2015/16 Committee

Chair janet few-150

Janet Few

I am in my fourth decade of family and local history research. I enjoy dissecting small, rural communities and trying to understand how they functioned in the past. In this respect, I maintain my own one-place studies for the North Devon villages of Buckland Brewer, Bucks Mills and Bulkworthy. I am the author of Putting Your Ancestors in their Place: a guide to one place studies and was the critical reader and family history advisor to the Open University for the course ‘Family and Community History’, going on to tutor this course. I am actively involved in several family history societies. As historian for The Braund Family History Society, I have immersed myself in the origins, genealogy and biography of this West Country family and have written several books about them. As well as undertaking freelance research, I lecture and write on family and local history topics. My alter ego, ‘Mistress Agnes’, spends time living in the seventeenth century, where I impart information about life in the time of the English Civil War. My book Coffers, Clysters, Comfrey and Coifs: the lives of our seventeenth century ancestors, emerged out of this experience. I am also responsible for the recent re-edit of the handbook Family Historian’s Enquire Within.

You can read about my chaotic historical life on the blog at Latest News from the History Interpreter.

Treasurer Alex Coles Photo

Alex Coles
New Zealand

I have been researching my own family history since late 2002 after the 1901 census became widely accessible online and a trip to England left me wondering which part was ancestrally "mine". The Wing one-place study followed within a year as I had already amassed a fair amount of knowledge about Wing just from trying to solve some riddles about my great-grandfather and his parents.

While I'm not a professional genealogist (nor do I plan to be), I do have a keen interest in methodology and best practice. Prior to the formation of the Society I managed the One-Place Studies website and associated social media accounts. In my non-genealogy time I am a chartered accountant here in New Zealand.

Secretary Kirsty Gray Photo

Kirsty Gray

When my grandfather left the family tree, suitcase of documents and paraphernalia with my parents in 1982, as a child I remember pouring over the names, photographs, newspaper cuttings and much more with great excitement. Never would they have imagined that their foundations would develop into such an obsession for me in the future! Exploring my paternal ancestry, I discovered that all his forebears hailed from the West Country - in fact, more specifically, Devon - and when the rare Sillifant surname appeared twice in our family history, a one-name study was born. The parishes within Holsworthy Registration District hold a large percentage of the records of Sillifant historical life events and, from my many visits to the area, a fascination with the two small, isolated parishes of Tetcott and Luffincott has developed. My knowledge of the West Country in general, saw an approach from Pen and Sword in 2011 and the publication of my book Tracing Your West Country Ancestors in March 2013.

Event Manager
& Editor
Suzie Morley

Suzie Morley

I created my first family tree when I was twelve. I had discovered that my Nan (my Mum’s Mum) had been married twice and her first husband had been killed in the war. I didn’t know which war that was, but it sounded exciting - like something in my brother’s comics. I spent a few weeks badgering everyone for information and drew a family tree in my school book. Then life got in the way, until my Mum mentioned that her father’s Birth Certificate had a different surname to that in his Marriage Certificate. That started me off on a trail that has lasted many years.

Most of my career has been involved with IT Configuration Management and Change Control, and includes setting up ITIL processes and procedures to support smart and agile working practices. In 2009 I became Chairman of the Board of Trustees for a local charity and have spent the last five years working with a brilliant team of people.

I am a member of the Guild of One-Name Studies for the TABOURDEUX name. More recently I have been transcribing all the Baptism, Marriage and Burial records for the village of Debenham in Suffolk, England. Along the way I also started on the records for the neighbouring villages of Aspall, Kenton, Mickfield and Winston.

Further challenges await.


Steve Pickthall

Steve Pickthall

My interest in family history began in the early 1980's after seeing a friend's mother sorting through her own family history and I quickly established that my family's roots were primarily in East & West Sussex, Worcestershire & Devon.

I took the Community & Family History course as part of my OU degree and developed a particular interest in parish clerks/sextons/church wardens (roles filled by some of my ancestors) maintaining an online register of these on the web together with a index of people involved in fatal railway accidents (here).

My one-place study is New Fishbourne, West Sussex because it is somewhere where I have family connections, I had already done some research about it (for my OU course), and it was about the right size (population approx. 300). I started the study around 2005, as an interest I could pursue with my young daughter. She has now outgrown it but I continue to dabble, now with interference from my wife!

I already looked after three other websites (a family history society, a local history society and my own website), so volunteered to take on the One Place Studies webmaster role to fill in my spare time.