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Society of Genealogists – Press Release

Date: 00.01, Monday 7th March, 2022
For immediate release

Society of Genealogists’ innovative TreeSearch™ to make over 10,000 pedigrees available

Launched at Rootstech 2022, the Society of Genealogists’ (SoG) innovative TreeSearch™ application makes a selection of twenty pedigrees available for free. This is part of the wider ambitious project to digitise the entire collection of over 10,000 physical family trees and pedigrees held by the Society. They are known by members as Pedigree Rolls, because they are very large and difficult to store, and so have been rolled up both to protect them and to make storage easy. Genealogists, social historians and those researching their family trees, can now search our family trees via the Society’s website.

The documents are often incredibly ornate, combining family tree information with stunningly beautiful artwork. The addition of hand-written notes on many of them simply adds to their authenticity, appeal and historical significance. The digital images of a selection of some our hand-crafted historical family trees have been scanned, indexed and then uploaded to TreeSearch™, our new family tree explorer application. Currently the application includes a small selection of historical family trees, out of a collection of around 20,000 images of pedigrees, covering well over one million people. The rest of this collection will be added in stages over the next six to twelve months and will be available to SoG members.

TreeSearch™ is the Society of Genealogists’ innovative way of bringing more of our collections to members, no matter where they live. It is also a useful tool for teachers, a range of historians and family historians. The application features enhanced navigation and search facilities and has been developed in tandem with Zoompast. The Society was delighted to receive a grant from the Art Fund towards the project and is indebted to the many volunteers who have created the tree images, indexed the trees and linked those index entries with the images. Their work continues because we have thousands of trees in the Society's collections.

The SoG’s Pedigree Rolls tell the stories of many extraordinary lives of a diverse range of ordinary people from different backgrounds. Conserving and making these family trees available to many people is challenging due to their size, age and fragility. Making these trees available online, enables the Society to better preserve the originals, many of which are aged and fragile, from exposure and handling.

Included amongst the twenty sample trees newly made available are:

  • A pink silk-backed pedigree within a box lined with marbled paper created by the genealogist of the Order of the Bath in 1798 for Alexander Aubert of Highbury House in the County of Middlesex, a Lt Col of the Loyal Islington Volunteers, presumably shortly after Aubert received his knighthood.

  • A pedigree of the family of Ade, a Sussex family spanning 11 generations, starting with William Ade, born around 1470. It was drawn up in 1839 by a 14 year-old boy from the original compiled by Charles, his father. As Charles was born in 1790, this pedigree is probably based on a great deal of firsthand knowledge. It is beautifully written and illustrated and includes detailed drawings of two houses and a church relevant to the family’s history. Notes on the edge of the tree describe land holdings and other details about some of the families who married into the family.

  • A large tree of Burnett of Leys with collateral branches, spans some 20 generations from 1485-1893. Illustrated in the form of a large oak tree blowing in the wind and bearing the weight of 763 named individuals, it depicts the descent from one Alexander de Burnand, who was alive at the time of King Robert the Bruce in 1324. A significant branch of the family assumed the name Ramsey in the latter half of the 18th century, after the succession of a son of the 6th Baronet Burnett of Leys to his grandfather’s estate.
Notes to editors:
  • The Society of Genealogists is the largest and oldest genealogical society in the UK, providing an extensive education and learning programme for family historians. Our extensive and esteemed genealogical library is in store while we develop innovative new premises, however, many of our digital collections and items are available to search online at
  • For press enquiries, interviews and expert commentary contact SoG’s Genealogist, Else Churchill 07841 776226 or SoG’s Chief Executive, Dr Wanda Wyporska, 07837 909418.
  • Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. It provides millions of pounds every year to help museums to acquire and share works of art across the UK, further the professional development of their curators, and inspire more people to visit and enjoy their public programmes. In response to Covid-19 Art Fund made £3.6 million in urgent funding available to support museums through reopening and beyond, including Respond and Reimagine grants to help meet immediate need and reimagine future ways of working. A further £2 million has been made available in 2021 for Reimagine projects. Art Fund is independently funded, supported by the 130,000 members who buy the National Art Pass, who enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places, 50% off major exhibitions, and receive Art Quarterly magazine. Art Fund also supports museums through its annual prize, Art Fund Museum of the Year. The winner of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2021 is Firstsite in Colchester.

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