Talks

I am an experienced speaker with a large repertoire of talks, covering a variety of family history-based topics. I have spoken at Who Do You Think You Are? Live and other major Family History events and have also given talks at The National Archives, London Metropolitan Archives, The Society of Genealogists and numerous Family History Societies around London and the South East.

I am happy to tailor any of the talks on the list below to your particular needs and I can adjust the content of the talk depending on the degree of experience of the audience. I am also (with sufficient notice) able to produce talks on other family history-related topics which are not on the list. If you would like to book me, please contact me to discuss details. I charge £90 per talk (plus travelling expenses).

Getting started: a beginner’s guide to family history An introduction to family history research. Where do I start? What sources should I use? What can I do online? This talk will introduce the key sources for family history research as well as demonstrating some of the most important websites. Book this talk Beginners
Lost in London: solving your London family history problems Tracing your ancestors back to the period before civil registration and the Victorian census returns can present a genuine challenge to most family historians. But if your family came from London, the problems that you’re likely to face can be even harder to overcome. The population of London doubled between 1801 and 1841 making it the most populated city in world. Outlying villages were swallowed up as London spread ever outwards – the boundaries of what constituted London were constantly being redrawn. The administration of the area was enormously complicated – the City of London alone comprised over 100 parishes – and the records of the various authorities responsible for running London are now spread around a number of different record offices. This talk will explain how to access and make the most of the capital’s diverse collection of records and will give some useful tips on tracking down those elusive London ancestors. Book this talk Beginners
Intermediate
Counting the people: census returns online A census of England and Wales has been taken every ten years since 1801 and the surviving records now form one of family history’s key resources. The schedules for the years 1841 to 1911 are now easily accessible online but finding our ancestors isn’t always as easy as we like. Based on more than thirty years experience of working with census returns, this talk will introduce some essential  techniques for searching online databases and will provide some vital clues to help you track down your elusive ancestors. Book this talk Beginners
Intermediate
In the name of God amen: wills for family historians Whether your ancestors owned large swathes of land in the north of England or came from a more humble background in the West Country, the chances are that somewhere along the line some of them will have left wills. Wills are among the most important sources for family historians usually containing invaluable information about family relationships. This talk will look at how to access wills and how you can use them to get a better understanding of what life was really like for your ancestors. Book this talk Beginners
Intermediate
Brick walls and lost ancestors: problem solving for family historians Even the luckiest of family historians will come up against brick walls from time to time. We’ve all experienced the feeling that our ancestors appeared from thin air. This talk will aim to show that everyone left a paper trail and that it’s almost always possible to find it. It will introduce a number of strategies to help you get around the brick walls and dead ends in your research, paying particular attention to getting the most out of online databases and advanced techniques such as ‘family reconstruction’. Book this talk Intermediate
Advanced
The Enumerator Strikes Back The enumerators first went to work on the UK census in 1841 and have performed a vital role in each successive decennial census ever since then. It hasn’t always been an easy ride: confronted by hostile householders and at the mercy of the decisions made by the census authorities, their stories shed a fascinating light on one of the most important sets of records used by family historians today. Using original documents, contemporary newspaper reports and the census returns themselves, this talk will turn the spotlight onto the men and women who created the UK’s census returns. Book this talk Intermediate
Advanced
The Letter of the Law: legislation for family historians The records that we use to research our family history are largely the result of a variety of Acts of Parliament. A good understanding of the legislation behind the census returns, parish registers and civil registration records (and many more) can make an enormous difference when it comes to interpreting the information left behind by our ancestors. This talk looks at the major pieces of legislation from Thomas Cromwell’s ‘order’ which established the parish register system in 1538, through the various Census Acts and the ground-breaking 1836 Act for the registering of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in England to investigate how the legislation can impact on your research. Book this talk Intermediate
Advanced
Dr Williams’ Library: an early nonconformist birth registry Dr Williams’ Library in London is an essential resource for people who are researching the history of protestant nonconformity in England and Wales, but the library also gave its name to an important collection of registers and certificates which were formerly held there. This talk will look at these fascinating documents which represent an early attempt to introduce a form of civil registration of births. Book this talk Intermediate
Advanced
Death and taxes: understanding the death duty registers For over a hundred years, from 1796 to 1903, the Inland Revenue maintained a series of registers recording the payments of death duties. These registers are now held by The National Archives and represent one of family history’s best kept secrets. This talk will look at the surviving records in detail and will explain how they can be used to uncover some fascinating facts about the lives and times of our nineteenth century ancestors. Book this talk Intermediate
Advanced
A brief history of Myddelton Street: a London street through the ages Myddelton Street in Clerkenwell was the home of The Family Records Centre between 1997 and 2008. During my ten years of working there I became fascinated by the history of the street and the surrounding area. This talk aims to bring the history of Myddelton Street to life: from its earliest days as a field path on the outskirts of London, right up to the present day. Find out how water, the theatre and the watch making industry all had a part to play in this fascinating story. Book this talk General interest
Charles Darwin: a life in the archives The story of Charles Darwin’s life has been told countless times. This talk (primarily aimed at family historians) takes a fresh approach to the task, illustrating the life of one of England’s most famous names through the documents held in a variety of archives and record offices. Book this talk General interest