11:26 26 June 2009
As we look back into our family histories, the truth becomes hazy and someone that we were told was a relative might actually have lived next door to a relative.
To clear up this confusion, many people are using the power of the internet to help clear the mist surrounding their family's past.
There are many websites dedicated to helping those people who want to research their family trees. We have compiled a listing of the best websites to help anyone who wants to dip their toe into the fascinating art of genealogy.
But before you start, here are some guidelines that will make life easier as you try and trace your family tree.
Decide whether you want to research male line ancestors, female line ancestors (much harder to do as nearly everything was always registered in the husband's name) or even an ancestry chart, which shows both male and female lines.
This last suggestion is the hardest to do. But whichever you choose, it is often best to choose one area and work through it until you have completed it.
But don't believe everything they tell you - it could turn out that the axe murdering cousin was simply a neighbour's uncle who had fallen foul of gossip!
There are two main areas where you will get data from. Births deaths and marriage records and census records. But if you want to go back to before 1837, you will have to start delving into Parish Records.
All Parish Records are now kept at the local County Records Office. Most will allow you free access but some may charge you a small fee. Remember too that before 1737 most records are in Latin.
There's lots of software available - some of it free - to help you trace your family tree.
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