All my life my mother refused to talk about her family except to say that she had a twin sister, tall brothers and had been an orphan. On going through her documents after she died I found no birth certificate and so I sent off for it from the Public Records Office. When it arrived I thought I had been sent the wrong document because both the first names were different from the ones I knew. Checking the surname and date of birth, I realised that the certificate was in fact correct, and this became the start of a long and enduring quest for more information about her life and her family.
Using Ancestry.co.uk I discovered that my mother Margo was illegitimate, one of ten children from the same father and one of eight illegitimate siblings. She had never mentioned having sisters apart from her twin, but I found there were four girls altogether, and four boys.
She certainly wasn’t an orphan and both her parents were alive into my lifetime. So for some reason, which is still not completely clear to me, she had disconnected herself totally from the family.
Through my initial research with Ancestry.co.uk I met up with Lily, my mother’s younger sister, Lily, who is now over 90 and lives quite near me, and a cousin who is the son of my mother’s older sister, who also lives nearby. From my surviving aunt’s family I’ve also met her daughter and granddaughter.
I found during the early phase of family research that my mother’s twin had a son who died several years ago, and another who was mentioned on his death certificate. His middle name was quite unusual so I searched for him online and found him living in Minnesota. We got in touch and he provided me with a number of pictures of his mother and mine, proving that they were non-identical twins.
The internet has been an invaluable research tool for me and I could never have found out so much without using the amazing network of documents and records. I know that I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg and that there is so much more to find out.
My mother bought her first computer at the age of 81. When using the internet search field on her computer I discovered quite accidentally that she had recently been trying to find her twin – apparently without success. I felt a little sad to know that she had died some ten years earlier. If my mother had used Ancestry.co.uk perhaps she would have been able to find her twin in time to speak to her again, possibly for the first time since 1939.
Recently via Ancestry.co.uk, I tried their new service, Living Relative Search, which uses Electoral Roll data, telephone directory and Land Registry information to give you details about a person’s whereabouts. All I had to do was enter the names of the people I wanted to search for and after just a couple of searches, I found a cousin who lived somewhere near me!
I went to meet him and his wife, which really helped extend my knowledge of the family. It was lovely to meet someone who knew my aunts and whose existence I had not previously suspected. This newly-discovered cousin gave me the name of another cousin and so my search continues.
To visit Living Relative Search, go to www.LivingRelativeSearch.co.uk