Following numerous enquiries of how our family history was researched I have produced this mini-guide, which I hope to expand in the future.

I would point out that I am not an expert in Genealogy, but a dedicated amateur who has
acquired a lot of facts and has learnt how to put them to good use, in the pursuit of
recording my family history, and becoming obsessed with history in general.

With Thanks:

I owe a great debt to my late father, and mother for all their hard work in researching our family history.

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My father knew he had some famous connections, back in the 1950's, but apart from his immediate family knowledge, he only had a rough outline of various family members.

If I recall correctly, it was back in the 1960's, I was in my teens then, that my grandfather gave my father one of two volumes of "Burkes Peerage" The Royal Families of England, Scotland & Wales; the other copy he gave to my Uncle.

In the copy that my father got it had the entry for "Charles Maximilian Thomas Western" a copy of which I have reproduced (the best that I could: it is a late 19th Century 1st Edition, and is not easy to copy) on my web page link "Pedigree" Link to Pedigree

This discovery, got him hooked on finding out more.

As with any investigation, you need facts, and once you have those facts, you need to verify them from other sources. My parents spent time writing down all they knew regarding their immediate relations, asked elderly family members, before it was too late.

So often valuable information is lost because most people only become interested in their origins when they themselves reach middle age or have time on their hands. This is generally the time in their lives when their own parents, Uncles, Aunts etc.. alas, depart this world.

Anyway, once they had gathered all that they could the next step was to obtain copies of Birth, Marriage & Death Certificates; Wills, Deeds etc. from Public Records Offices (Somerset House etc.) and also, once they had located where the "Family" had its Roots ) in our case Essex in England; they made numerous visits to that County, consulting Parish Registers, visiting Church's, Graveyards and speaking to local people.

I suppose they were lucky in some respects due to the fact that we had a number of "Famous in their time" Western's, and there is a lot of recorded information on them, from other sources, e.g., Local Papers, History Books on Essex, Library's and other documents associated with either their nobility or titles.

Having said that , my parents did not know any of this except from what they saw in the "Pedigree" which was basically their major starting point.

Once they had sorted out all the information they had been gathering over the years they began creating a hand drawn Family Tree. It started growing as they found out more. Got amended when errors were discovered.

The main reason they were able to trace so far back, is partly due to the "Famous Western's", but LUCK played an important part, as well as the will to carry on regardless.

In the U.K. the Parish Records are generally the ones that have information going back further in time, as compared to the Public Record Offices, as these PRO's as they are referred to, are historically a recent phenomenon, and their records generally only go back 200-300 years.

I only started my interest in my Family History, in my late 30's when I found that there was software designed to record Genealogy, at which point I started to input all the information my parents had gathered. That got me hooked. Due to the links to King Edward 111 shown in the "Pedigree" I started to expand my database out of all recognition from my parent's original.

I am still adding to it as I write. My main goal however, is to trace my family's direct line, back even further. To do this however, I need the help of experts in Holland where Robert W.E. Sterne, a Merchant from Holland came to England around 1304.

I hope this brief history of how "We" did it helps you. In addition to this there are many books, articles on the subject. Why not try your local library or the Genealogy links on my Web Site;  most, if not all I have consulted even to this day.


Peter Western

Summary of how we did it:

(These tips are not in any specific order as you will find your own best way of doing it and find that you retrace these steps in a different order for different people you are trying to find.)

·1    Get as much verbal information from living relatives (Tip> Tape record conversations and write it out later. That way you can gather a lot of facts for sorting at a later date.)

·2    Try to keep old letters, diaries, photo's Family Bible, and other keepsakes that may have been handed down, and keep your own records. After all your great grandchildren may wish to keep your research going.

·3    Write down the names of all the relatives you can on one list, grouped into families. Then on a large piece of paper, create a rough "Tree" in pencil. "Study it", you will soon realize you have probably left of "Uncle xxx",who may have either,died when young, emigrated and has lost touch.

·4    Make contact with all known living relatives (if not already done so - and don't be afraid to ask awkward questions e.g. why did Aunt xxx go away for a year back in 1930?)

      Also keep in touch, you may need to ask more questions later on.

·5    When you have created a Tree you believe is as far as you can get, pass it around the family to proof read. you will find errors, and may even jog their minds, and get even more useful facts.

·6    In this computer age, transfer all your information into some sort of Genealogy application.( Don't ignore the manual recording however, as good quality paper, if looked after, is expected to outlive computer disks.)

       The age of books in National Libraries throughout the World, bear this out. Once on your computer, you can use is searching speed and other functions to assist you organize your findings. Print reports, cross reference entries etc.

This list is not exhaustive and I will probably remember or find some other useful things to add to it in the future. above all you need patience, dedication, endurance and the will to find out more.

I hope this is helpful. If you come up with any useful tips please send me an e-mail and I can add this to my Web Site.   

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