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HOW DO I BEGIN MY RESEARCH?

Q I found FHM at my local newsagent two days ago. Thank Heavens! I’ve been looking for a mag. like it for the past twenty years. I have been trying to explore my family history since 1975. I visited Chichester Library during that year, and in a book called Chichester something or other, was a notation regarding ‘Cristian De La Plegestouw’ (I’m not sure of the spelling) landing in Chichester from France in 1164. The idea that he could be a distant ancestor helped to get me interested. Later in time, it is believed that my grandfather had a sister, Hephzibah, who owned and operated Walking Stick Farm near Godalming. Nothing else is known about her. My aunt Hilda was ‘excommunicated’ from the family for some reason or other, and my uncle, Frederick Ernest, forbade me from finding out anything about her (although I do have a photo of her, from about the 1920s). My enquiries at Chichester Library in 1975 resulted in me also finding another ‘relative’ who was fined 5 bob by the court for failing to register a block of land somewhere about the 18th or 17th century. I also heard that all the family crests were on the city wall around the 13th century. There are several towns or hamlets in the UK named Plaistow and I have an old wallet with ‘Plaiso’s Ship Inn’ embossed on it. Goodness knows where it came from. My grandfather, Ernest PLAISTOWE, was born about 1863 and married Louise Jane CHIVERS, born about 1861. They had the following children: Frederick Ernest, born about 1893; Josephine B, born about 1901; William George, born 1902, and Hilda, born about 1904. William George, my father, married Alexandra McLEOD in 1937. Therefore, all I have is snippets of information. And, quite honestly, I have not a clue on where to start. Can you help? I would like to add that I am a computer dummy, but hope to get some help along the way

Noel McLeod Plaistowe


A Snippets, legends, extracts and ephemera from distant centuries and even from the Conquest are all very well, and frequently are behind the reasons why we may have initially become interested in our family history. But interesting as they may be, they are not the substance of proper research which must, as is so very often stated, progress from the known to the unknown. Therefore you must begin with what you do already know for certain, and that appears to be limited to information about your parents and grandparents. The Indexes to Marriage in England and Wales show that Ernest Frederick PLAISTOWE married Elizabeth Jane CHIVERS in 1887 in Marylebone Registration District – so not Louise Jane. Between them, the 1891 census return for 79 Northcote Road, Battersea, and the 1901 census for 32 Mallinson Road, Battersea, give information about the family. Ernest F PLAISTOWE, a joiner/compositor, was born about 1859 in Loudwater, Buckinghamshire. Elizabeth Jane was born about 1864 in Kentish Town/Hampstead. They have children: Edith May, born in Battersea in 1891; Hilda Mabel, born in Battersea in about 1892, and Frederick Ernest, born in Battersea in about 1893. There is also Ernest’s sister, Emma F, aged 25 and born in Loudwater. The births of all the children, and probably others, can be confirmed in the Indexes to Births. So this is the information you need to now continue your research in an orderly way from generation to generation, back through time. The pages of Family History Monthly will give you lots of information on how to do this and there are many books and websites (sorry, yes, websites) that will give you masses of help and information. And who knows, perhaps one day you will connect with Cristian De La Plegestouw in 1164.

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