Welcome to the Ancestry Academy…

September is here and children all over the country are heading back to school. It’s the perfect time to dig out your pencil case and do some learning of your own – in the Ancestry Academy! Whether you’re a new starter or a top set whiz kid, this week’s lessons will help you develop your family history skills and make brand new discoveries.

Tuesday, Second Period, Local studies

Parish records: Putting down roots

Once your family tree takes you back before 1837, you have to leave large national records like censuses behind and turn your attention to parish registers, taken at a local level around the country. While this can make it a bit harder to pinpoint your ancestors, it does give your findings a new sense of intimacy, as you work your way through the generations of a tight-knit community.

Teacher’s note: Our parish records are available to Premium and Worldwide members. You may need to upgrade your membership to complete these lessons.

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New starters

We’ll look at how you can use parish records to continue on from censuses and birth, marriage and death indexes. You can build a timeline of your family’s baptisms, marriages and burials, and extend your family tree further back in time.

We’ve traced our family as far as our 3x great-grandparents Charles and Phoebe Sidey. We’ve found them living together in London in the 1841 Census, but they married before 1837, so they’re not in the official index. Parish records could have the answer…

  1. Too easy?

    1Let’s see if we can find Charles and Phoebe’s wedding in London. Go to London Marriages and Banns, 1754–1921 and search for Charles Sidey, with the first name Phoebe as the spouse under ‘Family Member’. The second result, in February 1835, looks right – the bride’s transcribed as Phaebe Davidge, but click on View Image, and you can see on the original record that it could just as easily have been Phoebe.

  2. Too easy?

    2Interestingly, the witnesses on the record are Ebenezer and Charlotte Davidge. Could these be Phoebe’s parents? If so, we could use that information to find her baptism record. Try London Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906 – use the name Phoebe Davidge, we know from the 1841 Census she was born around 1814, and now we can enter two family members – father Ebenezer and mother Charlotte.

  3. Too easy?

    3The top result is very promising – a Phoebe Davidge baptised in London in 1816, with the father Ebenezer. But the mother is listed as Elizabeth. Does that mean we have the wrong person? Scroll down a bit. You’ll see an 1819 baptism record for a Charlotte Davidge , with the same parents in the same parish, St Giles. This was clearly Phoebe’s sister – we have the right family, it’s just that Phoebe chose her father and sister as witnesses for her wedding.

  4. Too easy?

    4Let’s see if we can also find Ebenezer’s burial. Use London Deaths and Burials, 1813-1980, and as it’s a fairly uncommon name, just search for Ebenezer Davidge. You’ll see two correct matches, both in St Giles. However, the first was born around 1813 – so there’s no way he could have had a daughter who married in 1835. The second died in 1836 aged 60 – this seems to be our 4x great-grandfather.

  5. Too easy?

    5Just take a closer look at that first Ebenezer Davidge. It seems likely he was part of our family. He died aged 25 in 1838 – was he the elder Ebenezer’s son, buried just two years after his father? Click ‘View Image’, and you can see his abode listed as Aldgate Workhouse. It seems that this member of the Davidge family had a short, sad life.

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We could keep uncovering more and more members of the Davidge family using parish records. Phoebe and Charlotte’s next sister was born in St Giles in 1822. Can you use her parents’ names to discover her name in London Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906?

Note down the answer and keep it safe until the end of the week – you’ll be tested on your responses on Friday!



Monday's free period

Prize Draw 1

Family Tree Maker

Win 1 of 10 copies of our latest software

Be one of the first people to get your hands
on the new and improved version of our award-winning family history software. It comes complete with improved integration with your Ancestry.co.uk account, advanced charts and reports, interactive timelines and maps, and many more great new features.
We have ten copies ready to be won.

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Closing date 30th September

Tuesday’s free period

Prize Draw 2

WDYTYA? magazine

10 subscriptions up for grabs

Trace your family's past and discover your roots with Who Do You Think You Are? magazine. Brought to you by the team
behind BBC History Magazine, and the
official companion to the successful TV
series, WDYTYA? magazine's features
range from military to social history, telling
the stories of ordinary and extraordinary people and how they used to live. We have ten subscriptions to give away.

Enter the prize draw

Closing date 30th September

Wednesday’s free period

Prize Draw 3

Worldwide Memberships

Win 1 of 5 annual memberships

Our worldwide membership provides everything you need to trace your family history around the world. Scour the globe
with unlimited access to our entire library
of over 7 billion records, plus guaranteed access to all our new releases. We have
five annual memberships to give away.

Enter the prize draw

Closing date 30th September

Thursday’s free period

Prize Draw 4

National Trust passes

Win 1 of 50 pairs of tickets

We’re working with the National Trust to preserve our nation’s history, and help you uncover your family’s place in it. To
celebrate our partnership, we’re giving away 50 pairs of day passes to the National Trust property of your choice. Don’t miss the
chance to experience the history of Uppark, see the beauty of Fountains Abbey, or visit another of the Trust’s 350 properties.

Enter the prize draw

Closing date 30th September