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Searching Ancestry

Discussion in 'Ancestry problems' started by PeterM, Oct 27, 2019.

  1. PeterM

    PeterM LostCousins Member

    I am having problems when searching AncestryUK. When I initially search I leave Dates and Places with a wide search. I obviously get huge numbers of results. Looking at these I find some that are very close to what I am looking for but not the one I want. I then restrict the years to within ten years OR the place to the county and those next to it. It then returns NO MATCHES and yet I have been looking at some which still fall within the parameters. Is anyone else having the same problem? I am using Microsoft Edge on Windows 10.
  2. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    Is this happening in any particular data collection or more generally? I find the location field doesn’t work properly in some collections, and the search returns no results. If I enter the place as a keyword and leave the location field blank, then I get the results I’m expecting.
  3. PeterM

    PeterM LostCousins Member

    It happens with all searches. I haven't tried putting the place as a keyword. I will put the place in the place field as say 'Hampton, Middlesex' and the first few results will be at that place but there can be many more over several pages that are out of order.
  4. jorghes

    jorghes LostCousins Member

    Have you tried searching a specific record set?

    I've also found that Ancestry can be a pain when you try and search for a specific place.

    I would also probably search with "Middlesex, England" as opposed to a specific place within Middlesex.
  5. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    I don't experience the problem described, but then I almost always search one record set at a time. As Pauline says, there are bound to be anomalies when you search across multiple record sets, even - I suspect - if they are in the same collection.

    And always make sure that you choose a place name from the dropdown - as I pointed out in the newsletter many years ago, typing the same place name does not work, even though it appears visually identical.
    • Good tip Good tip x 1
  6. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    I find searches at Ancestry can be somewhat flaky however you are searching. I almost always search within one collection and I always have the 'Match all terms exactly' box at the top ticked. What I have found is that in some record sets the location field simply doesn't work - so, for example, I select the collection "Wiltshire, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812" and search on the surname 'Smart' with the birthplace 'Grittleton' selected from the dropdown, I get no matches. If I leave the location field blank and put Grittleton in as a keyword, then up come the matches I know are there.

    Another thing I have found, and I don't know if it happens in all browsers, is that if I select 'Grittleton, Wiltshire, England' from the dropdown, when I go back to edit the search it has become 'grittleton, wiltshire, england, united kingdom'. And in record collections where the location field works, then I find I sometimes have to re-enter the place properly from the dropdown to get the search to work.

    And, again in collections where the location field works, even with the 'exact matches' box ticked, the search sometimes returns numerous matches which don't meet the search criteria, although mostly the relevant matches are shown first.

    I could go on .....
  7. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    The Grittleton error occurs because the name of the village has a space appended to it in the records, but not in the gazzeteer. In other words it's a typing error, though one with serious consequences. It wouldn't surprise me if other parishes in other parts of the country are also affected by the same issue.

    I suggest you report it to Ancestry - all of the Grittleton records I checked have the same symptom, so they might be able to fix the problem by correcting one entry in a table.
  8. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    That was just an example - the same happens with all the Wiltshire parishes that I've tried, though oddly enough, if I search on Trowbridge without specifying a name, I get one random result. Much the same happens with the Norfolk PR collection, and Derbyshire, though with most Somerset parishes searching with a parish in the location field seems OK.

    I have reported it to Ancestry but as happens all too often, I get told to I need to clear cookies etc and try a different browser (which I always do as a matter of course before contacting support) and nothing gets changed.

    Edit: I can see an extra space with Trowbridge entries, but I can't see where the extra space is with Grittleton
  9. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    You're right - the extra space doesn't prevent Somerset baptisms being found. I noticed that there's a difference in the search form for Somerset - there is an extra field called Parish as it Appears

    This might indicate that Ancestry realised there was an issue, and fixed it for this record set. Surrey isn't affected either, but the parish names all include the name of the church (unlike Wiltshire and Norfolk), so the search would need to work differently. Oxfordshire also works but it's not obvious why, as the superfluous spaces are there, and the names of the churches aren't.

    The search also fails in London, where the parishes include the name of the church (as in the case of Somerset). London was the first county to go online at Ancestry so it's possible the problem has existed for a decade without anyone realising. (I rarely search by parish, and in London there are so many parishes in a small area that I wouldn't even consider it.)
  10. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    No, it definitely used to work OK.

    I often search by parish, but mostly these days, since it so often doesn't work, I don't even bother trying the location field, and put it straight in as a keyword.
  11. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    I've never quite worked this one out. In more recent printed registers there is a space at the top to write in the name of the parish, and this is sometimes entered in the 'Parish as it appears' field. But in older registers, it is less common to get a parish name at the top of a page, and if there is any heading, it tends to be 'Baptisms' or 'Marriages' or whatever, and sometimes this heading is what you see in the 'Parish as it appears'.

    I did come across an entry once where the 'Parish as it appears' was given somewhat mystifyingly as 'Weddnigs' - the page heading there was Weddings!
  12. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Can you be more specific? I met someone quite senior on the technical side at Ancestry at RootsTech London, and have his card, but before I contact him it would be really helpful to know which record sets used to work and which ones no longer work, and which - if any - have never worked. This may pinpoint a particular 'upgrade' or development team.
  13. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    I'll try, but I've been using Ancestry for so long and so often, I can't guarantee I'll remember right, and I really can't remember how long ago it was when this started happening.

    I am pretty sure the Wiltshire and Gloucestershire PR searches also worked OK initially, and for some time. I also seem to remember that some parts of the collections (maybe Baptisms after 1813 and Burials after 1813?) still worked OK when other parts didn't.

    I do remember the Derbyshire PR search worked OK at first as I remember there was an issue with the parish of Aston upon Trent, being Aston-on-Trent in the dropdown, and that's when I first thought of the 'keyword' workaround.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2019
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
  14. PeterM

    PeterM LostCousins Member

    Thanks everyone. I have found it useful to put a search in the keyword. I also get better results be searching one data set ie. census or BMD and then going to All categories. I do always use the drop down suggestions. Thanks again.
  15. Paulec

    Paulec New Member

    A bit late replying to this thread I know, but I have a similar problem with the Wiltshire parish records. I have several family members from Bishops Cannings but if I use the drop down menu it finds no records. However if I just type in Bishops Canning (without the last S) and select exact it finds all the records and recorded as Bishops Canning.
  16. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    I hadn’t thought of trying that, but I’ve tried it now, and yes it works for me too. It’s possibly easier than adding the place in as a keyword, particularly if it’ a two word place.
  17. Bryman

    Bryman LostCousins Megastar

    Not immediately relevant to the latest discussion but not exactly off-topic . . .

    I often find that if I specify "Exact" for more than one field in a search then Ancestry fails to return any records. Reducing the number of exacts required then results in many records being returned, including those with values matching the previous exact request!
  18. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    Just to clarify this - typing in the location rather than selecting the place from the drop-down seemed to work for me generally in the Wiltshire parish register collection. However, there is a further issue with Bishops Cannings, as in the Wiltshire PR collection Ancestry have it listed as Bishops Canning, so even if the location field in the search was otherwise working properly, using the drop-down for Bishops Cannings would still not work.

    When I tried typing in Bishops Cannings, all the results were from All Cannings.

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