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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > September 2019 > Putting flesh on the bones

Putting flesh on the bones

Researcher Nick Thorne explains how to discover more about your forebears’ lives by using the collections on

Once you have done the initial research on your ancestors you, like most of us, may want to try and flesh out your ancestors’ stories, by digging deeper into more specific records that can help add colour to a person’s life.

TheGenealogist has some unique records to help you do just this.

Explore 11 million Victorian tithe records

One of the major questions that we would all like answered is: where did an ancestor live and what was their village, town or city like?

In Victorian times the government set out to deal with a thorny problem of an outdated system of tithe payments (made to the Church of England and a number of lay landowners), and so created some records, which are now very useful for us. A survey of the land that was still subject to the charge resulted in the creation of detailed apportionment books and accompanying tithe maps.

TheGenealogist’s tithe records, sourced from The National Archives (TNA), cover the majority of England and Wales and are the only online national collection for researchers to use. It is possible to see the plots owned, or occupied, by ancestors at the time of the survey in the 19th century. The maps reveal the boundaries of fields, woods, roads, rivers and the location and shape of buildings. The detail recorded within the maps and apportionment records can show you how much land ancestors owned or occupied, where exactly in the parish it was, what the land was used for and how much tithe rent there was to pay. You can also get an idea of ancestors’ working lives by the usage that they made of the plots they occupied.

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About Family Tree

It’s time to dig for victory, see what clues your delving can unearth! Turn the clock back to 1939 with our special issue and discover your family’s story. This month we’re commemorating the 80th anniversary of the start of World War 2, and are researching and celebrating our ancestors’ lives from the time. To help you trace your family tree we’ve got: a packed guide to the essential family history records all you need to know about researching family in Second World War and first half of the 20th century and a bumper crop of tips to help you create your own family history home archive – filled with carefully stored photos, stories, notes and treasures. Beginner or expert, there’s plenty to discover and do as your learn more about your family’s story. Enjoy!