South West Area Group Family History Fair

The largest family history show in the South West

This coming Saturday, 16th May 2015, between 10am to 4pm at The Winter Gardens, Weston-Super-Mare is “The largest family history show in the South West”.

With over 40 exhibitors from all over the UK and Ireland, they have many family history societies and companies attending again this year.

Free Talks are being hosted throughout the day by various experts.

“Looking for Tommy – Tracing a Military Ancestor”
and “Breaking Down Brick Walls in your family history research”
both of which are by Mark Bayley, who is an Online Genealogy Expert.

“Recording, Reporting and Preserving Your Family History” with David Bayley, Genealogy Software Expert.

“Restoring Old Photographs & some tips for Do It Yourself Restorers” with Matt Curtis of Moments in Time. 

“How to start researching your Family Tree” with David Gynes Dorset FHS

Whether you are a beginner or an expert, everyone will be made very welcome at the event and there will be a lot to see with refreshments available all day. For those coming by car there will be plenty of parking to take advantage of.

This event is organised by family historians for family historians and is their 9th show, which the organisers report is getting more popular each time. The event is sponsored by  S&N Genealogy Supplies and by leading British genealogy research website TheGenealogist who will be there at the show.

As they say in their publicity: “Do you really know who you are? Come and find out – you may be surprised!”

South West Area Group Family History Fair

Important records of Civil Servants are now available on SoG Data Online

The Society of Genealogists has added the evidence records of those candidates taking the Civil Service examinations, between 1855 and 1939, to their SoG Data Online. Members of the Society will be able to view the original documents, after logging in, while non-members can search for a name in the collection, but are not able to view the documents.

The records were originally created when candidates for the examinations had to provide proof that they were at least 21 years old. The evidence, which they submitted, very often would have been their birth certificate or sometimes a certified extract from a baptismal register. In some cases these documents were simply not available and so all manner of alternative evidence was produced, such as Indian horoscopes drawn up at a child’s birth.

The SoG says that the geographical spread of the collection is extremely wide with many births recorded from Ireland, the Channel Islands, Malta and Gibraltar plus others for British people who were born all over the world and especially in India.

The surviving documents only include evidence of birth for a small proportion of Civil Servants, some 60,000 people in all. However the collection may provide vital evidence of an ancestor’s birth date that would be difficult or impossible to prove otherwise and so break down a brick wall.

Society of Genealogists
Society of Genealogists –

May edition of Discover Your Ancestors Periodical out!

The May issue of this great online family history magazine is now available!

This month, in the Discover Your Ancestors Periodical, they have articles on:

150 years of the Salvation Army and how to trace Salvationist ancestors entitled The front line of faith written by Nicola Lisle
All the fun of the fair: a preview of the Yorkshire Family History Fair
Before the census: Chris Paton looks at Scottish census and census substitute records before 1841
One-stop shops: Jayne Shrimpton explores the history of department stores and their impact on shoppers and staff
Saving what they could carry: Canada’s Great Fire of 1922
A May to remember: Keith Gregson tells the story of Britain’s worst railway disaster, sidelined by its occurrence during WW1
States of growth: Jill Morris on booming 19th century America
History in the details: Jayne Shrimpton on parasols
Regulars: events / Books / Place in focus: Warwickshire / Classifieds
Visit their website to buy your copy today:

Discover Your Ancestors Periodical

On this day 1st May 1840, the Penny Black Stamp went on sale.

On the first of May 1840 the first British Penny Black stamp went on sale. Invented by Sir Rowland Hill, it was the world’s first adhesive postage stamp and it became valid for postage on 6th May.

The idea of an adhesive stamp, which would indicate pre-payment of postage, was part of Sir Rowland Hill’s proposals in 1837 to reform the British postal system.
Until then our ancestors would pay postage on delivery of their mail.

Another idea that Sir Rowland suggested at a government enquiry on February 13, 1837 was for customers of the service to use a separate sheet that folded to form an enclosure or envelope for carrying letters. At that time postage was charged by the sheet and on the distance travelled.

Penny Black Stamp


New TV series: 24 Hours in the Past

There is a new series on Tuesday night on BBC TV  and on the iPlayer that gives all of us a great insight into a bit of social history. These types of programmes can give us family historians a better understanding of our ancestor’s times and so make more sense of their lives.

24 Hours in the Past is a living reality documentary in which six celebrities travel back in time to the 19th century, spending four full days experiencing the relentless graft of the working poor in Victorian Britain.

Impressionist Alistair McGowan, former minister Ann Widdecombe, actress Zoe Lucker, world champion hurdler Colin Jackson, actor Tyger Drew-Honey and presenter Miquita Oliver are the volunteers, whose first 24 hours lands them in the dustyard, where they have to sift through mountains of dirt, rotting veg and old bones. Presented by Fi Glover, with historian Ruth Goodman.

Godhelmians have their own ancestor website

At last week’s Who Do You Think You Are? Live in among the talks, family history societies, genealogy suppliers and data providers were a delegation from a town council from Surrey that obviously values its history and genealogy.

It would seem that the town of Godalming has launched its own ancestry website at and representatives of the town spoke to our writer and handed us a leaflet that interested us so much that we have decided to mention it here.

Perhaps other towns may like to take a leaf from their book and do something similar? website


Godalming Ancestry seeks to help you find the right path back to your ancestors, to walk where they walked and see the sights they may have seen. It features a surname check where you can find a selection of common Godhelmian names (our favourite at Family History Social is most definitely: Enticknapp).

If you have Godhelmian ancestry then it is worth a look.

With a records search request form online and a downloadable burial records, this Town Council is to be applauded for drawing together this portal that also links to the Godalming Museum, the Library, parish church of St Peter and St Paul, Surrey History Centre, Exploring Surrey’s Past and the West Surrey Family History Society.

Well done Godalming!

Godalming Ancestry
Godalming Ancestry Website at



This video has just gone up online after the fantastic Who Do You Think You Are? Live show last week at the NEC.

It gives a great flavour of the event from vendors of genealogy supplies, the talks that took place, new records from data sites and includes Mark Bayley, from TheGenealogist, talking about the new releases that his research site had launched for the event.

For more see

Who Do You Think You Are? Live show 2015

Three days of brilliant family history talks, expert advice, new records and resources to explore have just finished for this year’s Who Do You Think You Are? Live.

Held at the new venue for the show at the NEC, Birmingham  there was so much more space with wider aisles and the airiness of a more modern venue compared to its old home of Olympia in London.


Many of the visitors to the show seemed happy with the mixture of Genealogical Supplies vendors and Family History Societies on hand, though a few were disappointed to find some FHS from the south-east and also Scotland hadn’t managed to make it to the show this year.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live

The main data subscription sites, however, were there to showcase their various online offerings as was the National Archives, GRO and many more.

Feedback from those visiting seemed to be very positive overall and next year’s dates have now been announced as April 7th-9th 2016 back at the NEC.

Free Sample Article from Discover Your Ancestors Periodical

If you want to unearth those difficult to find ancestors and break down your brick walls, then one way to become more skilled is to read around the subject and learn where to look for your past family and how to use the records that they may be hidden within.

A growing number of in-the-know family historians are turning to the online magazine: Discover Your Ancestors Periodical and this month there is so much packed inside its digital pages:

Horatio’s last words: Explore Nelson’s last will and testament
The Welsh at Work: Emma Jolly follows occupational migrations in and out of Wales in the 18th and 19th centuries
Ancient roots: New DNA research sheds light on our origins
Lost in the war, found in the records: WW1 case study
The jester vs Jerry: How cartoonist Heath Robinson helped with the propaganda war against Germany in WW1
Message to the masses: Jill Morris follows the many journeys of John Wesley as he took Methodism to the people
History in the details: Jayne Shrimpton on umbrellas
Toughs in cuffs: Angela Buckley reveals how you can track down your criminal ancestors – assuming they were caught
Regulars: news + events / Books / Place in focus: Bristol / Classifieds

Even the most “respectable” families may have skeletons in the closet. Finding criminals in your family tree can be exciting and certainly add some colour so if you would like to read a full length Free Sample Article “Toughs in cuffs” taken from this month’s Discover Your Ancestors Periodical head over to their website here:

Discover your Ancestors Periodical 24