Debrett Ancestry Research
Family Biographies

Telling your family's story and preserving it for future generations

Bound copies of family biography
  • Have you reached the end of the line in tracing your ancestors?
  • Do you have a mass of family history information that needs organising?
  • Or maybe you have an online family tree that you'd like to turn into a real book?
  • Are you looking to create a lasting document of your family's past to hand on to the next generation?

We can help you to draw together the whole story into a single, readable volume: a professionally written Family Biography.

Just as each family is unique, we believe that each family history deserves individual and thoughtful treatment. A Debrett Family Biography will be tailored to your specific interests and produced in the format that you choose.

Each biography will include a detailed family tree chart and we can also arrange to have this printed on acid-free paper, suitable for framing.

The finished book will not just state what happened and where, but will seek to explain why a family moved to a particular location, or why their fortunes rose or fell. We may not find all the answers, but setting a family in its historical and geographical context often makes sense of your family's past.

family photos help to make family biography

We begin with the earliest known generation and we can bring the story completely up to the present; or we can end it at any point you choose.

We believe that each family history deserves individual and thoughtful treatment.

Step One - Gather everything together

photos, medal, diaries, documents building a family history

Everyone begins this process from a different point. If you have traced your ancestry yourself, or had it researched professionally, our starting point will be the family tree that you have already drawn up – in whatever format is available – or a link to your online genealogy. At a later stage we welcome copies of certificates, letters, photographs and any other personal documentation that you wish to include, but we ask you not to send us original documents or photographs – they are too precious.

family biography birth certificate, diary medals, letters

We will ask you a few questions about what you wish to include, and any areas that you would like to be explored in particular. We can then provide you with an initial quotation.

If you are an existing Debrett Ancestry Research client, we will already have most of this information, but we will ask you about any special areas of interest and about the illustrations that you wish to include.

Not quite there yet?

If you have not quite reached this stage, but need some further research to be carried out to discover more generations, or to confirm what you have already, we can help you with one of our Ancestry Research Programmes.

Step Two – Filling in the gaps

‘There is a history in all men’s lives’
(William Shakespeare, Henry VI Part 2)

family photograph Debrett Ancestry family biography, old maps, photograph, Debrett

However much information you have already, there will usually be a few loose ends to follow, to make better sense of the family's story. You might want to ask specific questions or find out more about particular people or places.

As part of the Family Biography Programme we usually carry out some additional searches such as: additional census returns, birth, marriage and death certificates, searches in original records such as parish registers and wills, further information about siblings or step-parents, military service records, immigration records.

We can work with you to decide how much further information you want. Sometimes further questions arise as work on the Family Biography progresses. In that case we might suggest some optional additional research. We always work within an agreed budget, so that there are no unforeseen charges.

Step Three – Constructing your story

Old maps and photographs tell a story - Debrett Family Biography research into family occupations by Debrett Ancestry Research

We then begin compiling and writing your Family Biography, starting with the earliest known generation. The main focus of each book will be the family itself and their occupations, but to put the story in context we include some background information about the places and times in which they lived, and their occupations. This not only brings the story to life but is often essential to understand a family's movements.

This might include:

  • contemporary descriptions of places from gazetteers and directories
  • background information about occupations
  • illustrations of significant locations
  • contemporary maps

A proof copy will be sent to you for review. If there are further areas you want to explore, we can provide a quotation for additional searches.


a sense of place through Debrett family biograpy

Step Four – The finished product

Once the final draft of your Family Biography has been approved, you can choose from a range of different bindings. The size for each will be A4:

Plain bound family biography by Debrett Ancestry research

We can supply one or more copies in our standard format, this being a printed report with red and gold Debrett covers and plastic comb binding. Prices from £25 per copy.

Craftsman bound family biography in half leather by Debrett Family Biographies service
Craftsman bound

We can arrange to have one or more copies beautifully bound by hand in half-leather at our local bindery.

Colours vary. Prices from £108 per copy.

Perfect bound family biography by Debrett Ancestry Research
Perfect binding (paperback)

We can arrange for the book to be printed and bound in multiple copies (perfect binding). Prices depend on the length of the book, the number of colour illustrations, and the number of copies required. We will provide a quotation once the final draft has been approved.

Other options

We are happy to discuss any other requirements you may have for the final production of your Family Biography.

Family Tree Chart

Family Tree Chart constructed by Debrett Ancestry Resrch

As part of every Family Biography programme we draw up a detailed pedigree or family tree chart in our unique format. A copy will be included in the bound volume. If you would also like a display copy, we can have the chart printed on high quality acid-free paper suitable for framing, in sizes up to A0. Costs for this begin at £30. For further details click here.

Who we are

The history of Debrett can be traced back to 1766, when John Field Debrett, the 13-year-old son of a French cook, was apprenticed to a Piccadilly bookseller and publisher. By 1781, John Debrett was running his own business, and in due course he took over the publication originally known as Collins's Peerage which, by 1802, had become Debrett's Correct Peerage. Over two centuries later, Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage is still the definitive genealogical guide to Britain's titled families.

By the 1960s and 1970s, however, it was clear that it was not only peers and baronets who took pride in their family history. In response to a growing fascination with genealogy which spanned right across society, Debrett's set up a new division, Debrett Ancestry Research, with the aim of providing a high-quality, professional research service for anyone with British ancestry. Now a separate company, Debrett Ancestry Research Ltd has researched more than 7000 families from all walks of life and from all over the world. For further information about us and the full range of our services, please visit our main website.

Costs and payment

Each Family Biography is unique, and we will provide you with an individual quotation once we have reviewed your starting information and preferences. The final costs will depend on the scope of the family information, the format that you choose, and how much additional research is required. As a rough guide, a budget for a Family Biography that concentrates on one family line would range from £900 to £2,500 excluding final binding costs.

Payment is usually spread in a series of instalments.

For an initial quotation please complete this form and/or send us a copy of your family tree or a summary of what you already know about your family by email or post. Our full contact details are here. Alternatively, please email us or telephone us on 01962 841904 to discuss your requirements. There will be no obligation to proceed.

Contact us

By post:
Debrett Ancestry Research Ltd
PO Box 379
SO23 9YQ
United Kingdom

By phone: (+44) (0)1962 841904

By email: