searching you do. They are generally subscription – which is more economical if you are using them often – or “Pay-to-View” where you don’t join but buy credits to view information deeper than a name index. There is likely to be a “free trial” opportunity on offer but this can quickly expire and the subscriber has to remember to cancel if they wish to come out at the end of the free trial … BEWARE!

The good news is that public libraries and record offices tend to have a licence which allows free access to the main one, Ancestry.co.uk. Most of these venues require you to book a time and place to use their computers and may well limit the time spent on a machine at any one sitting.

Website charges are not made by HRFHS

See our links page for other useful websites.