Research Tools

On this page I will try to explain about the different genealogy charts I use and tell you more about the types of records I have encountered and used during my research.


Charts can be displayed in many ways but the program I use to create them uses the horizonal layout.

Ancestor Chart – Sometimes called a Pedigree Chart. This chart goes backwards in time from an individual and shows their ancestors. It is the simplest to understand because it simply shows our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents etc., no uncles, aunts or cousins are shown. It can be displayed vertically or horizonally, as a decorative fan or tree ( like mine on the home page), and usually has the named person at the bottom (of a fan or vertical chart), or left (on a horizontal chart), and their forebears fanning out from them. In my example chart below, you can see me on the left with my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents fanning out to the right.

Descendant Chart – This chart is more often displayed vertically with a couple at the top and expanding down showing their children, then their children and so on. As explained, my program only uses the horizontal layout, so in the example below you can see John Giblin and Sarah Ann McMorran on the left with their known descendants to the right of them – with all of their children and spouses it gets to be a complicated looking chart! I have highlighted with a red dot the line that I am descended through but all those other people are my aunts, uncles, grandparents, great aunts and great uncles and so on.

I hope the above explanations will help you to understand the charts you see or download on the website but if you need any further explanation, please don’t hesitate to ask. The only daft question is the one you don’t ask as far as I’m concerned.


Parish Registers – Before the year 1837, records of baptisms, marriages and burials were kept by the minister of the parish where the events took place. The detail in them varies widely from parish to parish as there was no set standard for record keeping. For example, for a baptism the bare minimum would be; John, son of John Smith and the date of the baptism. Some ministers took great care with their record keeping and for those you’ll probably get both parents names and the father’s occupation. Similarly with marriage records, the good ones will give you not only the bride and groom’s names and ages but also their father’s names and occupations. Some of them are neatly written and easy to read, some not so. It’s a mixed bag and you never know what you will find.

Parish Baptism Register – Leeds St Peter 1789
Parish Marriage Register – St Cuthbert’s Edinburgh 1804