I am an experienced speaker with a large repertoire of talks, covering a variety of family history-based topics. I have spoken at RootsTech, The Genealogy Show, 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.
Due to the ongoing COVID crisis, it is likely that most talks will be held as online Zoom meetings. Please check with the organisers for the latest situation.
20 October ONLINE Mind The Gaps – Chiltern U3A Family History Group 2, Amersham Details…
5/6 November ONLINE The Letter Of The Law – A Deeper Dive Into English Research Details…
8 November My Ancestor Was A Liar – Phyllis Court Family History Society, Henley-on-Thames Details…
14 May My Ancestor Was A Liar – Northamptonshire FHS Conference Details…
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 a talk, 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|
|My ancestor was a liar: ignorance, half-truths or wilful deceit?||Sifting through the evidence to find the truth (or what passes for the truth in the world of genealogy) is a skill which all serious family historians need to develop. The information left by our ancestors is all-too-frequently misleading, inaccurate or just plain wrong! As we become more experienced we find that they had any number of reasons to be economical with the truth. |
Of course, sometimes our ancestors simply didn’t know the answer to the questions thrown at them by the clerks, registrars and enumerators. Using real examples, this talk will look at some of the reasons why our ancestors might have lied and offer suggestions on how to recognise their varying degrees of ignorance, half-truths and wilful deception. Book this talk
|Mind the gaps! understanding and improving your online searches||The major genealogical websites provide easy access to many of the most useful records for family history research. The way that the material is arranged gives us the impression that the various databases are comprehensive. But are they? This talk will look at examples of missing registers and explain why the websites’ hints and suggestions might be pointing you in the wrong direction.||Beginners|
|The Scottish Talk: researching your Scottish ancestors||Most of the sources that we use to research our Scottish ancestors are the same or very similar to the English & Welsh equivalents but there are some important differences. The key sources – the birth, marriage and death records (Statutory Registers), the censuses, the parish registers (Old Parish Registers) and the wills and testaments – are relatively easy to access, both onsite at the National Records for Scotland in Edinburgh and via the ScotlandsPeople website, but we’ve got a whole new set of dates to learn and a number of terms and concepts to get to grips with. |
This talk will consider the ‘Pros and Cons’ of Scottish research while examining the key sources in some detail. It will also look at records relating to land & property and taxation and will cover the key websites for Scottish research.
|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|
|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|
|Bringing it up to date: Research in the 20th Century||Tracing our more recent ancestors can often prove more difficult than tracking down those from earlier times. This talk looks at the sources available to us and how we can use them to piece together the stories of our 20th Century ancestors. 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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|