Introduction by Geoff Riley

+10 votes

Hello Genetic.Family!

I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and a very brief précis of my family research so far.

I was born at a very early age… in the Lancashire cotton mill town of Bolton in the North West of England. It was the early 60s and families still tended to live in fairly small geographical areas, so I was in walking distance of both of my grandparents homes. However, I have very little memory of either grandfather as they both died by the time I was three years old: my maternal grandfather died following a mill accident when he got hit by a fork lift truck, although that just hastened his death as the postmortem showed that he had been suffering with myelomatosis (or Kahler disease) and that is what actually caused his death.

It wasn't until the week before I went to college that I lost another grandparent. My paternal grandmother died of a stomach cancer after a long period of illness and it prompted me to want to record what I could find out about my family history.  Without any real method or plan I started writing down what I could find on index cards. Chatting with aunts and uncles on my paternal side quickly resulted in a 'tree' that confusingly appeared to contain a loop—I found out about kissing cousins the hard way!  My maternal side, on the other hand, was far more difficult as none of the family either wished to speak about or didn't know about any of my great-grandparents.

My maternal g-grandparents have been a stumbling block ever since.

The advent of the internet and creation of online databases helped greatly and taught me the value of sourcing facts, something that had never occurred to me previously… so I had a 'tree' that I had created, but was largely unsourced. After a lot of abortive attempts I started to place my tree on Ancestry in the hopes that other people might be looking for the same information.  I admit it, I 'found' loads of misinformation that I randomly added in a misguided thought that it would be correct… Ancestry's big sales pitch lulling me into a false sense of security! It took longer to cull the inadvertent garbage than I had spent adding in my own data, I think I got it all sorted but I am still following up and trying to get firmer facts for the majority of the tree.  

I recently started to get some certificates from the General Records Office to confirm where I can… although it is an expensive option for me as I am unwaged.

I have DNA tested with 23andMe and Ancestry DNA in order to aid my research, but testing of Brits is still quite low and so I haven't had any real breakthroughs as yet.  I got my parents tests with Ancestry DNA more recently and that has helped to at least divide my matches into maternal and paternal sides.

I'm sure I've waffled on long enough for an introduction, I couldn't spot any recent examples of other peoples introductions so I wasn't quite sure how much was expected: I'm open to questions, but if I've already said too much then I apologise.

Kind regards,

in The Tree House by Geoff Riley G2G6 Mach 1 (10.1k points)
Interesting introduction that you wrote that makes be think that with your tree, the Connection finder could very well show how you are connected to others at Wikitree. There are a few thousand Riley's at Wikitree and a few hundren Howarth's. To find them, just click on Find at the top right of the page and take the menu down to Surnames. You probably would need to post some of your tree in order to use the Connection finder effectively.

Both my father's line and my mother's line trace back to England, to East Anglia.

5 Answers

+7 votes
Best answer
Hello Geoff, is a good free source of information. So is A lot of folks at Wikitree like to answer questions or make constructive suggestions or comments. shows your parents marriage registration was in 1961 at Bolton, Lancashire, England. They have your mother's maiden name as Howarth.

Best wishes

by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (2.2m points)
selected by Hilary Gadsby
Hi Frank,

Thank you for your reply.

Yes, that is my parents, I have a copy of the marriage certificate and it confirms my maternal grandfathers name. With that detail I obtained the marriage certificate of my maternal grandparents from 1929, and that was revealing in that the witnesses were both relatives of the bride.  The groom, James (Francis) Howarth, was a Roman Catholic but the bride, Nellie Hughes, was a protestant: the marriage took place in the RC Parish Church, but it caused a division in his family such that his father, Thomas Howarth, had little interaction with the family from that point onward.

Just before Christmas (2018) I located Thomas Howarths birth certificate which listed his mother as Ann Jane Howarth (nee Quinn). Attempts to locate certificates for that marriage or for those individuals have so far fallen on stony ground. I know that they were living at 24 Springfield, Great Bolton when James was born in 1901, at the same address for the 1911 census, and still there when James wed Nellie in 1929. Going back, the 1901 census shows Thomas and Ann living at 24 Springfield, but for the 1891 census the family appear to be living at 5 Gleave St, Little Bolton.

According to the civil registration marriage index there was a marriage in Q2 of 1884 between Thomas Howarth and Ann Jane Quinn but the GRO was unable to locate any such certificate for the given office (Bolton), volume (8c) and page (510). This has lead me to consider that there is either an error in the index or that I have misidentified the event and that that marriage included one of the other two people listed for the register page. I'm a bit stumped as to what to try next.

For the time being I'm going to enter my part of the global tree that I am confident about and continue to seek answers for the parts that I am not so confident about.

Kind regards,
+9 votes
Welcome, Geoff!  You sound like the perfect victim . ..  er, person for Wikitree.  Most of the actives here love a good mystery and/or untangling balls of yarns (tales told by relatives).  We love well-sourced profiles.  Just post here if you need some help--technical or genealogical.  I think you'll find us a friendly and, perhaps, quirky bunch of people passionate about the past.
by Kathy Rabenstein G2G6 Pilot (248k points)
+9 votes
Hello, Geoff, and welcome to WikiTree! Your introduction was so well-written that it gives a great indication of the interesting profiles you will create for your ancestors. Best wishes with all your research and untangling your roots!
by Nelda Spires G2G6 Pilot (274k points)
+9 votes

Hello Geoff and Welcome!

I think many of us can relate to that "false security" of Ancestry (especially those trees!).

It sounds like you might benefit greatly by joining our England Project! We are a fun and friendly group, and with our "Orphan Trail" we can not only show you the WikiTree "ropes", but we can also show you where to find many free sources that are unique to England.

If you are interested, all you have to do is answer this post:

We would love to have you join us!

Fran :)

by Frances Weidman G2G6 Mach 2 (29.5k points)
I second this suggestion!
+6 votes

My 2 x great-grandparents were both from Lancashire & emigrated to Australia in 1863.

Over the years I have found several useful FREE sites for Lancashire:


Lancashire Online Parish Clerk  the "Search" option (left hand side at the bottom) is the best starting point


Manchester City Council Burial Records

The Briercliffe Society

FamilySearch has:

England, Manchester, Parish Registers 1538-1910 (Scroll down to bottom & click on the link under "View images in this Collection" then click on "Lancashire" on the next page. Bolton area is included).

LancashireBMD has the following marriage entry in 1884:

Thomas Howarth & Ann J. Quinn at Bolton Register Office or Registrar Attended ; Ref. RO/81/36. - this page provides details on how to order certificates from the local register office.

Welcome to WikiTree !

by Vivian Egan G2G6 Mach 7 (70.9k points)
Hi Vivian,

Thank you so very much for that information: I have hunted around the FreeBMD site on a number of occasions, but there is so much on there that I tend to get bewildered by it all. Knowing how to use the available tools is as important as being able to find them.

I'll have to drop a letter to the Bolton registry office to see what they can provide for me... wow, I wish I'd sorted myself out with an account on here ages ago! :)

I cannot express just how grateful I am for your help here, I really appreciate the links that you've given me: they're going to prove to be invaluable.

Kind regards,

A quick follow up, the link that you gave for 'England, Manchester, Parish Registers 1538-1910' leads to a ''404 Page not found'' error.


I will send you a PM with details.

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