Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Where to Start?

When you first start to delve into your family history you either know quite clearly which line to follow or you tend to dabble in each line using the facts you have at hand. If you have elderly relatives you can ask questions, if they are willing to talk – sometimes they aren’t. You can search for old photographs both of the family and the places they lived and you can visit those places and take new photographs. You can visit libraries and museums to find out about the local and social history of an area. All these things give you background information and a sense of how your ancestors lived and worked. After that you come to the actual research using things like Census returns, parish records and public records. When I first started this entailed visiting local archives and record offices but today lots of this information can be found on the internet. There are many helpful sites and this is great if you have internet access at home or can visit your local library to use their facilities.

When I started to research, in the late 1980s, I chose my father’s family first. My father died at the age of 45 when I was only 5 and for some reason I felt drawn to finding out more. Even though the family had lived for many years at Langwith Junction in Nottinghamshire they had moved there early in the 20th century from South Derbyshire. My father was born in Newhall, Derbyshire so that was the place to start. I visited the Derbyshire records office and scoured the parish registers extracting all the Goughs I could find, intending to sort them out at home. The next thing was to visit the area and take photographs of the churches at Stapenhill and Newhall and look for any MIs (memorial inscriptions). Unfortunately most of the head stones had been removed from St. Peter's, Stapenhill churchyard but there were many still standing in Newhall churchyard and there I found the graves of my 3x great grandfather Benjamin Gough and his wife Hannah and also that of my 2x great grandfather Benjamin Gough and his 3rd wife Elizabeth. There were several other Gough inscriptions too. This was a great start.

Newhall St John Church

The gravestone of Benjamin and Elizabeth Gough

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