When I started my family tree online, I joined Ancestry.com. At the time it was the most popular

Anne Bronte headstone, Scarborough

pay-to-view site on the WWW. I have changed a couple of times since then, but have I changed for the better or not?

To find out I have checked out the top family tree websites for UK genealogists. The best free one is in my opinion Family Search, which is run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The paid ones are harder to choose.

Churches and Churchyards, Archives and Libraries

Cockington Church Torquay England

If you have the time to travel around the country to the archives and libraries your family tree research takes you, that is still the best way to research as you can check out graveyards and churches too. If you can’t the next best thing is a subscription to a family history website. It could well save you money in the long run.

Top Family Tree Websites

When deciding which website to use, whether pay as you go or a subscription, it’s important to keep in mind that no one site is going to hold all the information you need. Each of the ‘big 3’ websites has their own unique records.

It is best to try before you buy, taking advantage of the free trial period offered by Ancestry, The Genealogist and Find My Past. Also, you can access the websites at your nearest library or record office which provides free of charge access to guests.

During your trial, contemplate about what type of records you’ll be using, for example, parish records, wills, Armed Forces etc. and assess how useful your chosen site would be. Don’t forget you can also pay on a pay-as-you-go basis if you are still unsure.


The majority of you will have seen the ads for Ancestry. While not all of us has royalty, famous people, or even long-lost family to search for, Ancestry can still help you find the history of your family. It can help you find the missing information such as birthdates and places you need.

Ancestry has many tools for researching and building your family tree. There is a version for your laptop, and an app for your phone or tablet and they are simple to use.

You can search as far back as the Crusades in the 13th century.

Like all the genealogy sites we tested it has a family tree builder, and you need to enter the necessary information you know or download a family tree as a GEDCOM file, or some other type of file. I always save a copy of my family tree as a GEDCOM file because all the best family tree sites and programs use it. If you want to use more than one website you don’t have to keep updating the tree manually.

Once you have the family tree entered you will start getting hints about people in your tree, who are in other people’s trees too. You can add the person to you tree giving you more information about people or even new people. You can build your tree from the information you receive. I would, however, check the information added to your tree, as just because someone else thinks it is correct doesn’t mean it is.

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Ancestry Subscription

You can sign up for Ancestry either monthly or 6 monthly. The prices vary depending on which plan you opt for but start at £10.99 monthly (£54.99 for six months) and go to £19.99 monthly (£99.99 for six months).

Ancestry offers different plans to choose from: The Essentials membership, Premium membership or Worldwide membership which is the one I signed up for. You can try a 14-day free trial if you supply a credit or debit card. Do not forget to cancel if you do not like to though as they will automatically start your membership on day 15.

The memberships vary quite a bit. If your family travelled at all, you will need the Worldwide membership. The Essentials is just the UK and Premium is UK and Ireland.


Find My Past is home to over 8 billion records, with new record releases announced on Friday’s. The site has partnerships with family history societies around the UK to make available their region-specific records, many of which are difficult to impossible to find on other sites. Find My Past is also the only home of the 1939 register, which is similar to a census and bridges the census gap between 1921 and 1951 and also has the most comprehensive online collection of British military records – from 1656 to 2005.

You can also put your tree on here and get hints, similar to Ancestry, to help build your tree.

It is a friendly site and simple to use and full of information.

Find My Past subscription

Starter £8.95 per month (£72 per year), Plus £12.95 per month (£120 per year) or Pro £15.95 per month (£156 per year). Again, you can have a free trial with a credit or debit card.


The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

The Genealogist is a UK-based site which offers the complete tithe maps for England and Wales, and exclusive datasets which include wills, occupational records and directories. The site records date from 1127 to 2005 and consists of a surname concentration chart and the official non-parochial birth, marriages and deaths for non-conformists. It also has an extensive archive image database. The unique search tools and UK records make this an excellent site for those in the UK and those searching for their family in the UK.

Again you can put your tree on and get hints.


The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

The Genealogist subscription

Starter £14.95 for three months, £28.95 for six months and £54.95 for 12 months.

Gold £24.95 for three months, £44.95 for six months and £78.95 for 12 months.

Diamond £119.45 for 12 months.

I have used all 3 of these sites, and at times, such as now, have subscriptions with 2 out of the 3. I search for family trees constantly, either for others or myself and want all the information at once. I have a diamond The Genealogist subscription, and a Pro subscription on Find My Past and I find different sites have different uses.

Which is best though?


That is difficult to say.

Ancestry has the most records, but not necessarily the best choice if you are looking mainly for UK records. It is better if you are looking worldwide though as it has records from over eighty countries. It is also much more expensive than the others.

Find My Past has the 1939 register which gives a lot of information and it was the first to have the 1911 census.

The Genealogist helps you build your family history as well as your tree with a lot of information other sites don’t seem to concentrate on such as Tithe and Land Owners and Peerage, Gentry and Royalty. There is also trade information and other records to help those of us who came from agricultural labourers and coal miners etc.

Find My Past and The Genealogist are much cheaper than Ancestry and around the same price.

My thoughts

I think the best thing to do is look at what you need from a website. Are you searching mainly UK or USA or worldwide? Do you want to build their life stories or just trace their names backwards? Different sites are useful for different things, but my favourite at the moment is The Genealogist as I am finding so much information about the people in my family.

You can buy The Genealogist here, Find my Past here or Ancestry here.

Happy hunting, and if you have any comments or questions about this or any other part of tracing your family tree, please do not hesitate to comment below.

I love getting your messages,






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.


Angelina · July 17, 2018 at 4:38 pm

Genealogy has always fascinated me. I love learning about my family history and where I came from. Your site is very informative. I am going to start doing my research on this topic. Have you looked into your family history much? Are there things I should know before doing it? Thank you!

    admin · July 18, 2018 at 11:44 am

    Hi Angelina, thank you for your comments. I have been looking into my family tree for 40 years! The best advice I can give you is ask questions of other family members before you begin. Ask the older ones if you can. I was fortunate enough to have grandparents and great aunts and uncles when I started, however, don’t believe everything they tell you. My family kept secrets and told stories that were only based on fact. You should still get enough information to start you on your way. I have some post tell you how to start here.


Mat A. · August 1, 2018 at 6:50 pm

Loved your article on the best genealogy website. This is really fascinating to me since my mom is of German decent and my father is Hispanic. To get my dad to tell his story of how he was raised by his grandparents shortly after they came to the US is really cool. My mom has provided me with some of her history but I’d love to find out more about my genealogy going further back.
I don’t really travel around very much but if I did going to churches and graveyards and archives would be a fantastic way of learning more. Since I am in the US looks like the Ancestry website is the best tool to use. Their prices seem really reasonable as well.
Any other tips you would have for someone who is just starting out looking into their ancestry?
Thanks in advance,
Mat A.

    admin · August 2, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    Hi Mat, 

    Ask your mom and dad for names and dates,  even if they are only guesses, of everyone they remember and get a free trial at United States Birth, Marriage, & Death Records“>Ancestry, or OneGreatFamily“>One Great Family, and start putting your tree together. If you are putting your tree online remember not to share it as genealogists make life easy for people who steal identities. 

    If you try to trace people from there by using birth, marriage and death certificates, then census returns, you should be able to get quite a few generations to start your tree.


Peter · August 14, 2018 at 11:19 am

I think that my mom did some ancestry research on her family, but now that she has passed away, we may have lost it. I would love some info on my Dad’s side of the family, but most of his side has passed away.

My wife is from Taiwan, so I wonder if any western sites have information on that? Unfortunately, I am way to lazy to do the research to study my family tree. If I was rich, I’d hire someone like you to look into it for me. Sadly, that is not going to happen.

    Sharon · August 14, 2018 at 11:19 am

    Hi Peter.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Many people hire me because it is easier, or they don’t have the time, but it can be done by yourself and your computer. There are many free sites to help you out.

    Lots of information can be found online and for your wife I would start here. Family search, where the link will take you may ask you to register, but it is free.

    As for your family, what a shame your mom’s research is missing but maybe it will turn up. In the meantime, guessing you are from the states, you could start by searching for genealogy records in your state. I cannot be more helpful as US records are usually kept by the state goverment, not the country, as here in the UK.


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