Talk Success!

Thank you to everyone that came to my talk last night in the Events Suite at the Hereford Campus, Folly Lane, covering an Introduction to Family History. It attracted approximately 40 people, keen to either start or develop their own family histories.

Many thanks also to Herefordshire Family History Society who came with their stall to spread the news about Herefordshire’s vibrant genealogy community.

If you couldn’t make it last night but would like a copy of the presentation, please email me.

Feedback from the event:

“I just wanted to say thank you for your wonderful presentation. I’ve talked about it/ you all day. I’m so glad I came along.”


No Paying to Access County Archives

There has  been a disturbing new development from Northamptonshire Archives which is  planning to charge £31.50 per hour to access their archives. This price is just to visit the archives and conduct your own research.

Free access to the archives will be limited to a mere 12 hours per week.

This will have a massive impact on the way that we use the archives either as amateur family historians or as professionals.

  • Access to the free slots will be highly contended which will put people off in the long term and make them more reliant on online sources.  This reduction in visitors would then provide a rationale for further cuts in the archives service.


  • Genealogy will become a hobby from which people are excluded due to the cost.  Finding the correct record you need is rarely a straightforward process and so you will incur major costs.


  • Hiring a professional researcher will also beome cost prohibitive if they have to add the cost of accessing the archives onto their hourly rate.


  • There should be the right to access freely the documents that record our lives and those of our ancestors and members of our local community.  Local history would also struggle with limited access to archives and we would miss out on the rich tapestry of information that they have to offer.


A petition opposing the plans and calling for a rethink has been set up by Dr. Mary Ann Lund from the University of Leicester. If you do one thing today, please seriously consider signing the petition – it is available at

Introduction to Post Medieval Deeds

After recently completeing an online course with Pharos Tutors on Deeds and Disputes with Susan Moore, I have written an Introduction to post Medieval deeds.

Deeds are some of the most widely available and useful records held in archives.  Some can even date back as far as the 12th century.[i]  They are, however, often neglected partly because the legal language can be difficult to understand and partly due to the fact that before 1733 they were written in Latin.

Deeds are legal documents which are concerned with the ownership or possession of property, usually land or houses but can also include marriage settlements and mortgages.  You might be tempted to think that your ancestors would not have been rich enough to own property but even people of the most humble origin would have a little land such as a cottage and a field  and many people would have leased such property.  Even yeoman farmers might rent their farms for generations.[ii]

To read the rest of the article, email me and I will send you it in pdf format


[i] Durie. P. 239

[ii] Alcock. P. 20

Poor Relief Records

Want to find out more about using Poor Relief Records in England before 1834?

Then email me for a copy of my latest article.

Here is the first parargraph:

Parish records do not consist solely of registers of baptisms, marriages and burials.  There is a wealth of information that can be gleaned from the documents used by the parishes to administer themselves efficiently.  In this article I will briefly touch upon the work of the parish and then concentrate on how documents relating to poor relief can be invaluable when researching your ancestors.

Records of UK Civil Internment in WWII

Last night I attended a webinar held by The National Archives on civil internment during World War 2.  Recently, in collaboration with FindmyPast, the archives have digitised and released their collection so it is much easier to discover more about any relatives that may be involved.  133,908 people from World War Two are included.

Enemy Aliens were people who were born in or had family connections to those countries that were allied against Britain in World War 2.  These included people from Germany, Italy, Japan, Austria, Finland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and more.  British women who had married men from these countries were also classed as enemy aliens.

120 tribunals took place across the UK, with 11 in North West London alone.  They were usually headed by judges, magistrates or other prominent members of the community.  Individuals were interviewed and then classed as one of three categories:

Category A                They would be interned in a camp

Category B                They would not be interned but special restrictions would be placed.

Category C                No internment and no restrictions.

The typical tribunal index card produced for enemy aliens contains the following information:

Full name

Place and date of birth


Police card reg. number.  All aliens had to register with their local police force and were issued a card.  Many do not survive but if they do they will be held at local records offices or police archives.  TNA has cards for the London Metropolitan area.

Home Office reference number.  This can be really important as it will link to their Home Office file which has more information on the individual.  If you have a reference then type it into in the National Archives catalogue search and any records surviving will be listed.



Name and address of employer

Decision of tribunal and date

The back of the card explains reasons for the decision, which camp they were sent too and other details such as family background.  This is usually closed until 100 years after they were discharged as enemy aliens.  This can be as late as 1959.  If the person is deceased, you can however make a Freedom of Information request to have it opened.