Finding Lost Relatives in the UK
As a professional people finder I am often asked how I go about finding a long lost relative, the truth is I have a lot of tools at my disposal and this gives me the edge over anyone trying to locate a person themselves.
The good news that there are things you can do to find a long lost relative and I’ll address some of these options below. I must point out that the main issue in trying to find a long lost relative yourself is access to large amounts of quality data. As a DIY investigator you are limited to second rate trace tools such as the electoral roll which now only contains the data for 48% of UK adults, the other 52% have opted off the version of the electoral roll that you pay to access online. This is your main problem, you can access some key data sets such as birth, death and marriage records so all is not lost. There are also some other websites that can help you find a long lost relative.
So what should you do first?
As long as you have the key facts about the relative then you stand a chance of finding them, so first things first, what do you know about the relative you are trying to find? To stand a chance of tracing them you need to know…
- Their name
- Their date of birth or at least an approximate age
- A last known address or at least an area of the county to search in
- Their immediate family details such as parents names, siblings names etc.
If you have this information then there is a chance you can find them yourself, if you don’t you can still find them but you might need to instruct a professional researcher to fill in the gaps in your knowledge about the person.
If you have the key facts, I would start with an electoral roll in the correct area of the country that your person was last in. The only time I would start somewhere else is if the long lost relative is a women, if you are looking for a woman I would always begin by searching marriage records.
How much help is the electoral roll?
The electoral roll is not a guaranteed result. It’s simply a list of adults with the same name in the same area, so if you were looking for an uncle named John Smith in Leeds then an electoral roll search might not be much use as you will have many matches. If you have a smaller area such as a village then you might get lucky or if your long lost relative has a unusual name then again, you might get lucky.
Once you have a list of names you need to make contact with them to ascertain which one is your relative. I would always suggest writing a letter to each person. In the letter I would include your email address so they can contact you easily, I’d also give each letter a reference number so if you receive an email from someone but they don’t include their address you know which person you have had a response from. In the letter I wouldn’t include much information, just a quick introduction as to who you are and who you think they are, ask them to contact you regardless of whether they are the correct person or not as you need to dismiss the people who just have the same name. All you are trying to do at this stage is provoke a response, you will have plenty of time to catch up or go into details once you have regained contact with your long lost relative.
There are some websites that you can also use if your electoral roll/marriage records search does not work. You could try Facebook and see if your long lost relative is an active person on there. You can try Friends Reunited and see if you have any success there too.
Learning from Lost Relative Finder Experts
Finally, make sure you are watching programs such as Long Lost Family, Heir Hunters and Who Do You Think You Are? to pick up hints and tips.
Performing your own investigation to locate a long lost relative can be great fun but it is easy to hit a brick wall when searching, if you do then consider using a professional company to help. We do have access to so much more information than is available to you.
I hope this has given you some good advice, I love hearing back from people so please leave a comment below, feel free to add your own advice. If you have enjoyed reading this article then please feel free to share it on Twitter or Facebook by clicking one of the share buttons for me.
Hopefully we can help other people learn how to find a long lost relative