Chance to unearth all about your family tree

Wendy Archer, chairman of the Oxfordshire Family History Society

Wendy Archer, chairman of the Oxfordshire Family History Society

First published in News

WAS your grandfather a war hero? Or perhaps David Cameron is your second cousin twice removed?

The Oxfordshire Family History Society has all the tools to help you uncover your family’s hidden history.

And members are holding an open day today, with a number of visiting societies and history experts on hand to help get you started on researching your family tree.

Consultations on family histories will be on offer, and there will be demonstrations of computer software that can trace genealogy.

Open day organiser Jenny Lee, 62, from Whitecross near Abingdon, has researched her husband’s family back to the early 17th century.

She said: “There are so many resources out there and it really gets you going.

“It is addictive and once you get going you cannot stop.”

She has traced her husband’s family history back to plantation managers and vicars in Barbados.

She and husband Tony went out to the West Indies in 2007 to find out more.

She said: “We understood the church where my husband’s great grandfather had been a priest had been destroyed in a hurricane, but when we went there it was still a living church.

“We went to a service and the priest took us into the vestry, and there was a composite picture of photos of my husband’s great-grandfather, his father and his father-in-law, who was the first vicar at the church.

“It was really exciting to find that. It is a bit like a detective story, and if you get stuck on one branch you can have a go in another branch.”

Mrs Lee has also researched her own family back to the early 19th century and discovered her maternal grandmother had been brought up by Dr Thomas Barnardo in the early 1900s after her father became seriously ill and her mother had to find work.

Oxfordshire Family History Society chairman Wendy Archer said: “We are all family history addicts. We love the challenge of the hobby and we are very keen to use our knowledge to help others.

“It is a fascinating hobby because as you go back you never know what you will find – who your ancestors were, where they came from.

“They may have had the same occupation as you, which will give you an extra connection.

“The fun is in doing it yourself, and becoming a detective.”

The annual open day runs at The Marlborough School, Woodstock, from 10am to 4pm. Now in its fourth year, the event brings together more than 40 stallholders, including museums, archaeological and genealogical societies, second hand book dealers and librarians.

This year they also have an expert in wills, who will be offering to decipher illegible cursive written with pen and ink, or faded and crumpled documents.

For more information about the society contact Mrs Lee on 01235 799374 or see the website ofhs.org.uk

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