A newsletter for the Sussex Family History Group

SFHG receives awards

The Federation of Family History Societies makes awards each year to the winning FHS websites and journals. At the FFHS General Meeting at the beginning of September our Chairman, Mick Richardson, had the privilege of receiving two awards on behalf of SFHG.

Mick Richardson receiving the website award from Colin Chapman


Firstly the winner’s award for the SFHG website. This is the second time that our Webmaster Alan Stoner has achieved this accolade for his upkeep of the informative yet easy to use website. This award is sponsored by ABM Publishing who present a £100 cheque to the winning society.

Then Sussex Family Historian was placed in joint third position in the Elizabeth Simpson Award. This is awarded annually for the journal judged to have made the best contribution to family history. Previously, during Trevor Hanson’s editorship, SFH has been ‘Highly Commended’ on one occasion and also ‘Commended’ once.

No other society or group was placed in both categories.

Wanted – Library Secretary

Due to the imminent retirement at the end of this year of our existing Library Secretary, Rosemary Appleton, after being in post for 12 years, the Group urgently needs a successor to shadow Rosemary during the next three months.

The main tasks are:
1. Acting as secretary to the Library Sub-Committee which meets up to four times a year.
2. Noting income and expenses and keeping the Treasurer informed.
3. Drawing up the Helpers Rota at six-month intervals and updating as necessary.
4. Advising the Editor of news concerning the library.

This role is vital – without someone to take it on, the SFHG Library service might have to be still further curtailed. It is not necessary for the Secretary to be at the library every week. Anyone interested in taking it on should in the first instance contact the Chairman. @

FRC closedown

Details of the Family Records Centre closure arrangements are changing almost daily. As at 23 September the General Register Office (Births, Marriages & Deaths on the ground floor) has announced that:

   during October 2007 the paper indexes will be removed from the search room and relocated at Christchurch.

   search facilities will be provided on the first floor (co-located with The National Archives facilities) to provide access to the GRO indexes.

But the latest advice is that this latter service will be restricted to a very inadequate three microfiche copies of a version of the ledgers which does not include any of the handwritten amendments to the originals. In addition, many of the fiche are very difficult to read. A further impairment arises with the withdrawal of a counter service for the order and collection of certificates.

When the transfer was originally announced, it was expected that a digitisation project would have been completed by the time of the transfer so that researchers would be able to use it to obtain more detail than is currently available from the ledgers. However, this project has suffered the usual computer problems and early completion is now impossible as funding for the project has been withdrawn.

The census records will transfer to Kew during April 2008 after which the FRC will close completely.

Given the volatility of these arrangements, with immediate effect, any family historian wishing to visit the FRC, or The National Archives at Kew, should telephone the latter on 020 8876 3444 in advance to determine what is where. Readers might also want to voice their opposition to these changes by signing the petition at

Who do you think you are?

www.bbcwhodoyouthinkyouare.comStrategically in the midst of series four on BBC television, BBC Magazines have now launched a new BBC Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine. Produced by the people behind BBC History Magazine, this new family history magazine will complement the popular BBC series, giving expert advice on how to research family history.

For the first episode of the series, more than six million viewers tuned in to see BBC newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky discovering the fate of her grandfather’s Jewish family in Eastern Europe.

The WDYTYA? format has been sold to several other countries. A 13-part series will be screened shortly on Canadian television. And an Australian version airs in January.

Following the success of May’s ‘Who do you think you are? Live’ event it is to be repeated next spring, again at London’s Olympia.

Poor Law transcribing project

As reported in September’s Sussex Family Historian, The National Archives is applying for funding to list in detail the contents of MH12, the correspondence of central government with local Poor Law Unions. East Sussex has been chosen as one of about 20 pilot counties. In total there are 16,000 volumes of Poor Law material at TNA, some of which contain fascinating details. In conjunction with ESRO, TNA are seeking volunteers to help record this correspondence.

Ideally the project, led by Dr Paul Carter, would involve six to eight people transcribing summaries of Poor Law reports onto scanned forms. This could take place at the East Sussex Record Office or could be done at home. Training will be given, and TNA would edit the input. A commitment of three hours per person per week is recommended for the volunteers and this is envisaged as a four-year project.

Rye has been selected as it is a coastal town – it has 14 volumes of correspondence. Firle, which has only four volumes, has been chosen as the second area.

If you would like to know more about this project please make contact with Christopher Whittick at ESRO, e-mail:

An unsolicited testimonial

I have been a member of the Sussex Family History Group for several years but I am not a committee member or involved with the running of the Group.

I imagine that many of you on this mailing group are also members of the SFHG but I also imagine that many of you are not, despite having an interest in tracing your family history in Sussex.

Over the last two months I have made extensive use of some of the services offered by SFHG and their members, and would like to publicly thank Brian Cutler (Baptisms Index), Christine Payne (Tombstones and Buriels Index), Judy Excell (Sussex People Index), Michael Hayes (Baptisms Index), Dennis Plank (Settlement Certificates) and Andy Hedgcock (Settlement Certificates) for the amount of time they have taken in providing me with information that has enabled me to progress my research into my PAGE ancestry in central East Sussex. In the cases of Brian Cutler and Christine Payne the amount of time they have spent has been very considerable.

If you have not yet made use of some of these services, then I urge you to consider doing so, especially if you are unable to visit the East Sussex Record Office in Lewes. The amount of information contained in the indexes is immense.

Finally, if you are not yet a member of SFHG, then I strongly urge you to consider joining, and thereby making a small return for the services offered by the Group.

The SFHG website is at and I consider my annual subscription of only £11 (£13 for overseas members) to be the best value for the money I spend on genealogy. • Chris Page

[You may have seen this message posted last month on the Sussex-Plus mailing list, and copied to the SFHG list, by member Chris Page. Reproduced here with permission.]

FFHS Education Seminar

This seminar is being held on Saturday 10 November, 10am-4.30pm, at the BAWA Leisure Centre, Filton, Bristol.

There will be an opening session with a keynote speaker to introduce the seminar. Then the seminar will cover four sessions, two in the morning and two in the afternoon:
  Sharing your own experiences.
  Facilitating education presentations.
  Education within societies.
  Family history courses on the internet.

The seminar closes with a plenary session summarizing the themes for the day and dealing with any questions and feedback. The cost of £15 per person includes tea, coffee and buffet lunch.

These FFHS regional seminars provide information of benefit to committee members of family history societies and to those considering joining the committee of such an organisation. However, they are also open to any family historian who wishes to know more about the topic – or about the functions of the Federation of Family History Societies.

See for more details and booking form.