UK Family History Research - Charts


Contact: Dr John Crossley, , 07923 293339

Charts are the best way of illustrating family connections; these are supplied in PDF format, so can be easily viewed, resized and printed. The two main types are descendant charts and ancestor charts.

Descendant charts are the most common type of family tree, showing people descended from an early ancestor, perhaps down to the present day. The number of relatives, even male-line relatives, can quickly become large if all lines are traced, especially in the 19th and late 18th centuries when the average number of (surviving) children per family increased; ten or more children per couple was not uncommon. Prior to this, families were smaller, but also the chance of having life events not recorded in registers is higher, and as a result it is often not possible to trace the fate of all children, hence the generations for this period tend to contain fewer people.

Overall, the number of traceable people for single surname descendant can vary greatly, from a few dozen to many hundreds, or even thousands, and so the size of the charts is similarly variable.

Part of the descendant chart for a Gordon family
Part of the descendant chart for a Gordon family; a work in progress! This has taken many dozens of hours of research. Full version

Ancestor charts are usually made to a relatively small number of generations back from an individual, five or six perhaps; owing to the doubling of the number of people each generation, the charts can quickly become very large. The amount of work to create ancestral charts is more than for descendant charts since each marriage introduces a different family, whose locations, occupations, naming patterns, etc, all need to be understood in order to reliably trace the line back. Not all lines can be traced to the same degree; some only to early 19th century, in particular those from Ireland, whereas a few may be followed all the way back to the introduction of parish registers, which in England was 1538 for some parishes, though more usually around the late 1600s/early 1700s. For the majority of people with English descent, several hundred direct-line ancestors can be traced, albeit often with a large amount of work.
Section of a royal descent chart
Section of a royal descent chart; the chart was quick to create but the research was time-consuming. Full version

Royal descents - it is estimated that between a quarter and a half of people born in England in the mid to late 20th century are descended from the British royal family, in particular from Edward III, as he had a number of children whose descendants quickly intermarried with progressively less titled families. But the number of those people who can prove such a descent is probably less than one percent, nevertheless this is something to aim for.
For more information please contact Dr John Crossley at or text/telephone 07923 293339