Ryan, Catherine


Ryan, Catherine

Local and family historian

  • Buildings/Locations research, Communities research, Individuals/Families research
  • Barnard Castle, County Durham
  • Updated 2 months ago


Hi, I am Catherine Ryan, the owner of Elusive Ancestors, which is a specialist historical research service, focussing on family histories, house and property histories and the transcription of old documents.

I am an experienced researcher based in the Pennine hills of Northern England offering property and family history research in archives and online.  I have particular expertise in the North Riding Registry of Deeds which was inaugurated in 1736.  These documents often contain details of family relationships from well before civil registration in the UK.  This archive is not yet digitised and has to be consulted at North Yorkshire County Record Office.

Another particular interest is in the borderlands between Cumbria, North Yorkshire and County Durham, but I have experience of researching families in many of the other northern counties of England, including Northumberland, Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire.  I have researched extensively in local record offices and the National Archives and am keen to gain experience in other archives.

I have enjoyed transcribing wills and other documents from as far back in time as the 16th Century and am currently working on manorial court and probate material from the late 17th century and deeds from the 18th Century.

Most reporting is done by e-mail for research reports and large files can be sent by the WeTransfer service.  I like to keep clients informed as to how the research is progressing and this is usually done by email.

Reports can be posted, but this will cost more because of printing and postage fees.  Large family trees can be commissioned, but would involve using a third party to print them out, with associated costs.

All queries will be dealt with in a prompt and confidential manner, in line with the RQG Code of Practice.

My Background
I have a good understanding of agricultural and rural communities across the UK; my first degree was in Agricultural Economics and I worked in this area for over 10 years, analysing commodity markets.

My second career was as a qualified teacher and I offer advice to teachers and home-schooling parents who want to incorporate local and family history into the curriculum.

I then studied for an MLitt in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee, qualifying in 2019, with Merit.

The topics I covered as part of this course were:

Skills and Sources for Family and Local History in England

English Palaeography and Diplomatic

Understanding and Reading Latin

House History

Ecclesiastical Archives

Military Archives

Educational Archives

Dissertation – The North Riding Register of Deeds and it’s Usefulness to the Family and Local Historian

Since that time I have been building my all-round knowledge of genealogical topics (such as using DNA in research, 17th Century research and Irish Research) by regularly taking courses, mainly run by Pharos and the Society of Genealogists, of which I am a member.

I am currently transcribing manorial documents from the 17th Century as part of a local history project and write an occasional blog about life in Teesdale over the years at https://bygone-teesdale-folk.org.uk.

I give talks to family and local history groups as well as other organisations.  These talks include: –

The Cheesemongers of Teesdale

Teesdale in the 18th Century

Using Deeds in Family/Local History Research


  • Genealogy
  • Local History
  • North Yorkshire County Durham and Cumbria
  • Property History
  • Transcription of Old Documents


  • June 2019
    MLitt Family and Local History at University of Dundee
  • June 1992
    PGCE at Charlotte Mason College
  • 1981
    BSc (Hons) at University of Newcastle Upon Tyne


To contact this candidate email catherineryan@qualifiedgenealogists.org

Contact using webmail: Gmail / AOL / Yahoo / Outlook