Hi, I'm Jane. I'm a middle-aged full-time working Mum living in Tunbridge Wells in England. My husband and son are both mad rugby fans, so I've become a rugby fan too. Sorry, Daniel, but it's obviously England that I support, not Ireland!
What got you into genealogy?
My Dad did some family history research when I was a teenager, and I used to join him on trips to London to visit the record offices. Back then (in the 1980s) everything was either in hard-copy ledgers or on microfilm. Having records online these days makes family history so much easier. I also knew that my Grandad didn't want my Dad to go digging into family history, so that always gave an edge of excitement to our trips. What were the secrets he wanted to keep hidden?
What interesting things have you discovered about your ancestors?
Gosh, there are so many stories I've discovered over the years! One of my best discoveries has to be one of my my 5x great-grandmothers, who was found guilty of theft in 1806 and was shipped to Australia as a convict. I've also been able to establish the facts about a story handed down from my Grandad regarding an ancestor who apparently made thousands of coffins during his lifetime. What I don't know is whether he actually kept one under his bed for when he died.
Is there any source that you've used in your research that usually might be overlooked?
My knowledge relates mainly to English records. Some counties in England have a website linked to the Online Parish Clerks (OPC) group. These are formed mainly of volunteers who each take on a parish within a county and signpost all the available records. I've found these enormously helpful, and they often point to smaller, local websites that you would otherwise never find. There's more information here.
What are you currently focusing on in your research?
I'm currently preparing to launch a website. Having discovered so much information about my ancestors over the last ten years I really want to start sharing some stories. Names and dates are all very well, but stories bring the facts to life. I was lucky enough to win a competition in Family Tree Magazine UK last year, which has given me some technical support from a web developer. I'm hoping to "go live" later in March or early April. (Note - To be the very first to know when her website goes live, make sure to follow Jane on Twitter as @AllThoseBefore, click on the Twitter icon on the top of the interview to follow her!)
What difficulties have you come across in your research?
I would say that the biggest difficulty I've faced is having lots of ancestors in the same area with the same surname. You'd think that surnames like Trigg, Tizard, Scoble, or Bowdler would be relatively uncommon, but my experience is that in the local areas where these ancestors lived there were lots of inter-related families.
What advice would you give to people starting out in genealogy?
Don't rush! Take your time, and make sure you have proper sources for each piece of information. I built quite a big tree when I first went online in 2010, then spent nearly two years undoing half of it. I added things too quickly without checking sources, and also relied on other people's online trees. The other piece of advice I'd give is to talk to all your family members - you never know what your relatives know!
A huge thank you to Jane for taking part in my interview. Hope you all enjoyed reading it. The next interview will be released next Tuesday!