How to trace your living relatives


01 November 2013
How-to-trace-living-relatives-jpeg-300x213-41599.jpg Don't miss our special feature on tracing living relatives in December FT.
If you were - like us - hooked on the hit ITV family reunion show ‘Long Lost Family’ presented by Davina McCall

If you were - like us - hooked on the hit ITV family reunion show ‘Long Lost Family’ presented by Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell (and produced by Who Do You Think You Are? series creators Wall to Wall), you’ll love our bumper feature on how to trace living relatives published in the December issue of Family Tree.

Genealogists are well used to donning detective hats to track down elusive ancestors, but you'll find out which extra skills you’ll need to find long-lost family members with Caroline Davis’s excellent feature. She talks to expert family finders to get their tips and suggests top resources and fresh avenues for research.

Caroline has pointed out reasons why people want to find someone after a long period of time without contact vary enormously. It might be to:

● Find birth parents.

● Trace adopted children.

● Look up siblings, where the person you want is hard to find.

● Track down absent fathers or mothers (such as general AWOL or GI dads).

● Discover distant side branches of your family tree, to help you trace your own direct line further back.

● Piece together the family network after estrangement, or other difficult circumstances.

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Says Bill Groves, of Groves Research based in Billericay, Essex: ‘In my experience, adoption is the main reason for people seeking professional advice in trying to find their relatives – mainly it’s people looking for their birth mother or the other way around.

‘The mainstay of my work, however, in finding living relatives is in probate research – “heir-hunting” – where someone has died without leaving a will. I suspect this might be a main reason for tracing living relatives.’

Leanne Tonge, of Genealogy Links UK, based in Pilling, Lancashire, comments: ‘I believe the main reason people look for relatives/friends is to reconnect with them before it’s too late. In our experience, adoption is a prime example of people reconnecting and they want forgiveness, to know they did the right thing.’

Did you know?

Many genealogy/private tracing agency professionals are pleased to report an increase in business when ‘Long Lost Family’, and other similar programmes, is aired! Reason being that many people either don’t want to do the tracing themselves, don’t know where to start or have hit brickwalls in their investigations.

Coming up: don’t miss part 2 in the Christmas issue of Family Tree (on sale 29 November) when Caroline Davis goes behind the scenes of the TV show ‘Heir Hunters’ – and discovers how you could be in line for missing millions!

Find Family Tree in WH Smiths, leading supermarkets and all good newsagents, or you can download the latest issue as a digital edition right now – visit, the App Store, Google Play or Amazon Appstore. Single issues, back issues and subscriptions are available for PC, Mac, eReaders, smartphones and tablets. A free sample is also available for all devices.

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