Week 1: Class 1: Sourcing your English Ancestors with Else Churchill and Alec Tritton

Class Description:

Five days online tuition on English genealogical research focusing on the themes of the records of church and state; what did our ancestors do? Research problems and solutions, and review early administrative records. This course will be very focused on records and sources, identifying resources to use for English research and history. We will also offer breakout rooms to analyse and assess documents and practical hints, including techniques and tips on tracing that elusive English ancestor—especially when you are far from the original sources and archives.

  • 16 formal illustrated talks each lasting 60-75 minutes.
  • 4 practical sessions of about 20-30 minutes. These will use Zoom breakout rooms and group work to interpret and analyse English documents or discuss genealogical techniques.


1.       Parish registers and other documents
The parish played such a varied and important role in the lives of our ancestors that it is useful to establish if other records generated by the various officers  of the parish can supplement the parish registers AT

2.       Probate records before 1858
An understanding of how to find wills and related documents for England and Wales. It will look at how to best make use of sources online, in the Family History Library and still held within local record offices in England and Wales. EAC

3.       Outside the church – nonconformist records
By 1851 it was estimated that some 50% of church attendance was outside the established Church of England. So what are the signs that your ancestor may not have conformed? How were they treated? Where else can you look if they aren’t in the parish registers?  AT

 Break out rooms to discuss problems or look at typical English genealogy documents
(EAC tips and techniques for reading English wills)

Day 2: WHAT DID THEY DO? Part 1

4.       18th Century newspapers, periodicals, almanacks and directories
The British Library’s online digitisation of newspapers has opened up so many new avenues for genealogical and biographical discovery that they should often be considered the first step in your research. Whether you are looking for obituaries, discovering that your ancestors were victims of petty crime or died a gory death; the colour and social history illustrated by the newspaper reports will greatly add to your genealogy. Tradesmen, professionals and the burgeoning middle classes read prolifically and the semi-official almanacks and early periodicals such as the Gentleman’s Magazine and local directories can often provide fascinating clues. EAC

5.       Apprenticeships before 1850 in the city, borough and parish
Apprenticeship provided education and opportunities for young men and (some) women and was one of the ways of becoming a freeman of a borough or a guild. This session looks at the London records at the Guildhall as well as other local town records AT

6.       Sea, Sand and Sail AT
England has a coastline of some 2,748 miles with no place more than 75 miles from the sea. It is not unsurprising that it is a proud seafaring nation with many family connections to employment in all sort of roles, whether merchant seamen in trade or fishing to those that were employed in government service such as in Customs and Excise, the Coastguard service and Ridings Officers. This lecture will discuss the surviving records available and where to find them. AT

Practical Sessions -breakout rooms to discuss problems or look at typical English genealogy documents  (apprentice indenture) (AT interpreting an apprentice indenture)


7.       Church court records
The church upheld the morality of its citizens and an appearance before the courts as a plaintiff or witness was very common. This session looks at the records and cases generated by the courts as a useful genealogical resource form 1600-1800 EAC

8.       Before the workhouse: The old poor laws
The Tudor poor laws limped on, administered by the church in its civil capacity, until it was replaced in 1834 and produced an amazing amount of information about those who did or who might become a burden on the parish.  AT

9.      Tracing your women ancestors in name rich resources
Too often ignored and under researched the lives of our female ancestor can and should be researched. Using some remarkable name rich resources for the long 18th century (i.e.about 1685-1837) we shall see how such records supplement the more commonly used genealogical sources for the period

Break out rooms to discuss problems or look at typical English genealogy documents
(EC  Interpreting and reading poor law documents)


    10.       London problems and solutions
    Tracing London ancestors in a burgeoning city is a challenge. This talk explains what is meant by London, the unique records for the City and what we now recognise as Greater London. We will suggest some problems of locating information about vital events and why these records can be difficult to find. AT

    11.       Tax and Town. Voting Rights and Responsibilities
    Poll Books, Freemen and other Borough Records, Hearth, Window, Land and Assessed Taxes, Jury Lists, Rate Payers,  Oath and Other Loyalty Rolls. EAC

    12.       I’m stuck. Ideas for tracing your elusive English ancestor
    Everyone comes up against a brick wall in research and this session will look at some ideas for localising where your ancestors came from and some techniques for searching English records and resources. EAC

    Break out rooms to discuss problems or look at typical English genealogy documents
    (EAC  Family Reconstruction and FAN)


        13.    County records – JPs petty and quarter sessions
        The Justices of the Peace undertook considerable administrative duties as well as dealing with local justice and criminals. Hence the sessions minutes and act books held in county record offices provide invaluable information about alehouse keepers, badgers, debtors and insolvent persons, gamekeepers, electors, jurors and freeholders, oath-takers, papists, freemasons, prisoners and taxpayers.  AT

        14.       17th century problems, strategies and searches
        With so much migration into Virginia and New England by the mid 17th century this session will look at the possible sources that might help extend research back in England EAC

        15.       An introduction to manorial documents
        Understanding the manors where your ancestors might have lived and worked may provide information from the manorial court records, rentals and estate records. This session will show how to find manorial records and some examples of the genealogical information they may yield  AT

        16.       Hopping the pond. Essential biographical and genealogical reference resources and techniques to find the elusive ancestor
        This session will look at the resources of the Society of Genealogists, printed and unpublished pedigrees and online resources. EAC

        Week 1: Class 2: Researching your Irish and Scots-Irish Ancestors with Fintan Mullan and Gillian Hunt

        Class Description:

        The course will explore strategies for researching Irish and Scots-Irish ancestors, as many individuals may have either or both in their ancestry. The programme content covers the whole island of Ireland, not solely Ulster, and useful examples are drawn from numerous different counties to demonstrate the range of material and to illuminate the island-wide nature of the presentations.

        A particular specialism of the Foundation, garnered from its 65 years of experience, is researching Scots-Irish ancestors. The Scots-Irish or Scotch-Irish left Scotland, many in the seventeenth century, settled as part of various, successive waves of plantation in Ulster, stayed maybe one, two or several generations and then moved on to North America.

        • The importance of Irish land divisions: understanding townlands
        • Vital (civil) records – birth marriage and death certificates (1845 to present)
        • Archives and libraries in Ireland: an overview
        • Irish official census records of the nineteenth and early twentieth-century

        • Getting the most out of Griffith’s Valuation and nineteenth century land valuation records
        • Using printed sources for Irish family history (1)
        • Early nineteenth-century land records: tithe applotment books, tithe defaulters’ records, and freeholders’ registers
        • Census substitutes and other useful but lesser-known sources (1 – 19th & 20th century)

        • Irish church records for use in genealogical research (1) – registers of baptisms/births, marriages and burials/deaths
        • The importance of gravestone inscriptions and funerary monuments in Irish research
        • Irish church records for use in genealogical research (2) – records of church administration
        • Using Irish wills and testamentary records

        • Census substitutes and other useful but lesser-known sources (2 – 18th century)
        • Irish education and school records: the records of the National Education system
        • Using Irish landed estate records to find eighteenth- and nineteenth-century ancestors
        • Using the Registry of Deeds: an important source for eighteenth century research
        • Law and order records: sources relating to the police, local courts and the prison system in Ireland

        • Using printed sources for Irish family history (2)
        • The Ulster Plantation and sources for finding seventeenth century families in Ireland (not just Ulster)
        • The Irish Poor Law and local government records: Board of Guardians, workhouse registers and grand jury records
        • Emigration from Ireland to North America – sources for researching emigrant ancestors

        Week 2: Class 3: Tracing your Welsh Ancestors with Beryl Evans

        Class Description:

        The course will be suitable for beginners and those more advanced with a variety of topics covered throughout the week, from parish registers to estate records. Online resources will be a large part of the course, including how and where to access them and how to interpret the information you find. Primary sources will also be covered, and again we will discuss how to access them. Each topic will also have a reading list with links to any online resources to further investigate. An introduction to the Welsh language will also be covered using Welsh patronymics and place names.


        • Preparing for research and where to start
        • Civil Registration - Birth, marriage and death certificates
        • Parish Registers & Bishop's transcripts


        • Nonconformity
        • Census Returns 1841-1921 including 1939 Registers
        • Parish Chest records


        • Wills and probate records
        • Poor Law records after 1834
        • Maps for family history
        • Estate and Manorial Records


        • Education
        • Criminal records including the Court of Great Sessions
        • Some Taxes
        • Immigration and Emigration


        • Trade and Industry in Wales
        • Newspapers
        • Other printed sources
        • Round up, questions and discussion on what next

        Week 2: Class 4: Writing your Family History Step-by-Step with Lisa Alzo, M.F.A.

        Class Description:

        You can’t edit a blank page! The most difficult part of any writing project is getting started. This interactive course will walk you step-by-step through the process of writing a “can’t put down” family history. Students will learn key storytelling techniques for documenting their ancestors' lives, how to craft a compelling narrative from genealogy research and social history, and tips for overcoming writer’s block. A selection of tools and apps (available for free or via a free trial) to help with outlining, writing, and editing tasks will be reviewed during the course.

        A series of short, focused writing assignments will allow students to start a writing project, with the goal of having at least a small segment (approximately 2500 words) of a rough draft by the end of the week. Students will have an opportunity to share their completed assignments for feedback from the instructor and fellow attendees during class sessions.

        Pre-class:  Preparing to Write – Pre-recorded video on how to plan your writing project, decide on a theme, and set writing goals. Before the first class meeting, students will be asked to complete a project planning worksheet and project pitch (3-4 sentence summary of the story) and a short “ice-breaker” writing exercise to spark creativity. Time for discussion and sharing will be allotted during the first class meeting.

        Monday – Tips and Tools to Jumpstart the Writing Process

        Tuesday – Crafting a Compelling Narrative from Genealogy Research and Social History 

        Wednesday – Using Creative Nonfiction and Other Storytelling Techniques

        Thursday – Editing and Revising Your Work

        Friday – Sharing Your Stories (Blogs, Books, and more!)

        You may choose to attend LIVE or just receive the recordings. Each registered participant will receive access to the recordings and syllabus. Recordings will be available to access until 31 December 2022, but cannot be downloaded.

        Meet the Instructors

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        "International Society for British Genealogy and Family History" is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. P.O. Box 3345, Centennial, CO 80161

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