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Tracing your Ancestors using the UK Historical Timeline (Paperback)

A Guide for Family Historians

British History Family History P&S History

By Neil Bertram, Angela Smith
Imprint: Pen & Sword Family History
Series: Tracing Your Ancestors
Pages: 168
ISBN: 9781399003322
Published: 30th June 2021

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This handy book is a timeline guide to genealogical resources - what records are available and when they started - as well as an aide-memoire to significant historical events from 1066 to 2020; helping to put family ancestors into an historical context. Each page in this book has a main column with facts of genealogical relevance in the broadest sense; a side column makes mention of events of socio-cultural significance and events relating to the monarchy, the State and the Church. Entries cover historical and genealogical aspects of all four countries of the UK plus Ireland and the Channel Islands, as well as significant historical events in the wider world that had an impact here.

The timeline is especially strong on the contribution of migration, extreme weather, disasters, epidemics, wars, non-conformist religions, taxation, transport, the armed services, famine, empire, organised labour, social writers, mapmakers, political unrest and scientific advances. Genealogically, there is information on changes to BMD certificates and the associated register entries, as well as to censuses and the facts they collected, plus much more. There are also references to earlier records that generated name indexes such as muster rolls and poll taxes, how complete they are and where they can be found. By being reasonably balanced across the centuries, the authors have resisted the temptation to include excessive detail on recent history.

This book will help the family historian to construct a timeline for their ancestors, providing a fairly full set of historical events, developments and records likely to have had an impact on them, their family and community. It is a handy reference guide to a myriad of dates but is also a useful book to study when writing a family history as it offers plenty of contextual information. It should also prompt readers to search out new resources in tracing their ancestors.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A helpful book for beginners and experts alike. When you begin your genealogy journey it's easy to focus on names and census returns, but the real understanding of our ancestors comes from asking what was happening in the world at the time they lived. What wars they would have been talking about with the neighbours, what inventions they might have witnessed, what great world events shocked and inspired them.

A must-have for anyone who wants to add more depth and emotional context to their research.

NetGalley, Katherine Hartley

This book is a historical timeline if events that happened, based on events that happened in the United Kingdom. The historian can then use these events to judge what year events found while researching family trees happened. The book covers events from the 1100’s to modern times. If you or a student need a historical timeline, handy in one place, you could not go wrong with this book on the bookshelf for many generations to come.

NetGalley, Jeffrey Wells

This is a useful guide to significant historical events in UK history and any corresponding genealogical resources Each page in this book has a main column with facts of genealogical relevance in the broadest sense; a side column makes mention of events of socio-cultural significance and events relating to the monarchy, the State and the Church.

The timeline is especially strong on the contribution of migration, extreme weather, disasters, epidemics, wars, non-conformist religions, taxation, transport, the armed services, famine, empire, organised labour, social writers, mapmakers, political unrest and scientific advances.

Mentions of long forgotten incidents (e.g. The Andover Workhouse Scandal) lead to fascinating trips down the Wikipedia rabbit hole!
It includes less well-known incidents, such as a large-scale emigration from Scotland to Ireland in 1695, following a famine in Scotland. This may remove a long existing brick wall, between my known family and the direction DNA testing points.

I am happy to recommend this useful and interesting book to all genealogists.

NetGalley, Gill Murgatroyd

About Neil Bertram

Neil has worked in publishing, primarily design and editing. He was a London Taxi (Black Cabs) driver for ten years and more recently worked as a researcher and volunteer/events coordinator for Boathouse 4 in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Neil gained BA (Hons) in History as a mature student and currently works in adult social care. Angela (Smith) has a degree in Art History and a PhD in Combined Historical Studies (Warburg Institute, London). She spent over a decade teaching for Leicester University and currently lectures for the Arts Society. 


Nearly 45 years ago Neil could be found walking to school with Angela. Now both have been reunited through their love of digging up the past.


About Angela Smith

Angela has a degree in Art History and a PhD in Combined Historical Studies (Warburg Institute, London). She spent over a decade teaching for Leicester University and currently lectures for the Arts Society. Neil (Bertram) has worked in publishing, primarily design and editing. He was a London Taxi (Black Cabs) driver for ten years and more recently worked as a researcher and volunteer/events coordinator for Boathouse 4 in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Neil gained BA (Hons) in History as a mature student and currently works in adult social care.


Nearly 45 years ago Angela could be found walking to school with Neil. Now both have been reunited through their love of digging up the past.

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