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Meet the team

Stephen Rigden Records development manager

Stephen Rigden's Photo

Role

I work with archives, family history societies and other owners of original historical records to digitise these for findmypast. I also help and advise colleagues on family history questions and problems. You may recognise me as findmypast.co.uk's resident family history expert. I have been a professional genealogist since 1987 and was with findmypast.co.uk at the time of its first incarnation, Family Research Link, which metamorphosed into 1837online.

Family History

All my 16 great great grandparents were born east of the River Medway, so I am a bona fide man of Kent. As well as East Kent, my specialist interests include Eastern European and Balkan genealogy.

Debra Chatfield Marketing manager

Debra Chatfield's Photo

Role

One of the original team of four that launched the website back in 2003, (then known as 1837online), I now look after all offline marketing including PR, print and TV advertising, events and sponsorship for findmypast

Family History

Among my ancestors are generations of Dartmoor blacksmiths, Norfolk carpenters dating back to Elizabethan times, pianoforte manufacturers from Shoreditch in London, and Robert Towell, the first full-time English infill plane maker (a tool for cabinet makers), one of whose signed 170 year old planes I now proudly own.

Elaine Collins Business development director

Elaine Collins's Photo

Role

As findmypast's business development director I lead the team responsible for acquiring new records for the site, key partnerships and international initiatives.

Family History

I come from a long line of English agricultural labourers and, when they gave up on country life and fled to the overcrowded houses of north London, carmen, laundresses and railway workers, with a smattering of Italian peasantry and Irish soldiers thrown into the mix. I consider myself a Londoner through and through, and I live in historic Clerkenwell within a one mile radius of the majority of my 19th and 20th century ancestors.

Peter LancasterSearch developer

Peter Lancaster's Photo

Role

I was one of the web developers that built the 1837online which started with just the birth, marriage and death records for England and Wales before more records were added and the site was renamed to findmypast. I work on all aspects of the website but focus on providing searches when new records become available.

Family History

My own family history is all concentrated in the Preston area where my ancestors often worked in the thriving cotton industry on which much of the population of Preston relied during the 19th century.

Paul Yates Head of findmypast

Paul Yates's Photo

Role

I am the head of findmypast and lead a talented team to deliver one of the leading family history websites with the most amazing collection of historical records.

Family History

My ancestors are a very mixed bag. On my father's side there is a very long line of miners from Bolsover in Derbyshire. These ancestors are very easy to trace as they remained in the same village for many generations. On my mother's side there are more lofty connections to the Duke of Bedford, as well as my favourite ancestor who allegedly printed the first penny black.

Ian Tester Product manager

Ian Tester's Photo

Role

As product manager I am responsible for developing and improving the website, particularly looking for new features to make discovering your family history easier and more satisfying.

Family History

I come from a long line of agricultural labourers and fishermen, mostly from Kent and Sussex but with a few exotic imports. When I moved house a few years ago, I later discovered that I am literally encircled by generations of my ancestors, which means that some research can be done on a long walk. My most exciting discovery to date is that I appear to be related in some way to most of the remaining fishing families in Hastings.

Nicky Doran Head of customer services

Nicky Doran's Photo

Role

I lead all of the support teams across the DC Thomson Family History websites.

Family History

I am first generation English as both of my parents and all of their ancestors originate from Ireland. While researching my extended family history, my family were surprised to find that my West Indian father-in-law's grandfather was the illegitimate son of King Christian IX of Denmark.

Amy Sell Product executive

Amy Sell's Photo

Role

I work with our product manager Ian to make findmypast even better than it currently is, providing you with all the information, records and features you need to trace your family tree. I've been working for findmypast.co.uk since 2008 - you might recognise me from my previous role as marketing executive.

Family History

I've become completely addicted to tracing my own family history while working for findmypast! So far, I've discovered a line of chimney sweeps and straw plaiters from Hertfordshire in my maternal line, plus an Olympic athlete who won two bronze medals and the 1878 winner of the Doggett's Coat and Badge race on my paternal side. You can follow my progress at my blog: Amy: Finding My Past

Jess Spiers Digital content manager

Jess Spiers's Photo

Role

I joined findmypast in January 2010 and since then I've been responsible for adding content to the site. I create and send out your monthly newsletters (I hope you enjoy them!) and I also get involved on our Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages and our blog.

Family History

Since starting my family tree I've discovered that my maternal great grandfather was born in India - I had no idea! I now want to find out how he met my great grandmother, a Yorkshire lass, and how their marriage came about.

Richard Jackson Data manager

Richard Jackson's Photo

Role

Relatively fresh to genealogy, I have been with findmypast since February 2010 and I spend my time dealing with data supplies from family history societies and transcription houses. I am responsible for loading data to the site and data and image quality.

Family History

I come from a long line of farmers, miners and blacksmiths - one of whom was almost bankrupted after the birth of the motor car.

Paul Nixon Content licensing manager

Paul Nixon's Photo

Role

I work with Elaine Collins and Stephen Rigden to bring you the best family history records from data owners around the world. I am also findmypast's resident military expert.

Family History

It doesn't take much to divert me along various military history avenues, a trait I blame on my maternal great-grandfather, paternal grandfather and four great uncles, all of whom served their King and Country during WW1. My great great grandfather was a colour sergeant with the 2nd Regiment of Foot and I have a letter from him, written to his commanding officer on 14 November 1861 (while stationed on the island of Corfu) asking to be 'allowed the indulgence' of getting married. Had permission not been granted, it seems unlikely I would be writing this...

Xin Zhu Lead developer

Xin Zhu's Photo

Role

I joined findmypast in September 2011 and I work on all application development aspects of the site. My ambition is to bring the most cutting-edge technologies into production and give our users the best family research experience.

Family History

I come from a small city in northeast China. As far as I know, all my ancestors are from the same region. My great grandfather started as an apprentice in a retail business and subsequently owned the majority of the business. He then invested in properties and had about 40 houses and a lot of land at one point! Interestingly, my grandparents on both of my parents' sides are doctors, although none of their predecessors had anything to do with medicine!

Myko Clelland Marketing executive

Myko Clelland's Photo

Role

I am responsible for spreading an infectious findmypast enthusiasm through social media strategy, promotion, advertising, PR campaigns and our event presence, where I get to hear all of your fantastic stories first hand, making it all worthwhile!

Family History

My ancestry is fairly colourful, full of strange stories and interesting characters (which might explain a lot). One half is a long Ayrshire village line going back to the 1600s and beyond. The other is an old aristocratic family from Gela in Sicily, with a half century detour via the Libyan city of Tripoli where both sides met. The future king Umberto II actually paid for and arranged my great-grandmother's medical treatment!

Scot McSweeney-Roberts Software developer

Scot McSweeney-Roberts's Photo

Role

My job as software developer involves ensuring that the back-end of the findmypast website functions as efficiently as possible.

Family History

My ancestry is a mixed bag, to say the least. My McSweeney side is Irish- American. My maternal grandfather was born in America in around 1917 and I discovered that he worked on a submarine base in Groton, CT. My dad was born in Scotland and there are also Welsh links in my paternal line. My research has also uncovered some mining and firemen ancestors.