Ask An Expert

Welcome to our web chat

Anthony Adolph, professional genealogistWelcome to the Genes Reunited web chat, where you can get help and advice from our resident genealogist and expert family historian, Anthony Adolph. To find out more about Anthony click here.

Thanks again to Anthony and everyone who joined in on the sessions so far.

Search Ask an Expert


Questions already answered

Page 3 + 1 of 133

  1. «
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. 8
  10. 9
  11. 10
  12. »
Name Date
Karen Withers 20/02/2007 20:57:56

Hi Anthony My grandad Stanley Withers had a sister who was put up for adoption. We don't know when she was born, or anything other than her name, Rosie. Any ideas how to trace her?

You could seek Rosie's original birth certificate in General Registration, searching across the likeliest years in which she would have been born and checking for the correct parents' names. If she was formally adopted (the system started in 1926), you should now be able to hire an agent to seek information on her - see for more details.

Karen Withers 23/01/2007 20:57:34

How can i trace german ancestors? My great grandmother, Thekler Klime is on no english records although we think she did live here once.

If your German ancestor lived in England, you can seek her marrying or dying here, and if she was here by 1901 you can seek her in the 1901 census. Then, persue research in Germany - the records there are pretty similar to ours, but you do need to know roughly where abouts in the country to start looking. Localising the surname using telephone directories is a good way of starting.

Mavis Winthrop 23/03/2004 21:08:41

Hello Anthony I'm looking for a brother who was born in 1944/45 in the Gateshead area, at the house of an aunt. I'm afraid I know very little as I only found about his birth very recently. I too was adopted and was the second illegitimate child of the family, there being an older sister. Our mother went to Gateshead to have her baby and I'm not even sure if he would be adopted in that area. Please can you help me by advising how I go about finding him. Many thanks in anticipation Mavis Watson (birth name

Assuming your brother was also adopted, you would not be able to find his original name. However, you can make yourself available to him should he start looking for you. This is a good place to register your interest, and the official place to register, though, is the National Adoption Contact Register maintained by the Registrar

Diane Winter 28/01/2008 21:19:58

Hi Anthony I am trying to obtain a copy of my mothers birth certificate she was born in Lima Peru in1921 but was not registered with British Consulate even though her parents were both British.I understand from the Peruvian Embassy in London that I need to apply to the Town Hall in Lima But they cannot give me an address so I do not know how to contact them any ideas please.Diane

I've answered this one personally already, haven't I?

DARREN WINDSOR 18/10/2011 21:51:40

hi,i have been trying to find information on my grandfather, his name was kenneth walter wilks.he was born in 1898 i was told he was adopted.

They didn't have formal adoption in those days, but even informal fostering can cause we genealogists a lot of trouble. See what his marriage record says, seek him in the 1911 and 1901 censuses, and then see if a birth can be found. What to do thereafter depends entirely on what you find in the records I have just suggested.

John Wilson 19/02/2013 21:09:09

Hi Anthony We are trying to trace my wife's great-grandfather who, we believe, was a member of the aristocracy. He fathered seven children with the lady who took his surname but they did not marry. The whole affair was covered up and finding absolute proof of this is proving very difficult. The children's birth certificates and marriage certificates use his second christian name of Henry but he was known in public as Algernon. Am I right - and do you know - if pre-1857(?) a woman could give any man's name as the father but, after this date, the true father had either to be present or to have given his written authority to be named. If this is correct, would you know if such letters of authority were kept and, if so, where. Have you ever come across such documents ? Do you also know if illegitimate children could be baptized as we cannot find any records ? Thanks.

Almost without exception the identity of the father was not recorded on the birth certificate of an illegitimate child, and no, I have never come across such letters of authority as you mention - it's a nice idea, though!, but if such letters of authority did exist then the father's name would be on the relevant certificate, so you would not need the letter...... Illegitimate children were certainly baptised - the parish registers are chock full of them. The whole issue to finding the natural, aristocratic fathers of illegitimate children - and the many reasons why such stories as yours may or may not be based in fact - is the subject of my new book (f you'll excuse the plug!), out this very week - TRACING YOUR ARISTOCRATIC ANCESTORS (Anthony Adolph, Pen and Sword, 2013)! I'll be signing copies at the Who Do You Think You Are show at Olympia this Saturday.

John Wilson 19/02/2013 21:29:09

Thanks for your reply Anthony and best of luck with your new book. I can't make this Saturday but will certainly be buying a copy. John Wilson

Thank you for your kind response - it's literally hot-off-the press, ans family stories about aristocratic ancestors, whether true or not, are a subject which has fascinated me for years, so it was good to have the opportunity to mention it! It's my contention that many stories of blue blooded ancestors are probably made up - there are so many reasons why they may not be true: but we all do have a great deal of aristocratic ancestors, every one of us, and if we could but trace back up every line, as far back as possible, to find them! But in your case, of course, I hope you will be able to prove that your story was correct: the book also explains how to do that and one of the chief and very exciting new tools for that is DNA testing. An exact match between you and a legitimate descendant of the aristocratic family in question would prove a connection beyond doubt.

John Wilson 22/11/2011 21:19:23

Hello Anthony I see you went to St Georges - so did I in 1958-1964. I remember a classmate called Adolph - was that a relative ? We are trying to trace my wife's aristocratic great-grandfather who had 7 children with great-grandmother, although they never married. All birth and marriage certs give his name as Henry Grosvenor although we strrongly believe he was Algernon Henry Grosvenor, the 4th son of the 1st Lord Ebury. In 1881 he settled a significant sum on the family by way of a Trust. Unfortunately, the solicitor's acting destroyed the file in 1980 and we cannot find any more to confirm our belief, even though we have looked in all the usual places. Do you know if a copy of the settlement form would still be held somewhere if, say, stamp duty had had to be paid. Can you think of anywhere else proof of fatherhood and true identity might be ? Best wishes John Wilson

That would be my uncle David, still alive and well. I'll out you in touch if you like - contact me at The place was awash with Wilsons in my time, as his, of course. I don't think that stamp duty would have ensured the document's survival - stamp duty was and is paid on masses of things, and there aren't copies all conveniently stored away somewhere - I say that with some confidence because, if such records existed, I think we'd be using them all the time! DNA testing may the best way forward in this case. You'd need to find a legitimate descendant of Algernon, or of a brother or other close relative of his. A comparative 'Family Finder' test with you at would show whether you were cousins or not.

Dawn Wilson 16/03/2010 21:08:08

Hi Antony, I have gone back 15 generations and would like to know what relation they are to me ad i cant get the hang of the many greats infront on the grandparents, thanking you

Your grandfather's father is your great grandfather. That man's father is his great great grandfather, and so on. For large numbers, you can say '7 x great grandfather (great great great great great great great grandfather). And well done, by the way - 15 generations is very good going. Good luck with the next 15!

Kevin Wilson 18/12/2007 21:25:04

Anthony, I cannot find my grandmother's (Lilian Dover) birth or marriage certificates. According to Irish census records she was born in Thurles, Ireland in 1893. Her English father James was in the British Army. My grandfather Frederick Godfrey was also in the Army and met my grandmother in Dublin before 1920. There is no trace of the marriage in English or Irish records. Both families were Protestant. Any suggestions.

Do you realise that Army births, marriages and deaths are recorded separately by the Registrar General? You will find them online at under 'military'

Sharon Wilson 22/01/2013 21:36:54

Hi Anthony I hope you can help. My 5X grandmother Mary Ransom was the youngest daughter of the late Stephen Ransom from Stifford, Essex. Reported marriage in Tiimes Newspaper Aug 20th 1823. Cannot find him anywhere and Mary's siblings even though one of them was witness at wedding as I have certificate.Cannot read the writing. Can you help at all please? Thank you Sharon

The fact that she was mentioned in the Times means this was a reasonably well-to-do family so there should be plenty of records for them - other references in the Times and perhaps in the Gentleman's Magazine, for example, wills and of course all the normal General Registration records and censuses. Try simply looking for these people in the censuses on this site and that should give you some clues.

Christine Wilson 20/05/2008 21:13:00

Hi Anthony, This may be less of a question and more of a puzzle. My great, grandfather was born illigitimate. He was born in the 1860s and I met him when I was a tiny child as he neared his 100th year. What is interesting is that only was he born in Ireland where the is 'scandal' still gets mentioned but his mother was well born to a wealthy family of a gentleman farmer. She got to not only keep her child, but bring him up and later her father left his money to her and the provisio in his will that 'there is always a place for my daughter in my home'. She never named the father although she did later marry. Her child got to keep her name and not take the step father's. My great grandfather became wealthy in his own right and paid for the university eduation of his step-brother much later ... I think that this Peggy must have been amazing! A woman far, far ahead of her time. What can I do to find out more about her? (there is a rumour who the father was but it is unconfirmed). Sorry if this is long! And thanks!

It is a fascinating and unusual story - actually, it sounds as if it was her father who was the one who was really ahead of his time. Many Irish wills have been lost, but you could see if, amongst those that remain in Dublin, there is one for this big-hearted man, which should tell you a bit more of the story.

Christine Wilson 20/05/2008 21:21:28

My great grandfather was a doctor in one of the camps on the Isle of Man where prisioners were held during WW2. How best can I find out more about his time there and the type of work he did? Please?

"Medical Registers" will comfirm when and where he worked, and that is all I would expect to find, because records of doctors' case work are not available for searching.

Christine Wilson 20/05/2008 21:58:07

Thank you Anthony for your reply about my great-grandfather's birth 'situation'. I believe a will exists or a copy of it and that my Aunt has seen it. I am having her ramsack her home for it as we speak. Failing that I will try the remaining records in Belfast?/Dublin. Thanks for your help.

The situation regarding wills in Ireland is moderately complicated: I did my best to summarise the situation in my "Tracing Your Irish Family History"

Christine Wilson 21/10/2008 21:00:25

Hi Anthony, I was really pleased to trace my family back to a christening at St Anne’s, Shankill, Belfast in 1805. I was actually born in the hospital situated on the Shankill so there is something very satisfying about this - I’d just like to go back a bit further! It gave the name of my g g grandfather but only the first names of his parents - not their address or occupation and as the names are James and Margaret Wilson (very common) - it is very hard for me to trace this line back further. I am disappointed and frustrated and wonder what you suggest I do want to get back at least one more generation. I could go to St Anne’s Shankill ( if it is still there) but would they have kept fuller records? Thanks.

There are many potential sources, such as deeds, wills, memorial inscriptions and so on, but of course it depends on circumstances and fate whether any exist for your people, or if any have survived. The next step under normal circumstances would be to seek the marriage of the parents identified in the christening, but I assume the registers don’t survive to enable that. However, you may be able to pick up likely members of the preceding generation in the burial registers.

David Albert Wilson 25/04/2006 21:20:17

Hi Antony I have traced my family in the 1851/1871/1881/and in the 1901 Census but I can not find them in the 1861 or the 1891 Census can you give me a reason for this? I have my fathers birth Certificate with his fathers name on it but I can not find any trace of any Marriage or birth/death records I have Searched the BDM records without any joy Regards dave

The censuses are not very well indexed, and names in them were spelled as they were spoken. There are therefore two possible impediments between you and the original returns. Think how the names could have been spelled at the time or misread and misindexed later. Regarding the second half of your question, I'm afraid you will need to be more specific before I can give a meaningful answer.

Deborah Wilson 24/01/2006 21:16:21

Hi Anthony Im trying to trace marriage and birth entry for 1st born to no avail. According to a great aunt her grandmother from St Lukes,MSX(or City Rd, London depending on census) was related to the famous brewer family the Combes of London. Met her husband from Newcastle mid 1850's. Their 1st born son also born same area as mother abt 1857(according to census). I cannot no record of his birth, their marriage. Help!!! thank you Debbie

I suggest working back steadily from what you know for sure about your great aunt and also (using the censuses as a starting point) do the same for the famous brewing family, and if there really was a connection this will emerge as you trace back.

Susan Wilson 18/01/2005 21:01:09

Hi, Ive been trying to trace my great grandfather, I have a copy of his birth cert. 1880 Boddom Peterhead, he was illegitimate, but both parents signed. Thing is he disapears until his marriage in 1903, I have his mothers birth cert. Found his grand parents from mothers side. his mother turns up in 1891census married to an unrelated man but no sign of my gt.grandfather. Is there any way to find KidsHomes in Scotland(1881-1981) online? Or any ideas where elese to look.

Not on-line, no, but you can research what Childrens' Homes were in the area, using local directories, for example. If they are not in existence any more, ask at the nearest archives or even local studies library, who may be able to help you track the records down. In fact, I have a feeling there is a directory of childrens' homes, but I cannot put my finger on it just now. On the links page of my website is a link to Ross Brent's Institutions website. That may help you in this case.

Jacqueline Willingham 19/09/2006 21:17:33

Hi Anthony.Mine is probably a more recent relative than most. Gladys Jackson b 1912 had a son out of wedlock c1938. He believed his fathers name to be Peter Preston but it recently transpired not to be the case. Peter Preston was in fact his alter ego after he stole this identity. What was his real name? All we know about "unknown" is that as a child he was in a workhouse in South Shields. Catherine Cookson the writer was working there at the time and helped out by telling the children stories."Unknown" got out of the workhouse by gaining an apprenticeship as a coffin maker. Are there any records I could search without having a name to go on?

Stole, or simply acquired the name because he never knew his parents? The workhouse records would obviously be worth a look, if they survive he workhouse attendants - see But, generally, without a name to go on, genealogical research becomes pretty tricky.

Jacqueline Willingham 20/02/2007 21:54:40

Hi Anthony. I had no idea of my great grandmothers parentage and eventually sent for her birth certificate. She was born in Hong Kong.I was disappointed when the certificate came back. It states she was born in Murray married quarters in the Garrison of Hong Kong(1876). Father, George Tilbrook. Mother, Emily Tilbrook. It doesnt give mothers maiden name and I cant find a marriage for them either here, or Ireland where I suspect George was born. He was a bandsman with 28th Regiment. It doesnt give a regiment number. I cant find George or his wife on any census. Help! Where do I look next?

As you know the regiment of George, you can seek his army service records, which will help, and the army marriages (at the Family Records Centre) may include their wedding.