our family stories

Family stories are what makes genealogy so rewarding. Funny, moving, unusual or heartwarming, real-life tales of your ancestors' activities bring them to life in a way names and dates alone can never do. Here, we're giving you the chance to share your favourite stories, and enjoy those from other members. Perhaps you can pick up tips from their research?

Lesley's story

My great-grandad performed for the King

Lesley Elson, Kent

Lesley’s famous relative brought the house down at the turn of the century

I was delighted to discover I had a celebrated actor in my family tree. My great-grandad even performed for George V during an extremely successful career.

My relative was the famous Gaiety actor and comedian Edmund 'Teddy' Payne. Edmund was born in Dalston London in 1863 and started 'treading the boards' when he was a teenager.

He began in touring companies going around the country putting on shows. He got his first 'big break' in about 1882 in Faust Up-to-Date, produced by George Edwardes.

This was the start of a great career with the famous Gaiety Theatre. There's a film of my great-granddad called the Gaiety Duet, made in 1909, and he made a few recordings for HMV.

I've found out that he even appeared in a Gala Performance at His Majesty's Theatre in London in front of George V. This was put on to celebrate the new King's coronation in 1911.

Edmund was well respected by his peers and a great favourite with audiences. He died in 1914 – his death made the front page of the Daily Mirror and was reported in The New York Times and as far away as Australia. England lost a great actor – I'm so proud to be his great-granddaughter.

QUICK TIP

It's not just the famous who appear in newspapers – the most ordinary folk can appear in print, whether they've been caught up in national events, witnessed a crime or made it into the birth, marriage and death notices. Check for your relatives in our archive of The Times from 1788 to 1833

My ancestor was photographed by the Queen

Lin Hyde, via emailRead more

My forebear was an accidental bigamist

Eilleen Parsons, North DevonRead more

Share your stories

Do you have a funny, exciting or unusual family story to share? Send it to us, and you could win two day-passes to a National Trust property of your choice, plus a cream tea voucher.

Please use no more than 300 words and include your name, address and phone number. We’ll select one winner each month, plus two other stories to publish here. See *terms and conditions.

Send us a story

Share your photos

If you have interesting pictures of your ancestors you'd like to share, why not join our Flickr group? It's absolutely free, and is a great way to meet other members researching the same people. Check out our current photos and find out how to join

Uncover your family's secrets

Story submission agreement

By submitting stories or other information: (1) I give Ancestry.com Operations Inc. ("Ancestry.com") permission to copy, edit, distribute or republish my story and any photos, crediting me as the source; (2) I accept that I have no right to receive payment for my story and Ancestry.com is not liable to me for any use of my story; (3) I confirm that I am at least 18 years of age.

Competition Terms and Conditions

The Promoter of the prize draw is Ancestry.com UK Limited (CRN: 05246359) of Amberley Place, 107-111 Peascod Street, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 1TE. The draw is open to UK residents aged 18 and over, except employees and immediate families of the Promoter, their agents or anyone professionally connected with this draw. Only one entry per person, entries submitted which don't win will be carried forward to the next month's draw, no bulk or third party entries. The entry must consist of your name, address, contact phone number and email along with your family story and relevant photographs. Closing date for receipt of all entries is the 28th day of each month with the final prize draw closing on 28 December 2010. Proof of sending is not proof of receipt. No responsibility can be accepted for entries incomplete, delayed, damaged, wrongly delivered or not received for whatever reason. No cash alternatives to the prize will be offered, and the prize is not transferable. The winner will be notified by e-mail or phone within 14 days of each closing date. An independent person will draw the winning entry. The Promoter's decision is final and binding. No correspondence will be entered into. By entering into this draw you accept these terms and conditions. The Promoter reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value should circumstances make this necessary. The winner's name and county will be available 28 days after each closing date from Ancestry.co.uk, 3rd Floor, Waterfront Building, Hammersmith Embankment, Chancellors Road, London, W6 9RU, UK. The Promoter reserves the right to use the winners name in promotional activity relating to this draw. In the event of any prize not being claimed within 1 month of each closing date, a redraw will take place with no further obligation or liability to the intial winner.

National Trust day pass terms and conditions:

  1. Not valid at the following houses and gardens: Ascott, Avebury Manor and Garden, Antony Woodland Garden, Boarstall Tower, Buscot Park, Carrick-a-Rede, Chastleton House, Clumber Park, Coleridge Cottage, Crom, Dunster Working Water Mill, Eastbury Manor House, 20 Forthlin Road, Gawthorpe Hall, Giant's Causeway, Gondola, Grantham House, Greenway, Gunby Hall, Hardy's Cottage, The Homewood, Horton Court, Lawrence House, Little Clarendon, Lundy, Max Gate, Mendips, Murlough NRR, Oakhurst Cottage, Old Soar Manor, Orford Ness, Philipps House, Portstewart Strand, Priest's House, Red House, Shugborough, Stembridge Tower Mill, St Michael's Mount, Tatton Park, Treasurer's House (Martock), Waddesdon Manor, Wakehurst Place, West Green House Garden, Westwood Manor, White Mill, and all properties managed by Historic House Hotels Ltd, English Heritage CADW and local authorities.
  2. The card must be surrendered upon admission and is not transferable against the cost of membership.
  3. Photocopies will not be accepted.
  4. There is no cash alternative.
  5. The card cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.
  6. Valid at participating properties during the published opening times. Please check individual opening times before you visit.
  7. Not valid at National Trust events where a separate charge is made.
  8. Not valid on Bank Holidays or Bank Holiday weekends.
I accept