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Welcome to the May 2014 Edition of the FFHS Ezine                                                          No 46

Society Spotlight: Devon Family History Society

Oxfordshire FHS wins Prestigious Award

WAGS wins Prestigious Award

FFHS Welcomes New Trustees

Alberta Family Histories Society

Gloucestershire FHS Fair

Northamptonshire FHS Conference

Pip, Squeak and Wilfred – the record legacy of 1914-1918

Essex Society for Family History Weekend Conference

This Month's Book Giveaways

Wedding Dresses 1775 – 2014

Offer from Discover Your Ancestors

Royal Horticultural Society

Last Post: Remembering the First World War


British History Timeline

Nursing Records


Book Reviews

Diary Dates

Advertise with us

Competition Winners

Society Spotlight

Devon Family History Society

Devon FHS LogoIn 1801 Devon's total population was 343,001; in 1901 it had almost doubled to 662,196 and it is now over one million so it is hardly surprising that Devon FHS  can boast the largest county family history society membership. Farming, fishing and mining were the major occupations, plus the naval base in Stoke Damerel (Devonport), which was one of the largest parishes by population in the 19th century.  In 1871, 49,449 inhabitants (in 10,903 families) lived in 4,269 houses. Add in nearby Plymouth, with its parishes of Charles and St Andrew, plus East Stonehouse, that's 135,000 souls.  Devon is the third largest English county. Search here if you have lost an ancestor! 

New members receive the quarterly Devon Family Historian, a copy of "Searching for Devon Ancestors", a Publications CD and an A3 Parish Map to help locate Devon roots amongst the 500+ parishes.  Members can enter up to 50 surname interests in the Members' Area and access a growing number of names, plus items photographed by Devon FHS, as one of its services to individual members and to local record offices, museums, groups and societies.  To find out details of membership and how to join please visit our website. Publications may be ordered online as well as by post. Our latest Deanery CD (the 20th for Devon) is Chulmleigh, to be launched at the Summer Special in Torquay on 12 July 2014. The Society’s Research Centre and Record Office Service Point is Tree House  in Exeter, with a research service offered for those unable to visit.

Baptisms 1813-1839, Marriages 1754-1837 and Burials 1813-1837 transcriptions are available on Devon FHS Acorn Club Logofindmypast.co.uk with a surname printout service also available via the Society’s website - check the names on our Surnames page. Devon FHS has an active project programme, working in partnership with the three Record Offices and concentrating on photographing and transcribing lesser known sources. A new service to photograph/transcribe local councils’ cemetery records is proving popular. The Acorn Club is aimed at interesting young people in their family history. Please feel free to use some of the ideas, to help your young students and relatives in bringing their families “to life”.  Please visit our website for more information.

Oxfordshire Family History Society wins the Elizabeth Simpson Award

Oxfordshire FHS has been announced as winners of the Elizabeth Simpson Award 2013. The award was introduced by the FFHS in 1979 and is presented annually to the society whose journal has, in the opinion of the judges, made the best contribution to family history during the preceding twelve months. The winning Editor, Sue Honoré, was surprised and delighted to win the award and said “ As with all FHSs, we are a group of volunteers, so it’s very welcoming to have recognition for the whole team” The edition submitted for the award was the first that Sue had edited since becoming Editor of the Oxfordshire Family Historian.  The award is sponsored by Immediate Media publishers of WhoDoYouThinkYouAre? magazine. Sue received an annual subscription to the magazine as well as a certificate and trophy. The society received £250. A taster of the society’s journal can be viewed on their websiteNorthamptonshire FHS were the winners in the Medium Society category and the Cave FHS were winners in the Small Society Category.

Western Australia Genealogical Society (WAGS) wins the Geoff Riggs Award
Chris Loudon Webmaster WAGS Overall winners of the Geoff Riggs Award

WAGS have been announced as winners of the Geoff Riggs Award. The FFHS has been awarding the accolade of 'Best website' since 2001 to a member society and sees it as an annual opportunity to judge those websites entered for the award against specified criteria, thus creating a 'benchmark' with the aim of improving the overall quality of genealogy and family history society websites.  Chris Loudon webmaster for WAGS said he was delighted and humbled to receive the award which is sponsored by ABM Publishing, publishers of Family Tree magazine.  Coverage of the award is featured in the June issue of Family Tree.   Visit the WAGS website to read about the activities of the society as well as their ongoing project work including ‘The Gallipoli Dead of Western Australia’. The Irish Genealogical Society won the medium society category and Malvern FHS won the small society category.

FFHS Welcomes New TrusteesFFHS Logo

The FFHS is delighted to welcome two new trustees. Eric Jackson who is the Secretary of Pontefract & District FHS and Steve Manning, the Chairman of Peterborough & District FHS both of whom were co-opted to the board at an FFHS Executive Committee meeting held on 12 April 2014.  Marian French who served on the Board for eight years stood down as trustee at the Annual General Meeting of the FFHS held on 22 March 2014. David Holman, Chairman, expressed appreciation to Marian French, for her eight years of service on the Charity Executive. Marian has made many contributions to the Federation’s activities and we wish her well in the future.

Alberta Family Histories Society

On 5 April 2014 the Alberta Family Histories Society hosted a one day conference sponsored by the FFHS as part of our 40th Anniversary. President of the society, Dawn Turner said "we hosted renowned speaker Dave Obee, who spoke about genealogical research in Canada. There was a good turnout of registrants and several vendor tables and the mood was one of interest and excitement. Dave is a master of engaging and informing his audiences and he did not disappoint. Networking opportunities abounded and we recruited some new members and even a volunteer or two. Feedback has been nothing but positive and even the vendors left at the end of the day very tired but happy". The society said they would like to "sincerely thank the FFHS for conceiving and administering this Sponsorship Grant Programme - a perfect way to celebrate the 40th Anniversary". You can view their website here. The following family history events have been sponsored by the FFHS as part of our 40th Anniversary:

Gloucestershire Family History Society is holding a Family History Fair at Gloucester Rugby Club, Gloucester, on Saturday 31 May 2014 10.00am – 4.00pm. Free on site car parking. The venue is a 10 minute walk from Gloucester Bus and Railway Stations. This fair is being sponsored by the FFHS to celebrate its 40th Anniversary Find out more on the website.

Northamptonshire FHS Conference
Northamptonshire FHS is holding a one day conference on Saturday 31 May 2014 (9.00am-4.30pm) at North Pavilion, Wicksteed Park, Kettering. This event is being sponsored by the FFHS to celebrate its 40th Anniversary.  For details and booking please visit the website.

Medal from the Europeana 1914-1918 collection

Medals from the Europeana 1914-1918 collection

Pip, Squeak and Wilfred – the record legacy of 1914-1918
On Saturday 28 June 2014 Oxfordshire FHS are holding a one day conference at the Marlborough School, Woodstock, Oxfordshire.  For just £10 per person there are five good talks by five good speakers as well as displays to keep you busy through the breaks. The day is being jointly sponsored by Oxfordshire FHS and the Federation of Family History Societies as part of the 40th Anniversary sponsorship programme. There is tea and coffee during the day but please bring your own lunch. Please note that there are no options to buy lunch close to the venue.  For information or to book please visit the website.

Medal images are from the Europeana 1914-1918 collection.

Essex Society for Family History is holding a History Weekend and Conference, from Friday 29 August to Sunday 31 August 2014. This will celebrate the 40th anniversaries of both the FFHS and Essex Society for Family History, the 25th anniversary of the East Anglian Group and also commemorate the start of the Great War.  An exciting programme of at least two streams of talks and 16 speakers have already been booked.  For further information or to book please contact Heather Feather by email: events@esfh.org.uk or download a booking form from the website.

WW1 image of Peace & Goodwill

This Month's Book Giveaways

The Sinking of RMS Tayleur – The Lost Story of the Victorian Titanic
It is 160 years since RMS Tayleur sank in tragic circumstances.  The ship left Liverpool on 19 January 1854 bound for Australia on her maiden voyage and was packed with hopeful emigrants and her hold stuffed with cargo. The author of ‘The Sinking of RMS Tayleur – The Lost Story of the Victorian Titanic’,Gill Hoffs,reveals new theories behind the disaster and tells the stories of the passengers and crew on their ill-fated voyage. To enter the draw for this book, kindly donated by Pen & Sword please send an email with ‘Sinking’ in the subject line to competitions@ffhs.org.uk before 20 June 2014. You can purchase a copy from the Pen & Sword website.

The Sinking of RMS Tayleur book cover

Breach of Promise to Marry book cover

Our second book giveaway is ‘Breach of Promise to Marry – A History of How Jilted Brides Settled Scores’ by Denise Bates has been donated by Pen & Sword. ‘While Dicken’s embittered spinster Miss Havisham stopped all her clocks on her wedding day and ‘never since looked upon the light of day’, the reality was much brighter for thousands of jilted women. The real Miss Havishams didn’t mope in faded wedding finery – they hired lawyers and struck the first ‘no win, no fee’ deals to sue for breach of promise. From the 1790s right up to the 1960s, jilted women (and sometimes rejected suitors) employed a range of tactics to bring false lovers to book. Denise Bates uncovers over 1,000 forgotten cases of women who found very different endings to their fictional counterparts’.  To enter the draw for this book, please send an email with ‘Jilted’ in the subject line to competitions@ffhs.org.uk before 20 June 2014. To order a copy of the book, please go to the website.

Wedding Dresses 1775 – 2014

This month sees the opening of a new exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum (May 2014 – 15 May 2015). The exhibition traces the development of the fashionable white wedding dress and its treatment by leading fashion designers giving a panorama of fashion over the last two centuries.  Queen Victoria helped to popularise the fashion for white when she married in 1840.  The exhibition will highlight the histories of the dresses, revealing fascinating details about the lives of the wearers and offer an intimate insight into their circumstances and fashion choices.  Visit the website to find out more.

Print+Digital Offer from Discover Your Ancestors

Let us help us with family history research in 2014 with a FREE sample subscription to the newest and most exciting digital magazine for family historians to everyone who applies between now and 10 June 2014. To receive your FREE 3-issue subscription (worth £4.47 if purchased as back issues) simply email: subs@discoveryourancestors.co.uk and insert FFHS14M in the subject line and we will set up your FREE 3-issue subscription immediately (May, June, July 2013 issues).

Discover Your Ancestors cover

Royal Horticultural Society

With warmer weather, garden centres tempting us with summer bedding and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show taking place this month (20-24 May) we contacted Liz Taylor, recently appointed Archivist for the RHS to pose a few questions. We asked Liz whether the RHS have any 'name rich' archives which may be of interest to family historians, this is what she said:

“We do indeed have some name-rich archives, particularly those which include significant amounts of correspondence. Since the RHS appointed an archivist last year, we have started cataloguing, packaging and making descriptive catalogues of archives available on-line via the Archives Hub. So far we have three archive catalogues on the Archives Hub. The archive of William Robinson has about 150 names in it, the other two have fewer names. They can be accessed and searched here.

I am currently working on a much larger archive, of plantsman, E.A. Bowles of Myddelton House, Enfield. This won’t be released much before next year, but I have volunteers extracting the names, addresses and dates of thousands of letters in that archive. These will be included in the descriptive catalogue.  In due course other material containing names will be released, such as a register of 19th-century RHS employees and an early 20th-century register of plants sold to named customers by H.C. Baker, nurseryman of Bristol. We are not looking at hundreds of thousands of names in one fell swoop, and this is small fry compared say to parish registers, but over time the body of names in the archives held by the RHS and searchable on-line will grow."

Mediterranean mail storage section at the Home Depot. POST 56/6. Copyright:  BPMA Last Post: Remembering the First World War

To mark the centenary of the First World War the British Postal Museum Archives have a flagship exhibition at Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron. Last Post: Remembering the First World War explores the effect of the events of 1914-18 on the Post Office and its people and the contribution of postal communications to the war effort.  For those unable to visit the exhibition in person, the BPMA has launched a simultaneous online exhibition in partnership with the Google Cultural Institute. Image: copyright BPMA.

Do you have someone special in your family tree who served with the armed forces during the First World War?

Maybe they served with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and landed at Gallipoli together with troops from New Zealand, Britain, and France or maybe they were a citizen from another country and fought for that country. Perhaps they were decorated and their medal/s are still in your family today or maybe they were an unsung hero. Did their letters home survive and are now a special part of your family archive? Did they pay the ultimate sacrifice or did they return home to their loved ones?  Whatever their story we would like to hear it.

The deadline for submission of entries for the competition in our Australasian really useful information leaflet is 30 June 2014. If you haven’t already submitted your entry, make sure you don’t miss the deadline!  All entries must be accompanied by a completed Entry Form which can be found on the website.  Entries can be submitted electronically and sent to admin@ffhs.org.uk with ‘COMPETITION’ as the subject heading or by post to:  AFFHO, PO Box 3012, Weston Creek, ACT 2611, Australia. There are some great prizes on offer!  You can download a copy of our Australasian really useful information leaflet here.  NB Please note that the prizes offered are aimed at those researching their Australasian ancestors.

British History Timeline

Why not take a look at the BBC British History Timeline? Find out about events that shaped history and consider how they might have affected or influenced the lives of your ancestors. Investigate new areas of research that might expand your family history. On 1 May 1851 the Great Exhibition opened at Crystal Palace, Hyde Park, London. The exhibition which was the brainchild of Prince Albert showcased the world's most advanced inventions, manufactures and works of art. The five month long exhibition is said to have attracted almost six million visitors. Perhaps your ancestors were among those ordinary people who travelled to London for the first time on cheap-rate excursion trains.

Nursing Records

A British Red Cross nurse. Ministry of Information First World War Official CollectionHave you watched the BBC drama series The Crimson Field? If you would like to find out more about nursing during the First World War you can visit the BBC website. If you have not had the opportunity to watch the drama previous episodes are available on BBC iPlayer.  A Useful fact sheet ‘Looking for records of a British Army Nurse’ is available via The National Archives website. There are over 15,000 First World War service records for nurses, in series WO 399, who served in the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service, the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (Reserve) and the Territorial Force Nursing Service during the First World War. It is possible to search and download the service records (WO 399) at a cost of £3.50.


To accompany the series The Crimson Field, the British Red Cross is sharing some of the best First World War stories, letters and diaries from their archives on their blog. Amongst other things, read about how the Red Cross volunteers wrote letters home for injured soldiers who were unable to do so for themselves.  You can find out more on the website.


The FFHS Ezine has a current readership of approximately 14,000 worldwide. To discuss sponsorship or advertising, please email Samantha Bourne Ezine Editor

Book Reviews

To read reviews of recently published books of interest to family historians

visit our Book Review Page

Ezine Competitions and Winners

All competitions are subject to our Terms & Conditions as published on our website

A full list of Ezine competition winners can be seen on the FFHS website

view competition winners

Diary Dates

For a list of events visit our Events Page on our website and GENEVA

Sheffield & District FHS Family History Fair, Hillsborough, Sheffield, 31 May 2014
Huntingdonshire FHS Exhibition to Commemorate World War One, Huntingdon, 7 June 2014
Shropshire FHS Open Day & Fair, Shrewsbury,7 June 2014
Northumberland & Durham FHS WW1 and the People of the North East Conference, Gateshead,16 June 2014
Wiltshire FHS Family History Day, Trowbridge, 21 June 2014
The Yorkshire Family History Fair, York, 28 June 2014
Montgomeryshire Genealogical Society Family History Open Morning, Abertridwr Nr. Lake Vyrnwy, 28 June 2014