A newsletter for the Sussex Family History Group

Wyn’s surprise Knight

When she was Membership Secretary, Wyn Burgess had cause to speak by telephone with Sir Donald Sinden – and we couldn’t stop her eulogising about his mellifluous tones ever since! So a plan was secretly hatched to invite Sir Donald to make a presentation to Wyn to mark her retirement as Membership Secretary, as well as a presentation to Brian Cutler, our retiring Chairman.

Sir Donald Sinden, of stage, film and television fame, is an SFHG member and a keen genealogist of long-standing. Indeed genealogy (as well as serendipity!) is included in his hobbies listed in his entry in Who’s Who. Unfortunately Sir Donald was out of the country on the day of the Conference and AGM, so he was invited to meet with the executive committee at West Blatchington windmill the following week.

It was certainly a big surprise for Wyn as realisation dawned upon her who it was entering the room. Sir Donald presented scrolls to both Wyn and Brian as mementoes of their time in office. The executive committee plus special guest then enjoyed (at their own expense) a very pleasant lunch together – Sir Donald keeping everyone entertained with many anecdotes and amusing tales.

Embellishing the Picture

This was the title of the Annual Conference which, as trailed, had the twin themes of local history and medical matters. The former was kicked off by Malcolm Pratt with his brief history of the ancient town of Winchelsea, together with some fascinating anecdotes on some of the town’s characters. During the extended lunch break there was ample time to sample the wares displayed by around 20 local history societies, and other exhibitors. Lecture two, on mortality and family history in the 16th-19th centuries, was given by Peter Razzell. This introduced us to some of the uses of genealogical data in the study of demography. Then (probably just as well it was after lunch!) the Timespan duo of Tony and Lizzie Gilks ‘entertained’ us with their presentation: “Sawbones, Quacks or Inventive Surgeons”.

Over 170 members and friends attended the conference. Much conferring went on during the day and it was clearly a great opportunity to meet old and new acquaintances. Many thanks to all those involved, and especially to Clem Frank who co-ordinated the whole shebang.

As customary, the following AGM received the Chairman’s report and adopted the Annual Report and Accounts. This was Brian Cutler’s finalé as Chairman and he was thanked with acclamation. In his stead Mick Richardson was elected as Chairman. Mick Henry, Val Orr and Judy Pepper were re-elected as Vice Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer respectively. Wyn Burgess, John Commins, Wendy Deamer, Clem Frank, Trevor Hanson, Terry Kettell and Mike Morley were re-elected as committee members.

The next Annual Conference and AGM will be held on Saturday 12 April 2008. Make a note in your diary.

Can you help?

 In order to maintain our presence at family history fairs and open days we really need some more people willing to help run stalls at such events in Sussex or further afield. These are an opportunity for us to ‘fly the flag’ as well as to sell our publications. Also needed is someone to organise the booking of SFHG stands. If you can help, please contact Joe Bysh. @

 Ken Toll has indicated that he will be stepping down as the chairman and organiser for the Crawley Computer Group at their AGM in July. Could anyone interested in helping Crawley to organise future lectures & activities please make contact with Ken. @

 Extra help is urgently needed to enable the SFHG Library to continue to function efficiently. As you may have read previously, it is hoped to extend the all-day opening of the library to every Saturday. However we do need to recruit more volunteer helpers before we can do this. For further details of what is involved, please get in touch with Rosemary Appleton. @

Elizabeth Simpson

Elizabeth Simpson, a one-time SFHG member and one of the founders of the Federation of Family History Societies some 33 years ago, died at the end of January.

Elizabeth remained a prominent, active and supportive figure, and she was a vice-president of the FFHS. Her name will live on through the Elizabeth Simpson Award, which she initiated in 1979 as an annual award for the best family history society journal.

Read a full tribute here.

The UK’s largest ever history show

Who Do You Think You Are? Live (incorporating the Society of Genealogists’ Family History Show) takes place at Olympia, London from Saturday 5 to Monday 7 May.

Adult ticket price is £20. For a two-for-one offer – two tickets for £20 (plus £1.30 booking fee) – visit the WDYTYA website and quote FFHS241 when prompted for a code. Offer closes 22 April.

The West Meads Meeting Centre are running a coach to Olympia on Saturday 5 May – details in the March Sussex Family Historian.

West Blatchington windmill

Of late the West Blatchington windmill has been home to meetings of the SFHG executive committee. The windmill is the subject of a talk on Wednesday 9 May at the SFHG’s Brighton & Hove Meeting Centre. They meet in Ventnor Hall, Blatchington Road, Hove at 7.30pm.

See the SFHG website for programmes for the whole year for all the meeting centres.

The windmill, in Holmes Avenue, Hove, is open to the public 2.30pm-5pm every Sunday and Bank Holiday during May to September inclusive. terminates free access in FHCs

The Generations Network, Inc, the owner of, as well as,,, and Family Tree Maker, is halting the practice of giving free access to in all Family History Centres.

Over the past several months, has been in discussion with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) on a formal licensing arrangement by which it could continue to make its service available to the public for free. The two parties were unable to reach an agreement. says it still wishes to have a licensing arrangement with the LDS that would allow it to continue to provide free access to the public in FHCs. The Ancestry Library Edition is available free to the public in over 1,400 public libraries in the US and UK via a similar licensing arrangement.

Because of existing contractual agreements, a number of databases will continue to be available at FHCs. These include the 1880, 1900 and 1920 US censuses and the full name indices for the 1841-1891 censuses for England and Wales.