Frequently asked questions


Frequently asked questions

How far can you trace my ancestors back to?

This will vary from family to family as each research project is different. Many factors can affect the success of research ranging from migration, surname variations, social status, occupation, and religious allegiance. There are gaps in some records with survival of records varying from county to county, and parish to parish. It is important to stress that no document was ever created for the sole benefit of a genealogist. The further you go back in time, there may be no mention of your ancestor anywhere unless those who kept records encroached on your ancestor’s life.

Ancestors may have lived in a place for only a short time and shifted considerable distances during their lifetime – it can be difficult to prove that an ancestor born in, say Amsterdam, was the same one who was found living in Paris 30 years later. If your ancestor was a Hugenot, Roman Catholic, had a common surname, was an immigrant, or had a job that necessitated migration around the county, then there will be different research challenges compared to an ancestor who was indigenous to a certain area, never travelled and a member of the Established Church. Positive proof of a genealogical relationship is not always possible.

That said, there is generally a good survival of European family history resources for the 17th and 18th centuries in local archives and from 19th and 20th centuries with the civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths starting in 1811. A family tree going back about 200-250 years should be achievable for most people with indigenous European ancestors using widely available resources like the census and records of civil registration, although ‘brick walls’ and difficulties can sometimes be encountered. Even relatively modern records have their problems.

Research can often be advanced back into the 18th and 17th centuries using parish registers of baptisms, marriages, and burials which commenced in 1474, although survival back to this date is sporadic. Using a combination of parish poor law records, wills, land, tax and manorial records, where these records survive, some research can be taken back in the 16th century (and beyond in some limited cases). However, research into most family trees does tend to stall in the 18th century depending on the status of the family and sources available. You should not expect to be of noble descent with a castle waiting for you! In reality, most research will stall somewhere in the 17th or 18th century as this is when records tend to have gaps, or can be in poor condition.

With every quotation I will endeavour to assess the feasibility of your family history research before you commit and sometimes research in specialist archives might be required. Please feel free to provide me with any documents and information that you might already have to assist with my prognosis and quotation.

I offer a guarantee with my fixed price packages that if there is any reason why I cannot research your family tree back beyond 1900, or on examination of your family history information I think your research is not feasible or not cost effective, I will provide a full refund.

Do you just do research in The Netherlands?

No. I also speak English, French, German and Italian and so I can work in Belgium, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and all over the rest of the Anglo-Saxon world. I focus much of my genealogical research in these areas especially when looking for pre-19th century sources. However, I can advise on and undertake research elsewhere – please contact me to discuss your requirements.

What kind of sources can you search for traces of my ancestors?

I make use of many sources, including those that only tend to be available in county record offices or other specialist archives. Although this list is not exhaustive, sources and records I might examine in searching for your ancestors include:

  • Parish registers
  • Other church registers (e.g. Hugenots, Protestants and other religious groups)
  • Census returns and other pre-19th century ‘census substitutes’
  • Trade and other professional directories
  • Wills and other probate records & indexes
  • Electoral registers and poll books
  • Parish poor law records and workhouse registers
  • Birth, marriage and death indexes and certificates of General Registration
  • Maps (e.g. tithe maps, enclosure awards)
  • Overseas records of births, marriages and deaths
  • Military records
  • Local and national newspapers
  • Cemetery records and monumental inscriptions
  • Passenger lists & naturalisation records
  • Business records.
How long will my family history research take?

I aim to complete straight-forward research within 5-6 weeks, but an estimate will be provided with your quotation. For research packages, tracing two surnames (e.g. your paternal grandparents) can take up to 3 months, but times will vary. Once I have received your research instructions, I am normally able to commence your research straight away. I will always update you if there is a delay for any reason. Complex research may take longer.

What payment forms do you accept?

Clients in and outside Europe can transfer money to my bankaccount, by PayPall, debit or credit card. With a personalized search clients outside Europe pay in advance, clients inside Europe pay after completion of the search. Unless we agree otherwise. With the fixed price packages every clients pays in advance.

I live outside The Netherlands. Can you help find my ancestors?

Absolutely. That said, it may take longer than the 5-6 weeks I have mentioned here above.

What information do you need from me to assist your research?

For family tree packages, I will ask you to complete a family questionnaire. When starting a family tree from scratch, any information that you know about your ancestors, however insignificant, might be useful. If you have any photographs, documents, or even family myths and anecdotes these are often invaluable initial sources of information so please share them with me. Known names, dates, places, occupations, educational background, religious affiliations, and known military service are all relevant. I do not want to waste your money going over old ground, so please tell me of any research you have done yourself in the past and the outcome of that research.

How about privacy?

All your personal information will be held in confidence. For more information on this subject, see Terms and Conditions.