How to research your Hunnisett ancestry

Part 1 - Family Memories and Civil Registration

So you have found this site and are wondering where your 'Hunnisett' ancestors fit into the picture. Well if you haven't done any research on your branch of the family now is the time to start. People sometimes contact me and ask where they fit in but I am rarely able to work that out unless they have done some research first. You really need to have followed your Hunnisett line back enough to identify someone who was alive at the time of the 1911 census. This of course assumes they were in the uk at the time and the method I describe below is based on uk records, specifically England and Wales. The same principles hold good for other countries but the details will differ.

The first thing to do is to gather as much information as you can from living relatives. Try to get copies of birth, marriage and death certificates as all these official documents give useful information and are the proof you need to establish your line. Relatives will give you all sorts of information which they believe to be true, and a lot of it will be, but you need to check the important facts as sometimes the memory plays tricks. It is also quite common for people to be known by a nickname or by their middle name which can be very misleading when trying to trace them.

So start with your own birth certificate and work back, verifying everything as you go. A birth certificate will normally name both parents and also give the mother's maiden name. This is the information you need to search for their marriage certificate. You will probably already have your parents marriage certificate, but if not you can get a copy from the GRO (General Register Office).

You can search the records on-line at or A free online index is also available at where the indexes are being transcribed by volunteers but this is not a complete index although most of the records up to about 1983 have already been included (as at March 2020).

Marriages are indexed by both bride and groom in books that each cover three months. You need to find both parties in the same year and quarter with the same reference details. Note down both names as they appear in the index, the year, quarter, registration office, volume and page number. With this information you can order a copy of the certificate from the GRO on-line at

The marriage certificate will give both parties full names, their ages and their father's names and occupations. This information will allow you to search the GRO indexes for their birth certificates and so it goes on with the information from each certificate leading you back to the next. Using this method it is possible to trace back to 1837, when civil registration began. Do be aware though that ages given on marriage certificates are not always reliable and those on death certificates even less so.

Tracking back through the twentieth century can sometimes be quite difficult because of the lack of other records such as census records to give supporting evidence. However, most people will be able to trace back to ancestors who were alive at the 1911 census and then a whole new world of information opens up.