Conference Programme

Demolishing Brick Walls is a one-day Conference with a full programme of exciting and interesting topics to help you make a break through with your own family history research.

Friday 16th September 2016

Afternoon – Registration

Dinner – Held in the beautiful 16th century St John’s College Hall.  Our after dinner speaker will be Sarah Williams, Editor of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine.

Overnight accommodation in single or twin rooms is available.

Saturday 17th September 2016

Conference Chairman – Patric Dickinson, Clarenceux King of Arms

9.00am – Welcome and Reception

9.30am – John Titford
Barking up the Wrong Tree

A series of cautionary tales for family historians, each designed to show how easy it is to make wrong assumptions or to draw inaccurate conclusions. The examples featured here will be based upon the presenter’s experience as a professional genealogist working for clients on both sides of the Atlantic.

10.20am – William Spencer
Never Too Old and Other Stories

For the First World War period alone, there are over 20 different records series in the National Archives, which contain what are described as records of service. This presentation will discuss a number of cases studies based upon the records of service of the 19th and 20th centuries and how the stumbling blocks they initially posed were over come and the stories revealed.

11.10am – Refreshment Break

11.30am – Rebecca Probert
The Rise and Fall of the Crime of Bigamy

Today bigamy is one of the rarest of crimes, with only a handful of prosecutions each year. But at its peak there were approaching 1,000 cases in a single year. So what factors led to this rise and fall, and what does the evidence tell us about marriage, separation and illicit relationships in past centuries? And in what circumstances would an individual risk being prosecuted for bigamy? Drawing on thousands of cases, from the Old Bailey to magistrates’ courts, this presentation provides new research findings on the nature and extent of bigamy and remarriage in past centuries and decades to help family historians interpret their ancestors’ lives.
12.20pm – Lunch

13.30pm – Colin Chapman
Using pre-1841 Censuses to break down a Brickwall

Long before the 1841 census, names, ages, occupations, addresses and birthplaces of individuals were recorded by various authorities and organisations for specific purposes. Such data may provide that vital clue to help break down a brickwall in your genealogical research. The presentation gives many examples throughout the British Isles of this data.

14.20pm – A choice of Workshops:

a) Debbie Kennett
DNA demystified DNA testing is an increasingly valuable tool for the family historian, and it is important that genealogists have an understanding of the different types of tests and what the results actually mean. This workshop will provide a practical guide to the application of DNA testing for family history research.Participants will have the chance to ask questions from one of the UK’s leading experts in genetic genealogy.

b) Eric Probert
Business Records for Family History
The workshop will consider the potential information on our ancestors that may exist in the records of companies and businesses. Ways of finding out about the existence of businesses from the 19th Century onwards are discussed, the means of locating where surviving records have been deposited are explored and major repositories for business records identified. Examples of informative records are presented from online internet sources, libraries and archives. There will be a Question and Answer Session.

c) Problem solving with AGRA member panel – Your chance to get answers to those difficult research problems.

15.40pm – Helen Osborn
What is Proof in Genealogy?

This talk will aim to bring the strands from the conference together by examining the concept of ‘proof’ in genealogy. It will show how errors can be eliminated and brickwalls demolished when standards of proof are applied, and discusses methods and techniques for testing events and ‘facts’ from family history. It will examine how some common sources are misleading unless used with care and why it is important to understand the differences between the different kinds of primary, secondary and derivative evidence we use and how this understanding can provide those vital breakthroughs that we all seek.

17.00 – Conference Chair Concluding Remarks