Monday, 10 September 2012

National Family History Fair

Chris Paton's audience

On Saturday last I took myself, for the first time, to the National Family History Fair in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the north east of England. For me it was an hour's train journey. The ticket, which I bought in advance on line, said 'a short walk from the station'. Twenty minutes later I found myself at The Premier Inn next to the Laing Art Gallery. As I arrived I bumped into Dr. William Roulston from Ulster who was to give the first of three talks. William is on the staff of the Ulster Historical Society and I recommend his book, Researching Scots-Irish Ancestors, The Essential Genealogical Guide to Early Modern Ulster, 1600-1800

I couldn't attend the first two lectures as I had promised to help on the stall being run by The Guild of One Name Studies. It was interesting to meet the other three members also staffing the event and the constant stream of people with queries about their names. Fortunately we had software available on screen called The British 19th Century Surname Atlas which can display (and print) maps and statistics for any surname or forename which is in the 1881 Census. It's well worth the £15 it costs for the CD. I was particularly pleased to meet one man who commended the talk I gave a couple of years ago in Berwick-upon-Tweed on my own genealogical research.

After grabbing a quick sandwich I did go to the afternoon talk by Chris Paton on Scottish Ancestry. I told Chris that a read his very informative blog called GENES (GEnealogy News and EventS), which is where today I found the photograph above of the audience at his talk, including yours truly on the back row. I'm the handsome one with the beard! As he didn't tell us he was taking it, I'm afraid I haven't asked his permission to reproduce it! Chris was telling us how to Discover Scottish Family History. It was a fascinating and amusing gallop through 29 websites in about 40 minutes to illustrate both the similarities and the differences to researching in other countries. Fortunately he gave us a hand-out with all the URLs listed.

I had time for just one quick walk round all the other exhibitors and was able to introduce myself to the folk from the Northumberland and Durham Family History Society which is based in Newcastle though has branches throughout the two counties. For my sins (as they say) I am the Chairman of the North Northumberland Branch. I look forward to the first talk of the new season next week. It is on Sheep Farming in the Cheviots. But to be honest, the value in belonging is as much for the opportunity to meet others who are just as addicted to the hobby!

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