I rather think an explanation is needed about my finding people on the Ancestry site.

Some families have been heavily researched by many people...they've gone to the Records Office in person and trawled around graveyards and own old Family Bibles which have information about causes of death and suchlike.

My English family has been extensively researched by my two English cousins...then when I joined Ancestry I found dozens of other people who have also been researching the main branch of the family...and all the side branches as well.

Sometimes it's plain wrong...but 99% of the time the records and the dates tally...I'm also lucky in that the relatives from the 1500's were Yeomen farmers which means they were carefully recorded at the time...their marriages and the taxes they paid and practically everything about them is written down in offical documents.

Ancestry has Parish records as well...so some people can be found by trawling through them...though many are virtually indecipherable and would try the patience of saint!...but they are there for the searching. So I can check and double check the dates of births and burials and marriages...

But...some people seemingly managed to avoid filling in census forms...some didn't have their babies baptised...some people...especially in the late Victorian period... simply disappear, never to be seen again.

It's relatively easy for me to track my people back...other researchers may not be so lucky and might find finding anyone who belongs to them after the early 1900's almost impossible. Irish records are quite simply appalling...if your Granny was Irish and moved to England, the chances of finding out where she lived in Ireland are practically impossible because she wasn't required to even put her county on any form...just Ireland.

If your relatives were immigrants from other European countries they can sometimes be found via the passenger lists of the incoming boats...but try as I might I've been unable to find Gracies people on the passenger lists travelling from Italy to America...we know they came over, that isn't in doubt, but proving it appears to be a brick wall.

Max's Fathers history was reasonably straightforward...there were a few glitches at the beginning but all came right in the end.

American census forms are excellent...to a degree. If your people have been in the States for a long time then it's easy enough to track them back. The stumbling block is the passenger lists from foreign countries. They exist...but finding your person if you're unsure of the year they arrived can be a total nightmare.

Then sometimes you find a record...written down in black and white ...which throws you for six because it doesn't tie in with what you think you know or what you've been told. We all of us have those...it might be the old Auntie who went quite potty and was confined to a home when you were brought up to believe she'd died young...

So, my English side is relatively easy...they filled in the forms and paid their taxes and made Wills and had their babies baptised and more often than not they had proper gravestones marking their burial places...the Irish side is a nightmare though. A lack of census and a lack of decent records on-line means that tracking anyone before 1911 is a task which has you muttering under your breath and kicking the cat...there are four of us researching the Irish side...and we're totally stuck on 1841. All our combined efforts haven't moved us past that date.

If you decide to see if you can find who went before you on winters afternoon when it's chilly and you are wearing warm slippers...avail of Ancestry's free two weeks searching. You might be bored to tears after half an hour...but you might decide to pay out a small sum each month to find your people...if you are lucky then you'll come across others researching the same tree. You might find they've posted photographs or snippets of information about which you knew nothing...you'll know what your Gt Grandfather did for a living and you might find your three times Gt Grandmother birthed seventeen children.

It isn't for everyone...I've had people say it's boring...another said they'd never read any blog I wrote about finding my family...many find history a total bore and are simply disinterested in the past...if you don't belong in those camps, I'd suggest you have a go...who knows who and what you might find.