One Name Dilema

I need some help, advice or perhaps medication!

I’m seriously thinking about embarking on a One Name Study. I’ve been mulling this over for the last two or three weeks. I’ve looked at the Guild of One-Name Studies website, I’ve Googled “one name studies” loads of times and I’ve checked for one name study blogs and websites.

I know it will be an arduous task and I will need to be really well organised and committed. I am prepared for that – to be in for the long haul.

My wife’s family name is Espley and that’s the one I want to research. There are 108 Espley’s on the England 1841 census and 408 on the 1911 census. There are some other derivations of the name as you would expect – Epsley, Esply, Epsly, Aspley, Apsly and Asply – all appear on the 1911 census. Not sure how many of these are transcription errors – they will all need to be checked and recorded though.

I know some of the people we have in our family tree emigrated to Canada and New Zealand and most likely to other places as well.

To start with I am going to concentrate on the UK and see how I get on.

I could do with some advice about the best way to manage the information. I found one website offering a database called Custodian 3 and on various forums people have said that they have just used a spreadsheet, like Excel.

So should I just go for the commercial product and save time – it isn’t expensive but perhaps it’s not essential either. I’m not particulalrly good at setting up a database from scratch – I could probably manage a simple spreadsheet though. So any help or advice about your experiences if you have gone down this road would be welcome – thanks.

I’ve already handwritten the England 1841 census information and the IGI marriages into my trusty notebook. Just really to get a feel for how much work is going to be involved. I’m now itching to get this information into a database or spreadsheet.

I’m going to set myself a research plan – GRO indexes, rest of the census records and IGI births and deaths to start.

I’ve more or less decided to focus on Espley in the UK first and look overseas later. Other questions are – should I register with the Guild of One Name Studies right away and maybe register a website domain for when I’m ready to publish the results.

I’m getting really giddy about the prospect of starting this new project.



  1. Hi Mike

    I am about to commence a One Place Study and I recently did a 3 week online course at and I do know that they also have a One Name Study course beginining in January 2011 which may help you with ideas of what to do. (course details, I’m thinking I might do this one also). I did download and have a look at Custodian 3 but I’m not sure if I really like it (though others seem to). The other program that might suit you is Clooz 2.0 ( I’m more than likely will choose Clooz over Custodian but in the meantime all I am going to be using is excel spreadsheets for my data, as well as use Legacy.

    All the best with your research.


  2. I have come to the conclusion that genealogist are never happy unless they have more work than they can comfortably handle. The less time you have, the more you want to do. I am trying to suppress the urge to start a one-place study and have been meaning to start a one-name study for years, but never got around to it.


  3. I’ve been a member of the Guild for several years now, and have got a lot out of my Guild membership. You can join the Guild without registering the surname if you’re not ready to embark on a one-name study. I would say go for it. You can proceed at your own pace. There’s no requirement to do everything at once. You will get a wealth of advice from Guild members on the Guild mailing list and there is a huge amount of material in the Guild Wiki.

    I use Family Historian for my one-name study, as do many Guild members:

    There are people on the Forum who use Custodian who would be able to advise you. There are other members who swear by the Master Genealogist.

    Even if you’re not a member you can join our group on Facebook:

    or follow us on Twitter:



  4. Interesting discussion… I’ve been thinking of a One Name Study for my surname for a while, but don’t really have any idea how to go about it… shall be watching with interest!


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