Genealogy – A Case Study

Guest Blog by Jo Blake

Find Jo at @taphophileuk

A basic knowledge of genealogy is of huge benefit when wanting trace living people.  You may know the persons details but not their current whereabouts.

Below is how I  assisted an adopted person be reunited with her birth family  (NB all names and locations have been changed)

Starting Point

Ann had visited social services and had been told her birth name was Karen Hunter and that she was born on 1st May 1970 in Manchester.

Ann knew that her mother, Mary Hunter , was 18 when she gave birth to her and already had an 18 month old female child. At the time of Ann’s birth, Mary was living at home with her mother (details unknown) at 123 Oldham Road, Manchester.


My first port of call was

This website holds the full birth, marriage and death registers from 1837 when general registration began.  These registers are not fully transcribed, however all are scanned and fully readable.

The first thing to understand is that the registers are held by year, each year is split into quarters – January-March, April-June, July-September, October-December – so for every year there are 4 registers.

The registers are compiled in alphabetical order – so the register may be 400 pages long but you can skip to page 200 if that’s where you think the surname you are interested in may be.

If the records for that church that you are looking at are transcribed there is a simpler way by searching on the persons details – Karen Hunter born 1970 Manchester.  This will bring back a transcribed record with a link to the original entry as detailed above.

It is important to remember the person you are looking for will appear in the quarter when their birth is registered.  So someone born mid-late December could quite possibly appear in the registers for the January-March quarter of the following year and so on.


I located the birth registers and selected the year 1970, and the April-June register, and selected the initial H – I checked that a Karen Hunter was registered in that quarter – and she was, it showed her mothers maiden name to also be Hunter, showing that Karen had been born out of wedlock.

The fact that there was only one entry for that name at that time for the right area meant it as definitely the correct entry.

The next thing I did was to run a search on the birth records for Karens sister – I knew she was 18 months older than Karen and her mother would have the same maiden name.

A search on a female birth for 1968 in Manchester with the surname Hunter and a mothers maiden name Hunter revealed 2 matches.  One was Deborah and one was Tracy.  So it could only have been one of the two.

I then examined the electoral roll for 123 Oldham Road, Manchester for 1968, 1969 and 1970.  Mary Hunter was there for all three years living with another female named Doris Wild.  Ann knew that her mother Mary lived with her mother, so was Doris Mary’s mother?If so why did she have a different surname?

I searched the marriage indexes for a marriage between a Doris Hunter and someone named Wild – sure enough there had been in 1962, she had married a Jack Wild.

Jack wasn’t on the electoral role so a quick search on him revealed he had died in 1967.  A search to see if Doris and Jack had had any children revealed the birth of two sons Paul and John Wild.

Doris had had the surname Hunter.  I searched the marriage indexes again for a Doris marrying someone with the surname Hunter in the relevant area – searching around 1950 to allow for the marriage and birth of Mary.  There was one entry – Doris Brown had married Eric Hunter.

A search on Eric Hunter showed he had died in 1957, which explains Doris’s 2nd marriage.

I now knew that Ann’s birth mother was Mary Hunter and that her mother was originally Doris Brown. I also knew that Ann’s older sister was either Deborah or Tracy and that she had half uncles named Paul and John Wild.

I searched for any births recorded with the surname Hunter and the mothers maiden name Brown – there were 3 for the relevant area and one of those was Mary Hunter born 1952 – making her 18 in 1970 when Ann had been born, and the other two were probably her siblings.

I also searched for a marriage for Mary Hunter after 1970 – there were several marriages it could have been to the surnames Harper, White and Miller – so I noted them and kept them in mind.

Next Steps

Now I turned to researching Deborah and Tracy – presuming that they would by now be around 46 years old and probably married.  I searched the marriage records for both names and found marriages for both.

Social Media is a useful tool here – Facebook, Friends Reunited etc.  My first port of call was Facebook – I searched for Paul Wild and found two living in the relevant area – one of them was friends with a John Wild and a Mary Miller – which fitted in with the brother and half sister. Profile pictures and ‘About’ information on profiles often give valuable clues, even if the profile is locked down.

I looked at Mary Millers profile and she had a friend named Tracy – a look at Tracys profile showed her picture – she looked similar to Ann!  Searches on these individuals on other websites also revealed that they lived in the immediate area to Ann and where she was born.

This was a relatively simple search assisted by a couple of unusual surnames and the fact none of them had ever moved away from the area.  This ended well with Ann meeting her birth mother, sister, uncles, aunts and younger brothers.

The birth, marriage and death records were invaluable with the above scenario and demonstrates how useful it is to go backwards to come forwards again and identify siblings and spouses etc as a point of contact if not the person themselves.