I’ve always been interested in history since childhood and loved hearing stories of family from my grandmother. She used to recite a rhyme to me of her ancestors going back several generations and I wish I had paid more attention, as it would have been helpful when it came to researching them. However so far I have a few generations, Pilbeam, Terry, Payne, Faulkner, Fowler….
What really started me off in genealogy was almost 20 years ago my brother brought my grandfather’s house and we found the old family bible. Inside my grandmother had left some tantalising clues to our ancestry, some death dates of her grandparents – people I had never heard of. So I decided it was about time to go and find out who these people had been. It was at the point that the 1901 census had just been published online and my first searches proved fairly easy which got me really interested.
What are your specialist areas of interest and why have you chosen them?
Round about 80% of my ancestry tree comes from this corner of England, Sussex, Kent and Surrey, many of the families based in a small number of villages for hundreds of years. I have become very interested in the local and social history of this area, particularly Sussex where I live and have a growing library of second hand and new books about the history of many of the places that my family came from. A number of my clients have been from the same area and I am able to share my knowledge of the local history as well as my findings into their family.
I have just recently finished a job for a client who asked me to transcribe a number of old documents that she had acquired, mainly mortgage deeds and wills and this is an area of my work that I get a great deal of satisfaction from. The dissertation for my Masters included a number of days transcribing old deeds and wills from the early 1600s and I discovered there is nothing like the crackle and smell of old parchment!
Your most exciting discovery, either personal or professional
Where do I start? Every discovery seems exciting but there are a couple that stand out for me from my tree. Firstly I discovered quite early on in my family research that my x3 great grandfather was born in Cork, Ireland. I had never been given any indications that we had irish roots. I managed to find his parents who appeared to have emigrated over to London in the early 1820s. Everytime a new set of records appear online I am able to discover a little more of his story.
I have a x3 great grandmother who, on most Ancestry trees has the wrong father. The father’s name she put on her marriage certificate never existed. I eventually found her baptism on the non conformist register and no father is mentioned. I eventually found that her mother’s husband had been transported to Australia some 15 years previously. Unpicking that was very exciting and rewarding to find the truth in the end.
A typical day’s work.
For me, I don’t have a typical day’s work which I love. I have in effect, 2 jobs at the moment, one is providing admin for a disabled children’s community organisation and the other is building up my genealogy research business. I really enjoy that because having an income coming in from the first job means that when I am not doing a research job for a client I have time and the opportunity to keep learning about research, whether that is watching a webinar, reading a book or researching a topic I am interested in such as the Wealden Iron Industry of the 15 and 1600s (the subject of my Masters dissertation).