Family Search is a collaborative family history project that I have been co-faciliating with my cousin Hamish Maclaren and help from our not so distant cousin Kathryn Neville and long list of others. The site uses The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding engine developed by Darrin Lythgoe that is behind a number of sites Hamish and I use as part of our research (and in Hamish’s case even contributed to: see more on this here).

It’s worth noting that we’ve used the term ‘family history’ because although some of the information we’ve published on individuals may conform to the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) (depending on where and how it was sourced), we make no claims about the genealogy in the tree part of the site being authoritative.

But we hope the information provides a useful starting place for further research about your ancestors. The idea being to make this extensive compilation of family trees publicly available, so you can find out more about your ancestors or those you are researching without having to take out the likes of an subscription. Hopefully, this approach will encourage others to come and join this collaboration and, so, if you’d like to collaborate please get in touch via the comments below.

The site now has a fully searchable database of over 160,000 ancestors that continues to grow, kindly compiled by Hamish from numerous trees from family and friends. Check out the guide below on How to use the TNG family tree database on below: user guide

The tree database is free for anyone to access and has a lot of very useful features for viewing the trees and different lines.

We’ve set-up a temporary home page at the link below, which has a basic search feature in the top right and number of useful links at the bottom of the page:

There’s also an advanced search page with more fields to help refine your search and you can also use the Surname index page.

In addition to the search options mentioned above the TNG database offers many different ways of viewing individuals and families it contains. Here are some suggestions to help you get the most out of it:

  1. For viewing Ancestors “Standard” is okay for 4 generations, “Vertical” is better for 8 or 10 generations.
  2. For viewing Descendants “Standard” is okay for 4 generations. “Text” is good for many generations.
  3. You can change the number of generations in the number box on the left of the dark blue band.
  4. Anyone living only shows as “Private”.
  5. There are many view options for Descendants and Ancestors and a couple of Family view options. I recommend trying them out to see which you prefer. 
  6.  In Notes many individuals have information, stories, obituaries, sources, etc. In the Ancestors, Descendants and Family views you can click on any individual to see if there are any of those.
  7. To see everything (Notes, facts, sources, etc.) of several generations go to “Ancestors” then “Ahnentafel” there click on the blue “More detail” on the right, underneath the dark blue band. You can see an example here.

We also suggest you play around with the different ways of viewing the information to see what works best for you. For example, check out the Register option in Descendants, and then click on the blue More detail option on the right, underneath the dark blue band. If individuals contain a lot of notes then this view can be a bit overwhelming, but it’s helpful if it’s the detail you are looking for.

Viewing option examples

Individual: Ralph de Bridtwisell, of Bridtwisell in Hapton  Abt 1160 –

Descendants: 12 generations of Ralph’s desendents

Example of a person where a number of families branch off, which also includes many links to sources of information about Birtwistle, their, origins etc.

Branches: Richard Birtwistle, of Huncoat Hall1485 – 1543*

Example of a person where a number of families branch off, and also one with lots of information in Notes, Sources, etc.



Family: Richard Birtwistle, of Huncoat Hall / Margaret Lowde, of Gisburn & Gargrave (F00273) m. 1507

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