Tracing Your Family's History by Eric Warden-Heggie

Tracing your Family History with Eric Warden-Heggie

Meeting of 10th February 2011

Eric began by asking us to share our experiences of family history research. Whilst there were many new starters others had over 40 years of researching. We found the difficulties of tracking your family down if they were called Smith or Jones; how fascinating it is to ask your grandparents to reminisce (and record it) and how much easier it is to start whilst your parents are still around. There were many great family stories and successes and frustrations discussed. As Eric said, we’re all likely to find a domestic, an agricultural labourer and a bastard in our family, less likely to find a direct link to royalty, but you will find some fame of some sort in your family history.

Useful contacts suggested (I have more if wanted, please get in touch – CS):

- Forest of Dean Family History website & Gloucestershire Family History Society

- Money convertor (from old to new values) on

- Eric offered help to individuals in need of encouragement (contact details below)

- Good introductory books: Tracing your Family History by Anthony Adolf; published Collins; and Journeys in Family History published by The National Archives

- May Brace, formerly of the Family History Help Desk at Cinderford Library offered help to anyone hitting problems:

- Eric is planning to continue this theme with a session on oral history in the autumn.

We were reminded that copied information is not always correct - a website may have misspelt a place name or a surname, so try different spellings. (Eric had a romantic image of a family idyll in Raddington, Somerset, only to discover later that Pallet's Marriage Index, created in 1812, had mis-stamped dozens and that his family actually came from Paddington). Pallet's Index is on which is accessible free at Coleford Library.

There are software packages that can help with your research. The Society of Genealogists recommends 'Family Historian' as it is UK published. The group also suggested 'Find my Past'. It was agreed that family history magazines (of which there are a huge number) where quite expensive and not always very helpful.

Gillian finished by giving details on the Forest of Dean Local History Society’s research project on World War Two and asking if anyone could supply their war memories – please contact Gillian on 01594 860868. CS