Cambridgeshire Family and Local History Fair 2016

The Cambridgeshire Family and Local History fair returns for 2016!

The Cambridgeshire Family History Society’s Family and Local History Fair returns on Saturday 22nd October 2016.

Once again, the Glebe Primary School in Girton, on the North West of Cambridge, plays host to this genealogy feast day with doors opening 10am until 4pm, and as usual it’s free admission and free parking!

Expert genealogy and history talks

There’s a great line-up of guest speakers at this year’s fair, and it’s going to be very tempting to stay all day! These talks aren’t free, but are usually well worth their £2 fee:

  • 10:30 – Robert Parker: Our Ancestors 1939-1945
  • 12 noon – Mike Petty: Reflections on Eight Decades researching Cambridge
  • 13:30 – Myko Clelland: Making the most of FindMyPast
  • 15:00 – Gill Blanchard: Behind the scenes of Who Do You Think You Are?
The Cambridgeshire Family History Fair. Photo: Andrew Martin
The Cambridgeshire Family History Fair. Photo: Andrew Martin

I’ll be making my shopping wish list up in the next few weeks, so that I can peruse the trade and society stands without accidentally buying duplicates (like i have done with a few certificates lately, oops!).

As the fair gets ever closer, check out the Cambridgeshire Family History Society website for the latest info.

Day One: Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014

Day one of three, from the 2014 Who Do You Think You Are? Live show at London’s Olympia.

Today has been the first day of Who Do You Think You Are Live? 2014 at London’s Olympia.

Day One of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014
Day One of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014

This is my fourth year here, and for the first time, I’ve booked a hotel, and I’m going to be here for all three days of the show.

Hopefully I can find enough to keep me entertained, and looking at the workshop schedule, this is going to be fairly easy.

The first year that I visited (back in 2011), I hadn’t booked myself onto any talks/workshops, and so found the whole event initially interesting, but not able to sustain my interest for a whole day – and I considered skipping it the following year.

Thankfully I didn’t, and I’ve been coming back ever since.

Angels, Cushions, Books, and Sin

I arrived at about 10am, complete with case (which, together with my coat, I swiftly consigned to the cloakroom).

I soon spotted Jackie Depelle, and her now infamous WDYTYALive themed hat, and after a quick hello, found my way to my first lecture session ‘Write Your Life Story’ with Michael Oke of Bound Biographies.

He explained how he fell into publishing through helping an elderly man write his life story. He went on to explain how best to get your own life story down – highlighting the need to record all the tiniest pieces of information you can, in order to help the reader remember you, or to picture or connect with the person or people you’re writing about.

Whilst leaving his session, I thought I’d died, when I bumped into these two angelic nurses…

Angel nurses from
Angel nurses from

With (a pricey) lunch out of the way, it was time for my second lecture – this time from Dr Colin R Chapman on Sin, Sex & Probate.

Dr Colin R Chapman on Sin, Sex & Probate, at day one of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014
Dr Colin R Chapman on Sin, Sex & Probate, at day one of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014

Dr Chapman talked through the hierarchical structure of the church, and explained that the records held by each level could be detailed and fascinating – but particularly a Bishop’s records (for the juicy gossip). He pulled some examples out from Norfolk, Essex, Cheshire, and Oxfordshire, to illustrate the range of ‘sins’ that we’re legitimate crimes – including defamation, not returning to church after giving birth to say ‘Thanks’ to God, punching a man whilst in a graveyard, and eating meat in Lent.

He pointed out that the church courts dealt with sins, and the civic courts dealt with crimes.

All in all, a fascinating topic, and I’m considering buying a copy of his book (of the same name), if only to read further examples, and help steer me to somewhere where I might find my own ancestor’s scandal.

I hasten to add, it’s the first time I’ve ever had to ask for a ticket for Sin, Sex & Probate!

I managed to pop along to the FindMyPast stand twice, catching the tail end of David Annal‘s fascinating talk on census returns and how you can use search wild cards to get better results, and examples of poor handwriting and missing relatives.

Also, appearing later, was the turn of Myko Clelland of FindMyPast, who once again under-dressed for the show (see pic below), whilst searching for Cushions in Shoreditch (of the surname kind), to help illustrate the collections, new image viewer, and new tree builder (I’ll be giving this a spin when I get home).

Myko Clelland ( talks cushions at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014
Myko Clelland ( talks cushions at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014

All in all a good first day. Tomorrow has a tweet-up to attend, more lectures, shopping, and no doubt catching up with more genealogy friends.

Andrew boosts Suffolk baptism records by 141,500 has added 450,000 more parish register entries to its collection – including 141,500 Suffolk baptisms.

Popular genealogy research site has announced another tranche of 450,000 online parish records. logo

In a Press Release this morning, it was revealed that 141,525 ‘new’ parish baptisms from 1753-1911 have been added to the website via a collaboration with the Suffolk Family History Society.

This is a fantastic boost for researchers of Suffolk ancestors, as well as for the FindMyPast site.

Amongst other records added at the same time were:

  • 244,309 Wiltshire Baptisms 1538-1867
  • 27,420 Northumberland & Durham Burials 1587-2009
  • 22,687 Sheffield Baptisms 1837-1968
  • 8,181 Sheffield Marriages 1824-1991
  • 7,113 Ryedale Baptisms, Marriages and Burials 1754-1999

The records are available to view online now for users with PayAsYouGo, Britain Full, or Worldwide subscription.

This is perfect timing for me, as I’ve been waiting for Suffolk parish records to help me solve some research hurdles.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2013

Day Two of 2013’s Who Do You Think You Are? Live event.

So, I’m just back home from my third Who Do You Think You Are? Live show at London’s Olympia.

The show, now in its second day, seems to be about the same size as in previous years. Thankfully the heating was on, as I’d already experienced the gentle flurry of snow adding to the shivvering I had done on the drab Earls Court station platform.

Stands at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2013
View across Olympia lower court.

At one end of the hall were all the local Family History Society stands – brought together by the Society of Genealogists, whilst the rest of the hall is filled with the behemoths of genealogy – the magazines, the suppliers, and the online datashops – Ancestry, FindMyPast, FamilySearch, and GenesReunited etc.

Upstairs, once again was the legend that is Eric Knowles, along with military historians – some in period costume. This whole area was packed with people clutching medals and photos, seeking information on relatives or identification of uniforms.

Following on from last year’s Titanic themed FindMyPast theatre, this year it was the turn of the Crime and Punishment theme (coinciding with their huge launch of fresh C&P records online). Their presenters were informative and entertaining, particularly period policeman Myko Clelland‘s search for Wombles.

A presentation by FindMyPast
FindMyPast’s Myko goes hunting for wombles.

The WDYTYALive Tweetup!

I had really wanted to attend what i think was the first ‘tweet-up’, and had been looking forward to meeting up with fellow genealogy twitter users, but awkwardly I was double-booked with the Richard III talk, so I had to bail, although did manage to meet a few twitter friends.

In the run-up, during, and no doubt afterwards, you can keep up with the latest mentions of the event by following the #wdytyalive hashtag on twitter.

Still, as guilty as that snubbing made me feel, i thought I better share Rosemary Morgan‘s photo of all those that did show up, as a kind of ‘sorry i couldn’t make it’.

Samantha Womack

I arrived before 10am, so had plenty of time until my first booked session – the Celebrity Interview with Samantha Womack (or Janus if you remember her in Game On or Eurovision). Interestingly, interviewer Tessa Dunlop led Sam to reveal that she had not watched the broadcast episode as she felt that it was a personal journey and wanted to keep it that way for herself… plus she said she hates seeing and hearing herself.

That aside, we saw a few broadcast clips from key moments, and also a clip that wasn’t in the programme (something seemingly Sam had wanted kept in the show), which revealed much more about her ancestor Jesse Rider being in ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ in the USA before she ever married or had children.

The Two Kings

Dr Turi King on stage
Dr Turi King shed light onto the Richard III dig and its future.

Dr Turi King‘s (University of Leicester) presentation was fascinating, and detailed the archaeological dig from the outset right up to finding and identifying King Richard III via DNA testing and genealogical research. She also gave an insight into what is still going on with the data and the all important skeleton. Dr King told us that there was still a lot of work to do and a lot of information to write up, and also a modern Y chromosome to follow up on. She emphasised that funding is a major issue in this project and in general in archaeology (a subject which Tony Robinson and Helen Geake also emphasised the other week at the University of Cambridge), and whilst this dig has been back-filled, there were still plenty of things to explore further – including a stone coffin which was left untouched.

The talk buried a few rumours (see what i did there?) circulated by the press – including free DNA tests via Who Do You Think You Are?, and also the rumour that Richard III was buried beneath the letter ‘R’ painted on a carpark. He was not.

Searching for Surnames with SoG

My third and final workshop was one with the great Else Churchill from the Society of Genealogists (affectionately known as SoG). She showed off the Society’s forthcoming much improved website, and also gave an insight into the work and vast collection that the Society performs and maintains. Sounds like the Society has a huge legacy of great and valuable historical sources but they are tied up in a range of formats making them a challenge to see. Still, it sounded like plans were afoot to change this, and the new site would at least make searching those items that are already indexed/catalogued much easier.

All in all, this was probably my most enjoyable WDYTYALive. After my first one being somewhat uninteresting, and my second one (last year) seeing me attend workshops for the first time and getting more value from it, this one built on that but with the added meeting of twitter friends old and new.

I look forward to WDYTYALive 2014 (i’m pretty sure I saw a stand selling next year’s tickets).

View across stands at WDYTYA Live 2013
View across stands at WDYTYA Live 2013