Why hire a professional genealogist?


You may be enjoying researching your family tree, but are stuck. If so, you can hire me to try to overcome a particular problem.

You might want to know all about your family but lack the necessary time or knowledge of the sources, or the ability to travel. If so, you can hire me to plan, organize, implement and sort out the research for you.

Why hire you?

I have been a freelance professional genealogist since 2003. Before then I acquired 12 valuable years’ experience as a genealogist and latterly Head of Research for one of Britain’s largest and longest-established firms of genealogists.

 

During my career I have overseen research all over Great Britain and Eire, and in countries as far afield as America, Australia, Sierra Leone and India. I have experienced research amongst records ranging from birth certificates to Medieval tax lists; Tudor heralds’ pedigrees to workhouse records and ancient gravestones to DNA testing.

 

Getting to grips with life as a nineteenth century soldier whilst filming at Chester with Melanie Sykes and Albert Charlotte

 

My work bringing family history to TV and radio has also given me a very broad view of genealogy worldwide, from Lithuanian Jews to Jamaican slaves and in the course of filming I have been able to visit and undertake research in places as far apart as Albert Square (in Elstree Studios) to Spanish Town in Jamaica.

 

In writing books and articles, I am able to revisit topics and revise, correct, update and improve my knowledge of them, and I am convinced this has made me a far better genealogist than I would have been otherwise.

 

Having worked in this field for over twenty years, I have established a formidable network of research contacts all over Great Britain, Ireland and overseas, including the United States, Canada, the Antipodes and many other countries.

 

I know how best to use the resources available on the Internet, and understand the many pitfalls that beset genealogy on the web: there are still many cases where it is best to switch off the computer and open an original register. Indeed, in my reports, nothing is presented as fact unless it has been professionally checked in an original source.

 

Besides being able to organize and implement research, my work in TV and also writing articles and books has taught me how to communicate the results in a clear, logical and – I hope – interesting way.

 

Indeed, writing up and explaining the results of research is one of the most rewarding parts of my work – apart of course from making incredible discoveries and cracking long-standing mysteries.

 

As a freelance professional I have none of the substantial overheads that the large research firms incorporate into their charges. This freedom enables me to devote much more of your money to original research.

How do we start?

Please send me whatever information you know about the line or lines, or the particular problem that you would like me to research. Please write down whatever names, dates, places and occupations you know, and details of any family stories or traditions.

 

If you have the chance to ask any elderly relatives what they can remember, I would recommend doing so, as they can be goldmines of information. And if you are such an “elderly goldmine” yourself, don’t forget that younger cousins might have inherited old family papers or bibles.

 

It does not matter how much or how little you can tell me – your date of birth would be enough. If you already have a large family tree but want to work back from the earliest ancestor, it will only really be necessary for me to know about the earliest couple of generations. You can send the details by e-mail or post them to me. It is useful – and interesting – if you can send copies of any relevant documents – please do not send original documents in the post.

 

Having assessed your information I will send you a quote. This might be a specific quote for addressing a particular problem. However, if you simply want me to start researching your family tree and see how far back it will go, we can agree on a budget (which could range from £50 to £500 as appropriate) which you could pay in one go or by a series of monthly installments.

What should I ask for?

You can ask me to research anything you like. There are no rules as to what you should or should not have researched first. Many people are most interested in the male line of their family, down which their present, family surname has come. But others are interested in their mother’s family, or the female line which leads back from their mother to their mother’s mother, and so on. Maybe there is a particular surname, or a story further back in the family tree that fascinates you both. I don’t even have to focus on just one line – I can quote for researching one, two, or many of your family lines at once.

How do I pay?

Payment can be made by Western Union / MoneyGram in pounds sterling made payable to ‘Gerald Ellis Moutra’, sent to 27 Shotsfield St, Stoke-on-Trent ST2 7EU, UK, by bank transfer from anywhere in the world. Most research budgets can be sent either in one go or by smaller monthly installments, to suit all pockets.

What will I receive?

I will report back to you by letter or e-mail as you prefer, telling you exactly what research has been undertaken, what the results were, and what they mean, enclosing copies of any documents obtained in the process. The clearest and most efficient of reporting back is to do so in one goes, on completion of the project.

 

I will also send you an outline family tree, sketched by hand, to enable you to see what progress has been made and how the results fit together. At the end of research, you can commission a full printed pedigree showing all known members of the family, living and dead, as far back as we have traced. This can be illustrated with coats of arms if any have been found, or other appropriate decoration.

 

Showing ITV presenter Ben Shephard how the old General Register Office indexes worked, shortly before the closure of the Family Records Centre. Before computers arrived, I used to spend a day a week searching for births, marriages and deaths in those heavy index volumes!

 

It is essential to point out that positive results cannot be guaranteed. No researcher can promise to be able to find an ancestor or a document unless they already have the results sitting in front of them. There are many reasons why births were not registered, people changed their names or gave false or misleading information about their origins.

 

When such problems arise, they can take a long time and a reasonable amount of money to solve. However, the detective-work of cracking difficult cases is one of the most fascinating aspects of this work.

 

Equally, there are cases when records have been lost, decayed, burned or eaten by rats or (in warmer countries) termites. Genealogical expertise is required to know how to locate and use alternative record sources which have survived. So, although positive results cannot be guaranteed, I can promise a full commitment to achieving the best possible results I can.

Any other questions…

Please do feel free to contact me by post, e-mail or telephone and ask absolutely any questions you want. As I sometimes travel to undertake research personally, or for filming or giving talks, it is easiest to ring me on my mobile, +44 (0) 7408861679 – if you like, I can then take your number and ring you back on a landline.

 

And if you have no further questions, send me your details and, once we have agreed on a budget, I can start tracing your family tree for you!

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