Lines) an historian and a genealogical researcher. She began researching her husband's family history in 1991, as his father George had been unofficially adopted and knew nothing of his birth family.The story went that he had been found as a toddler on the doorstep of the pub that the Jackson's ran. Consequently her father-in-law had always believed he was illegitimate. Imagine his surprise when he was told that, at the time of his birth, his parents had in fact been married for almost 20yrs and that he had at least two siblings.Sadly, George's mother had died of influenza when he was just 2yrs old. With the help of a professional researcher they were able to trace his only surviving sibling, a sister, whom he met after being apart for over 75yrs! So began Denise's overwhelming passion for family history and the stories which we all have to tell.
In 1999 I began studying History at Chichester University, achieving my BA Hons in 2002. I followed this by studying with the Open University for an MA in History, which I was awarded in 2008, having taking a year out to study for a Diploma in Local History. On completion of my studies, I returned to researching my family history with a renewed vigour and honed research skills. Since then I have compiled many family histories for family and friends and have helped numerous people who have hit that infamous 'brick wall'.
Researching your family history
To undertake family history research on your behalf it is necessary for you to supply us with information about members of your family, in particular the person who will provide the starting point for the research. Ideally this should be as comprehensive as possible, although your own date of birth will do if need be. If you feel you know enough about your parents you may choose a starting point further back in time, e.g. your grandfather, in which case it is essential we have some accurate information with which to work, this information could be the birth of his son or daughter (i.e. your father or mother). If you contact us
at Lines of Descent
we will provide a free consultation
to determine the viability of the information you are able to provide, in a friendly, professional manner and with no obligation for you to proceed. Whilst one off searches can be accomplished in a relatively short period of time, please bear in mind that Family Tree Packages can take months to complete, depending on the type of package chosen and the complexity of the research.
It is necessary to point out here that positive results cannot be guaranteed. Sometimes people disappear without trace from the records, sometimes through loss of documents or even because they have deliberately changed their name. Sometimes people entered misleading or even false information on the census return. It should be remembered that divorce was very rare until recent years, so it was more often the case that people just set up home with another partner and took their name (this was true in my own family; my great-grandmother taking the name of two men but marrying neither and registering her 3 [at least] children using her maiden name, never naming their father[s]). However, I will use my skill and expertise to try to solve a mystery where possible.
I do not rely on census records to determine a family connection, requiring certifiable documentary proof where possible. However, this is not always forthcoming as the registration of births were not made a legal requirement until 1875, although civil registration had been in place since 1837. In this situation I will not state a family connection as FACT, but as probable or most likely, wherever possible using other evidence to support this. Similarly, official adoption was not introduced in England until 1927, in Scotland not until 1930 and a year later in Northern Ireland. With no formal adoption process many children were unofficially 'taken in', either by other family members, family friends or indeed total strangers. If subsequently the names of the children were changed, they can be very difficult to track down, sometimes leading to a dead end in the records. Please note, I do NOT try to track down living relatives or missing persons.
Records prior to the early 1800s is patchy at best and mostly exists in the form of unindexed microfiche/film in regional record offices.This type of research is not included in the fixed price packages and must be commissioned separately (hourly rate terms apply). I will consider undertaking research of this nature only if it concerns records held at the West Sussex Record Office, or the Portsmouth RO.
Lines of Descent
strives to adhere to the Society of Genealogists standards and good practice. To view their 'Principles of Genealogical Research' please follow the link:
Before making contact
try to collect together as much family information as you can.This can include names and dates of birth, family documents such as birth, marriage and death certificates, wills, letters or diaries. Even photographs can be sources of information if they have been named and/or dated. Family stories quite often contain a grain of truth, so make a note of them even if you think they are unlikely to be true.
The census and local history
To show how useful the census can be when researching local and family history, I have included some short local history
pieces that were produced during the course of my studies. They all discuss women, work and poverty in 19th century Landport, Portsmouth, looking mostly at the work of laundresses and stay (corset) makers, but also considering the employment of their husbands, who were mostly dockyard men. Finally, I have included a short family history case study of William and Selena Epps from Landport, Portsmouth.