Frequently Asked Questions

In this FAQ section you will find most of the questions that people have asked me about the site over the years plus quite a few more. You will also find answers to them! They are spread over a few pages so, if you do not find a relevant question on one of them, please do look at another page that may be relevant. Please note that :

– I have left some technical queries and troubleshooting issues to our Support section;

– I have left some questions/points to be covered by the Genealogy lead page linked to just above;

– if you have a specific query about our Families Database, I suggest you look at the About the database page for I thought it best to leave some questions to be dealt with within the database area of the site rather than here; and

– I have left a number of questions/points to be covered by one of the pages linked to from the Footer section of each page (‘Contact us‘, ‘Privacy & Cookies‘, ‘Terms of use‘ and ‘Help us‘). Don’t forget that ‘The Site Map‘ can also be very useful as that provides links to all of the pages in the site other than the data pages in the Families Database, the posts in Stirnet Histories, and some articles.

Most of the information on these FAQ pages is provided through Answers to FAQs set out on headings such as this one’s.

This site supports research into Genealogy. It does little more than provide a (very large) database of genealogical data, pulling together other people’s research in a way that is easy to follow. As that could be almost never-ending, limits/constraints have been set to that (as reported elsewhere, including the Families Database FAQ page). Nevertheless, our database is one of the largest online on families in the United Kingdom & Ireland and (as we understand it) has obtained an excellent reputation. A large number of ‘support’ pages are provided to help site visitors understand what the site has to offer and how to make good use of it. New visitors are recommended to have a good look around them. However, we accept that many people will simply dive into the Families Database (see its drop-down menu above). They will find that, until they have bought (or otherwise obtained) Membership and have logged-in as Members, their viewing of the database will be interrupted after a few seconds. Those seconds should be long enough to enable people to move quickly from page to page and find out for themselves whether or not the database contains enough information to warrant their purchasing a subscription.


The site was originally set up to support research into more general Family & Social History (with the motto & incentive that “Knowledge of the Past helps us understand & value the Present and prepare for the Future.”). However, its founder & proprietor, Peter Barns-Graham, came to realise that he did not have the time, energy or ability to do justice to that ambition and so has pulled back from that in order to focus on supporting simple genealogical research. The site has yet to fully reflect that curtailment of ambition.

This site is owned & operated by Stirnet Limited which is owned & operated by me, Peter Barns-Graham. Stirnet Limited is a private company, incorporated in England (registered number 02384767), which I have used for my business activities since May 1992, just after I left working in the City of London. I am a student (of Life, I doubt that any university other than U3A would have me any more), an ex-Chartered Accountant (some years ago I saved money by not renewing the subscriptions), an ex-banker (on the administration side, not the marketing or gambling sides), once quite an entrepreneur (I have developed, or at least tried to develop, some interesting projects, some in the Former Soviet Union), and now am of an age to retire were it not for my interest in what I am doing with Stirnet and a wish to boost my pension. A baby boomer, I am married and have 3 grown-up sons, each one of whom is very different from the others, each one of whom makes me very proud.


As almost all of this site has been done by me, and to better reflect the change in approach to Stirnet Histories (for more on which, see that section), most of the site now uses “I” whereas in the past “We” was used. This is not symptomatic of a rush of the ego (!) but more a belated recognition of the fact that some site visitors apparently thought that Stirnet is a large organisation, with people who are just waiting to solve many of their problems for them. I really would like to help people with their research but I really do not have the time (or energy, or ability) to do more than what I am doing, which is basically to share with you, through the Families Database, the genie data that I have found.


You may find the “Corporate We” still being used in some places. I will try to iron out inconsistencies over time but there are a few places where it is in fact more appropriate for me to use “We” instead of “I”. Whilst I am now fronting Stirnet Limited more obviously than I have done before, the site is still owned by the company rather than by me directly.

As reported on History of the site, back in the 1990s I researched the history of my own family. Even then there were many web sites around that provided genealogical data but I found many of them rather frustrating, not least because so many contained obvious errors & contradictions that I had to spend time trying to sort them out. I realised that, if I was having that problem, so were other people. I knew that various experts had already solved some of the problems I had found but I could not find a site which pulled together their findings. Back then I would have loved to find a site like this, where data is set out in a clear way and where problems can be highlighted and sorted out. It would have saved me much time & effort and, indeed, money – for I would have not had to travel to different libraries and buy books & CDs. In April 2002 I started uploading the genie data I had found in the hope that my approach would interest others. I was very pleased to see that it did. Of course it did not help everyone but enough people showed support for what I was doing that I decided to develop this site ‘properly’. By 2007 it had become a near-fulltime occupation so I had to turn the site into a commercial operation. Why am I still doing this so many years later? I answer that below.


I know that I am open to criticism for containing some pages which are fraught with problems – but, to my knowledge, those are ALL either in the Ancient & Mythical or Continental sections of the database or are one of the Draft & temporary pages. I do warn that I treat the (first mentioned) sections as “NOT to be taken too seriously”, certainly not as seriously as I treat the British & Irish section that makes up over 95% my database. Also, those pages which are labelled Draft or Temporary are clearly marked as being incomplete and open to review & comment. I try to ensure that any questionable data included in the main British & Irish section is shown in italics or is otherwise highlighted as being questionable. Do let me know if you think otherwise.

On History of the site I report that I have been working on this site since 2002. I sometimes ask myself “Why I am I still doing this?” so it is reasonable for others to ask the same question. The reason is quite simple but needs a brief introduction. At several stages in my life I worked really hard but found that, after just a little time, there was nothing left to show for it. Some things were achieved (not least my earning enough to bring up a family), so that effort was not truly wasted, but I wanted to do something that could outlast me. Working on this site has provided a way to do that.


Working on the Families Database has FIVE big advantages over most other things I could have done:
* it can be picked up or left alone at any time;
* almost whatever I do is likely to improve it whether by making it larger or in some way better;
* it is effectively never-ending so I can keep working on it as long as I want to;
* it produces frequent positive feedback from others both through seeing many people showing that they are interested enough in what I am doing to pay for a subscription (many doing so regularly over many years) and through correspondence; and
* it will outlast me – though I do need to ensure that someone else will take it over from me in due course.


Do I enjoy it? There are some things I do like about it, particularly the ‘jigsaw puzzle’ element of it all, seeing how we are all interconnected. However, in many ways it has become routine, something I quite like doing to keep myself busy rather than something of huge interest. Perhaps that is what has kept me working on it. Something that ‘wowed me’ would carry the risk of disappointment that could lead to curtailment. Pleasant routine is easy to follow and tends to last.

At the top of every page is a standard Header and at the bottom of every page is a standard Footer. Between them, these contain links to all the main introduction & support pages within the site (including The Site Map). To get back to the Home Page, click on the Stirnet logo in the top left corner. Don’t forget that you can use the back & forward arrows provided by your browser.


If you have been to the site before and find that a link that used to work no longer does so, it may be that there has been a change in the site but the memory cache in your computer is trying to direct you to a page which has been moved or deleted. This can often be remedied simply by clicking on your browser’s ‘Refresh’ button or your keyboard’s F5 (or Ctrl+F5). If you experience this problem frequently, or find thatrefreshing the page does not work, I suggest that, from time to time, you clear your browser’s memory of your visits around the Internet and/or you reduce your browser’s memory settings.

Within the Families Database,

(a) Links to ‘Top of page’ will normally take you to just below the very top of the page. This is because that is the highest point in the page we can place the anchor needed to move you to the right part of the page. We could set you back to the very top of the page but that would mean reloading the page completely which might slow down your viewing.

(b) If you open another page within the database it will simply replace the previous page. However, if you open a page which is in another site altogether then a new file will normally be opened so that you can move about that other site and then come back to this site without difficulty.

(c) If you have not logged-in as a Member, you will have your viewing of the database interrupted after a few seconds. For more information on this, see Membership Scheme.

The data pages in the Families Database are protected from being printed except by Members but, otherwise, Yes you can – as long as you respect our Copyrights (for more information on which, see Terms of use).


It is never easy to ensure that printing is easy for all different browsers but we have tested printing in all of the major browsers. If in doubt as to how to print out any page, Ctrl+P normally works (that is: hold down the Control key and press P). Some pages in the site print better in portrait (tall & narrow) than in landscape (short & wide), for others it is the other way round. It may be worth you using your browser’s Print View option before you try printing a long page to see which is best for that page.