Whispers and Secrets, a preview for Secret Lives

I will present “Whispers and Secrets: Women in Property Records of the Manorial Court” on 31 August 2018 at the Secret Lives: Hidden Voices of our Ancestors conference held at Jury’s Inn, Hinckley.  This interview with Helen Tovey of Family Tree Magazine gives a taste of the delightful challenges of manorial records.


Conference tickets are available via the Society of Genealogists.  If you want to hear a host of excellent presentations, make haste before tickets sell out.

Tutoring in Tipperary at the Clans and Surnames Irish Genealogy Program


Lough Derg, near Nenagh, Tipperary


I will spend the next week, the 15 – 19 May 2017, tutoring at the Clans and Surnames Irish Family History Research Program in Nenagh, Tipperary, Ireland.

So, why would an English researcher pay attention to Irish Family History, and what skills do I offer?

The two countries have connections going back many centuries.  The complex and often difficult relationship between England and Ireland has been marked by conquests and rebellions, most notably in Norman, Tudor, Stuart periods (from my English viewpoint), with the whole of Ireland under English rule between 1801 and 1922.  In consequence, records of Irish people are in English archives and vice versa.

Comparison of how two countries deal with common issues is a fruitful way of understanding the administrative and legal systems of both countries.  My particular interest in land and property records is about to be expanded, and I am sure I can offer insights to attendees.

Research methods and skills are not restricted to any one location.  My higher education has prepared me to apply a broad range of techniques to genealogical research problems.

Most of all, I anticipate an adventure!

It’s time for WDYTYA?Live 2017

With so many options of workshops and talks happening this year at Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE, I put them into a Google calendar to help plan my time. The data comes from the official website, with a few extra mini-talks on stand no 2, the Register of Qualified Genealogists, added. In previous years, other exhibitors like FindMyPast, FamilySearch and The National Archives have had presentations, but these are not publicised so I can’t include them on my calendar.

I colour coded events according to workshop programme and cost. Purple entries are the Society of Genealogist Workshops in theatres 1, 2 and 3, which cost £3 on the day. Green are the free SOG Wokshops in the Education Zone. Turquiose are The Genealogist workshops, yellow are the Family Tree DNA workshops, and pink are the Register of Qualified Genealogists mini-talks.  It looks like this from my google account:


Here is the embeded calendar, which looses my colour coding.

Alternatively you can download the calendar to any application that accepts the ical format.  Please feel free to experiment.

In Google calendar I can add meetings with colleagues, highlight which talks I want to attend and set reminders.

My calendar will not adapt to any changes in schedule, as I will be busy at the show.  Would you like the show organisers to provide the data for download into your choice of software?

My personal contributions will be as one of the ‘Ask the Experts’ on Thursday 6 April between 12 pm and 2 pm, and a 10 minute mini-talk entitled ‘Cracking the Code – Old Handwriting Deciphered’ on the Register of Qualified Genealogists stand on Saturday 8 April at 11 am.

Can you read this word?


This image is an extract from a property deed dated 1769.  Can you read this word?

Some letters are familiar, so start with them.  Which letters can you make out? My guess is p, a and s are easy enough.


Maybe you can see the g as well.


There is an e in there, but it isn’t quite the same as we write nowadays.


The two remaining letters are different forms of the same letter.  You have already read a third form of the letter. The letter is s. See it now?


I will be exhibiting this deed at the Cambridgeshire Family and Local History Fair this Saturday (22 October 2016) at Girton Glebe Primary School, Girton, Cambridge, CB3 0PN from 10am to 4pm.  Come along and find out more about reading old handwriting.





Cracking the Code – Old Handwriting Deciphered

Over the last few weeks I’ve reminded you that the Suffolk Family History Fair will come to The Suffolk University, Waterfront Building Neptune Quay, Ipswich IP4 1QJ on 24 September 2016.


Family Folk will be there.  The 3 items shown above are connected to the theme of this year’s exhibit: Old Handwriting Deciphered.  Come along and find out what the connections are.

Carbon copies and DNA


The Human Genome Project completed mapping the DNA sequence that contains all the information needed to build a human body in 2003.  Since then, DNA testing has come within the reach of family historians, requiring just a sample of body cells.

The DNA molecule is made up of two strands of complimentary base pairs that fit together like a zip. DNA is replicated by unzipping its two strands and making a new partner strand for each original strand, producing an indentical copy.  The instructions contained in the sequence of base pairs are copied much like carbon paper can replicate a list of names.  Mutations happened when the copying process is not perfect.

DNA is not kept as a simple string within our cells.  It is packaged up into chromosomes and each package keeps a selection of instructions together, a bit like binding the pages of a book.

When ordinary body cells divide to produce 2 new cells, two sets of complete chromosomes are copied to each cell, a process called mitosis. The book analogy is that each cell gets a complete book with identical pages.

Making a new person is a little more complicated than growing and dividing ordinary cells.  When egg and sperm cells are created, through a process called meiosis, only half of the DNA goes to each cell. The process is complicated further, with mixing of parts of the DNA.  Each human embryo, made by combining an egg and sperm, gets half of it’s DNA from each parent, in a unique mix.  Using the book analogy again pages are swapped between books.

Understanding these processes is critical to interpreting DNA test results.  Dr Maurice Gleeson will explain how DNA test results can assist family history research at the Suffolk Family History Fair on 24 September.  See you there?

Growing Roots, or what my grandmother taught me


My gran taught me to crochet when I was a teenager.  While wielding her crochet hook, she talked about her youth, siblings, growing up in Birmingham between the 1910s and 1930s, and the courtship on a tandem that lead to her marrying grandad.  That started the growth of my family history roots.  This year the Suffolk Family History Fair theme is Grow Your Roots.  See you in Ipswich on 24 September 2016?

Suffolk Family History Fair – 24 September 2016

Family Folk will return to Ipswich for the Suffolk Family History Fair on 24 September.  Hold the date, and watch this space for further annoucements.  In the meantime, this image is a teaser for what Family Folk will be up to.


Talking of Maps

Last month I presented a talk entitled ‘How maps were made and why it matters to family historians’ at the Bury St Edmunds group of the Suffolk Family History Society.  Online maps are becoming ever more common as technology makes the process easier.  A map is only as good as the data it draws on, so beware.

The example discussed in Lost in 1939 – The Misleading Map contains both good and bad data in FindMyPast’s maps linked to the 1939 Register.  The difference between where roads in the QBEZ enumeration district actually are and where FindMyPast puts them is show in this Google Map:


© Sue Adams 2016


Fun at the Fair – Hero or Rogue?

Family Folk presents a bit of fun at the Suffolk Family History Fair this Saturday, the 17 October 2015 at University Campus Suffolk, Waterfront Building, Neptune Quay, Ipswich IP4 1QJ (Click here for a map).

Join the jury and vote on whether these two chaps were heroes or rogues.  Come along and examine the evidence.