A Report of Genes Reunited competition winner ‘Spend a day with a Genealogist’, at SoG

On Tuesday 21 October 2014 I met Mr Bruce, winner of Genes Reunited's  'win a day with a genealogist' competition, who had come down especially from Co. Durham, despite Hurricane Gonzalo. We started in a coffee shop near the Society of Genealogists. He had brought with him notes about his recent ancestry he had been given by his relatives and from a family bible. I showed him how to draw these up as proper drop-line family trees, and in doing so we agreed what gaps needed filling and agreed to focus on the Bruces, who were from Co. Durham. We then went round the corner to the Society of Genealogists, who had very kindly agreed to allow Mr Bruce in free of charge as my guest.

We started downstairs in the computer room, where I showed him  how Genes Reunited works, and we started tracing his Bruce line back using the General Registration indexes and censuses on the site. I then showed him the Society's collections, especially the Durham and Northumberland shelves where we explored the earlier Bruces using the transcribes parish registers there. As he still lived near where his ancestors came from he knew all the places we came across, and indeed his knowledge of local geography saved me having to us a map to find out where all the places of birth mentioned in the censuses were.

I showed him pedigrees of Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, whose family were probably his ancestors and he's going to work on trying to fill the remaining gap between the two family trees. We also explored some of his female-line ancestors, including his Fogo ancestors in Northumberland.
At the end of the day, just before he went off to catch his train back to Co. Durham, we found that most of the Fogos we'd been looking at appear in a member's tree on Genes Reunited, meaning he will soon be reunited with a long-lost cousin who has traced this line already. He said 'the day has really opened my eyes to all the resources available for family trees. I never knew there were so many!'

-Anthony Adolph