I am an experienced public speaker, having given talks to various audiences in the UK and the USA. I explain the topics I know about with clarity and rigour, and I am able to adapt my talks to meet the needs and interests of particular audiences. I am listed in the Family History Federation's A-Z of Speakers and on SpeakerNet.
For details of my upcoming talks, see the homepage of this website.
I can offer a broad range of talks about British genealogy and house history. Here are some examples:
The Sands of Time: A Surrey Cottage from 1450 to the Present Day
The village of Limpsfield in Surrey has long been appreciated for its wealth of historic domestic architecture. However, the identities of the people who owned and lived in its houses before the twentieth century have been largely untraced. This talk will explain how I reconstructed the history of a Limpsfield cottage and the land on which it stands, resulting in a revised understanding of its age and the discovery of fascinating information about its owners and residents. The story of one seemingly insignificant cottage gives remarkable insights into the history of south-east England from the medieval era to the present and demonstrates the potential of archival research to shed light on houses across Britain.
Genealogy and Royalty: Tracing Members of the Royal Household and Connections to the British Monarchy
From serving monarchs in a personal capacity to receiving royal pardons, there are numerous ways in which non-royal individuals and families interacted with the British monarchy over the centuries. This talk will explain how genealogists can find connections with royalty using a wealth of archival and online resources. It will include discussion of the copious records of the Royal Household as well as the information that might be discovered in bona vacantia records, official gazettes, court circulars, registers of the chapels royal and the patent rolls. Participation in events such as coronations and royal visits will also be considered.
Lives on the Ocean Wave: Tracing the Careers of British Mariners in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
Discussions of records relating to British merchant seamen tend to focus on those created after the Merchant Seamen Act of 1835. Yet there is a wealth of information regarding mariners in pre-1835 newspapers, shipping registers, borough records and other primary sources. This presentation will describe how I found information about two of my ancestors who were merchant sea captains in King’s Lynn and Whitby respectively during the eighteenth century and reconstructed their careers within the United Kingdom and overseas. It will also offer practical advice about tracing maritime ancestors throughout Britain before and after 1835 using a variety of online and archival sources.
Beyond Parish Registers: Tracing your Anglican Ancestors
The majority of the English population belonged to the Church of England from the Reformation until recent times. However, discussions of the role of religion in family history tend to focus on membership of smaller nonconformist denominations. Hence genealogists can overlook the many ways in which ancestors might have participated in Anglican activity beyond the basic facts of being baptised, married or buried according to Anglican rites. This talk will discuss the varieties of Anglican commitment over the centuries, including confirmation, receiving communion, Anglican schooling, Anglican societies and parochial ministry. It will also offer advice on finding records of such activities in county and diocesan record offices as well as online resources.
Metropolitan Ancestors: Finding Families in Georgian and Victorian London
It can be particularly challenging to locate individuals and families in London when researching family history. This is because of the density of population in the metropolis and the fact that London families often moved between multiple addresses in a relatively short space of time. Given the number of people who migrated to London in the Georgian and Victorian periods, London records often need to compared with those of other parts of the UK and other countries. This talk will discuss the multifarious records that are useful to those tracing London ancestors, including directories, newspapers, court records, insurance records and local history publications. Using relevant and interesting examples from my own ancestry, it will suggest new ways of finding families in London.
Putting your Ancestors on the Map: Finding the Locations of Family Photographs
Those who are fortunate enough to have collections of old family photographs must often wonder where their ancestors were in such pictures, particularly if they were taken outside a studio. This talk will show how it is often possible not only to find information about studio photographers but also to pinpoint the locations of family photographs using a variety of online resources. I will show how I have been able to do this when researching photos of my ancestors and offer advice about how to make similar discoveries. With persistence, it can be possible to put our ancestors on the map, enriching our understanding of their lives.
Getting Started with Family History in the United Kingdom
If you have no experience of genealogical research, you may be wondering about how to get started in the most effective way. This talk will offer practical advice about the first steps that are necessary to find out more about ancestors who lived in the United Kingdom. Collecting information from any living relatives is important, but so too is an approach that is based on facts and evidence as opposed to trusting family stories, however engaging. The usefulness of the 1921 census and 1939 register as a starting point for genealogical enquiry will be discussed, as will the methods of searching civil registration records.
Getting Started with House History in England and Wales
If you have ever wondered who owned and lived in your house in previous centuries, this talk may be of interest. It will show you how to make the first steps on the journey of discovering more about your house and the people associated with it. The talk will include discussion of deeds, census records, taxation records, directories, manorial records, physical evidence, local history publications and the many other sources for tracing house history in England and Wales. House history can be a challenging and time-consuming exercise on account of complex or sparse evidence, but this talk will demonstrate that obstacles can often be overcome. It will draw upon my own experience of problem solving.
To discuss the possibility of arranging a talk, please contact me using the contact form on this website.