Mike, 79, lives in Burtonwood, Warrington, UK. Now retired as a lecturer in computers and with the disabled, he received an Honours B.Ed from Manchester Metropolitan University. He has four adult children from his first marriage and three step-children from his second marriage.
He was born in Holland before WWII to English parents from Hull. Following the war, he moved to Belgium until 1952, when he joined the Welsh Guards and attended Sandhurst Royal Military Academy. He lived in the US for eight years and returned to the UK in 1964.
Mike became interested in family history when he traced his mother’s side to 1500 and discovered some 900 ancestors. On his father’s side, he found only 1,770 people because his great-great-grandfather had been sent to Tasmania as a convict in 1837 and was killed there. Along the way, other people have asked him for help on their family trees.
Sylvia Lyon, a family friend, asked Mike to help research her mother’s family, who had lived in Cornwall around 1500.
Then I took on her father’s Lyon family to find that she was related to the Queen. The Queen’s mother is Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, who married King George VI.
Mike has traced the Lyon family to 1066 with some difficulty, although the family claims descent from Rome in the year 590. He has not pursued this claim.
The family served all the Scottish kings in high office from Robert the Bruce until James VI who became James I of England. The family home - Glamis Castle in Scotland - is still a working castle. Since 1387, the Earls of Strathmore have lived there.
In the 1600s, many Lyons family members migrated to America and Mike has traced over 12,000 members of them. There are some 1 million members of the Lyon family alive today – not all directly related to the Royal family.
After Mike joined MyHeritage in 2009, bringing his GEDCOM with him from another service, he was called by a MyHeritage representative:
When I joined MyHeritage I was flooded with people wanting to verify family members. I was surprised to get a call from a MyHeritage representitive who pointed out the benefits of the site for promoting my book which will hopefully be published in March or April. There is so much to learn about your site.
MyHeritage has helped Mike improve his own family relations by encouraging them to take part in the research for the Hewitt, Frieman, Dowe, Twort and other families. There are 888 people in the Hewitt tree, but there are many branches. The Lyon tree has 10,404 currently but it is always changing; they live in the UK (Yorkshire, Lancashire) and in the US (California, Colorado and Florida).
He says he is flooded with SmartMatches. Most of the matches are from the UK and US, with some from Australia.
Several times he has found unknown or long-lost relatives through MyHeritage SmartMatches. He even found a mother for a relative who had never known her.
When asked to share a story from his research, Mike says there are almost too many to name. Among them, he has been able to reconstruct an early Lyon family tree from 1066, and found interesting ties with the Knights Templar and medieval history.
Mike shares his tips with those just starting out on their ancestral journey:
- Make sure that you have as many details of your family while they are alive. You will need all the details you can get before the 1911 UK census to lay a foundation.
- I once spent three months tracing my grandfather, Charles Hewitt, whom I knew as a child until I discovered that his name was Frederick Charles Hewitt – my middle name! Things like this can cause wasted time and effort.
- Do not jump to conclusions. Make sure to check everything you can with other family members.
Did you enjoy Mike’s story? Share your comments below.
Search for your ancestors: