I thought I would tell you a little about my own family tree. I have been tracing my family tree since the 1980’s. I was always curious from where my family name SIMCOATES came. It is a very unusual name and a very curious one. I have come across many spellings of my name in my own family tree. It is spelt SIMCOATS, SIMCOTES, SIMCOAT, SIMCOTE, SYMCOATES, SYMCOTES, SYMCOTE, SYMCOAT, and more different variations.


The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

The good old days of genealogy?

In the 1980’s when I began, there was no internet. I went to libraries, archives and LDS Family History Centres. As a 16-year-old, I had to take a day off work to go researching. Our local library held a lot of information, however, and opened late on Thursday evenings. I remember leaving my job and dashing to the library and spending hours in there.

All information had to be written down or photocopies, for a small cost. I used to write everything out, in pencil as pens weren’t allowed, to take home and type up. Family trees were drawn by hand and written in pencil, to be gone over in ink once I was sure there were no mistakes. It was very labourious. Also, I seemed to spend all my time with people 40 years and more, older than me. It wasn’t a young person hobby.

Learning to drive

Once I learnt to drive it was even better as I could go to libraries and archives in different areas. I carried on once I was married, and the birth of my daughter. She remembers many hours in libraries and cemeteries. Gravestones are an excellent source of information as they usually mention the wife’s name, and sometimes even the name of children. They also, usually give dates of birth and death. I sometimes think my daughter had a strange upbringing, but she enjoyed it, and both my daughter and son in law enjoy doing their family tree.

120x600: I’m, your NanThe involvement of computers

Computers have made finding my own family tree even better, although I sometimes prefer the old ways. The information on the internet is astounding, and family tree programs are a great help. I started my family tree with Family Tree Maker and signed up to Ancestry. The information I received was brilliant, but finding information from other peoples trees always has to be double checked. The Birth Marriage and Death (BMD) information online is beneficial, and census information sorted a lot of mistakes I had made in the early years.

My own family tree

In my own family tree, I have:

  • Individual Records:4475
  • Family Records: 1293
  • Source Records: 234
  • Media Records: 3632
  • Place Records: 1935

I am tracing my father’s name, SIMCOATES, my mother’s name BAILEY, my step-father’s name BECKETT, my step-mother’s name TOWNEND, my step-grandmother’s name SIMPSON, my step uncle’s name THORPE, my husband’s name BANNISTER and my ex-husband’s name LAMB.

Some of these names have caused more problems than others, but lucky I am not tracing Smith or Jones, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t got them in my tree. The trouble with the very prevalent surnames is how easy it is to confuse them without buying the certificates to prove relationships. If your ancestors were called Smith and used a family name of John, you need a professional genealogist to sort it out! Different genealogists charge different amounts and charge different ways. I charge £20 per hour but do have offers on at times.

Until 1st July 2018 my offers are:

  • One line to 1800 £50 HomeDNA.com
  • Two lines to 1800 £80
  • Building your family tree £15 per hour for first 10 hours
  • Brick walls £15 for first 10 hours

www.onegreatfamily.comWhen you are paying by the hour, you tell me how much you want to spend per week. There are no guarantees on how much information can get for you, but if I cannot get to you g-grandparents, I will return your fee. I can buy you certificates but will charge you for these, and I can print it out in a folder with all information I collected along the way, again for an extra cost.

I do not do adoptions.

My own family tree is my life work, and I am very proud of it. I have spent many enjoyable hours on it, and still am. I have travelled all over the country and have been to lots of archives and library, but what I have enjoyed most is seeing where my family lived, and died, and the photo’s I have taken of their houses, villages, churches and gravestones.  I love finding their professions, from agricultural labourer to doctor or lawyer. I enjoy seeing their university records, school records or apprentice records. It all builds a picture of their life. What a fantastic hobby!

If you require further information, need a question answering or just want to comment, please do so here, and I will reply shortly.

Thank you,




I am a genealogist with over 30 years experience. When I started my family tree I had to drive all over the country and site for hours in libraries and archives. Today it is much simpler as usually you can find the information on the web.


Robert M Doyle · May 29, 2018 at 5:56 pm

Enjoyed reading this post. I recently had my DNA sent into AncestryDNA“>Ancestry, so I am excited to see what I found as I learn more about my family tree. My mom has been researching for quite a while looking at several names on the family tree branch. But getting my DNA tested will help a lot because I will find out info regarding the paternal side of the family.

    Sharon Bannister · May 30, 2018 at 10:54 am

    Hi Robert,
    Thanks for your comment.
    Your DNA will tell you about both paternal side and maternal side unless you have just done a Y chromosome test. I am having to send mine to my brother to do as I am having 3 tests done and one is Y chromosome, which females don’t have.
    I hope you get good results from yours.

Kathleen · May 29, 2018 at 6:42 pm

Thank you for this article. I am intrigued by your passion. I would love to find out more about my family tree and see the benefits that you have described as a great opportunity. I started thinking about this recently as the press has suggested that Meghan Markle is 8x removed but related to George Washington!! A very cool fact I am certain is surprising for most people to discover their ancestry! So thank you for helping me figure out how to proceed. All the best!!

    Sharon Bannister · May 30, 2018 at 10:47 am

    Hi Kathleen,
    Thanks for your comment.
    I am still addicted to my hobby after 30+ years, but love finding those facts out.
    I hope you enjoy yours.
    Remember you can always get in touch if you need any help.

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