Tag Archives: sussex family history group

Why I couldn’t live without the Sussex Family History Group

14 Oct

I decided it was about time I joined in the fun at the Carnival of Genealogy, the 82nd edition is all about family history societies. I have been a member of various genealogical and historical societies over the years, some have fallen by the wayside, due to changing interests or lack of money.

There is one society without which I could not have got as far I have in my research, and that is the Sussex Family History Group. I don’t remember how many years I have been a member now, certainly since I started taking my family history research seriously, when it became an obsession rather than just a hobby.

They provide all the services you would expect from a genealogical society, including a quarterly journal, an award-winning website, an email mailing list, numerous publications in print, microfiche and CD-ROM, they have library for members and also organise an annual conference as well as holding smaller local meetings around Sussex.

Given that over two thirds (probably nearer three-quarters) of my direct ancestors were born in the county of Sussex, England it is not surprising that many of their publications are sitting within arms reach of my computer.

There are two keys resources that I couldn’t work without, the first is the Sussex Marriage Index CD-ROM. This index is said to contain every recorded marriage in the county of Sussex (and some outside the boundaries as well) up to 1837 when civil registration came into force.

The software itself is a pleasure to use, unlike some other indexes I have used, it is quick and has the really useful ability to copy the selected marriage details to the clipboard, so that they can be pasted elsewhere.

The second resource is their members only data archive (provided by Frontis). This is quite a recent development, and whilst the website isn’t quite as professional and advanced as some of the online databases, what it lacks in appearance and search functionality is more than made up for by the wealth of data it holds.

It contains baptism records for most of the Sussex parishes, although it is by no means as complete as the marriage index. Also coming online at the moment are burial indexes for selected Sussex parishes as well.

A quick glance at the home page of their website will give you an idea of the wide range of services and publications the Sussex Family History Group has to offer. I haven’t even mentioned their range of monumental inscription CDs or their census indexes which pre-date the arrival of the census on the internet.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the chairman, officers, volunteers and members, both past and present, for all the hard work that they have put in (and continue to put in), which makes this group such a wonderful resource, without which my research would be struggling to get off the ground.

Cheering myself up with the COTTINGTONs, a genealogical pick me up

22 Jun

Last night I needed to do a quick bit of family history research that would stop me feeling sorry for myself and give me the satisfaction that I had achieved something with my family history this weekend.

I chose the COTTINGTONs of Framfield, Sussex because I knew it would be quite easy to fill in some details and make some quick progress, although I hadn’t really looked at them in any depth before, but with a surname like COTTINGTON how difficult could it be?

Caroline COTTINGTON was my 3x great grandmother and married Thomas DRIVER in Framfield on the 25th December 1855. From the marriage entry I knew her father was James COTTINGTON and she was born around 1834. So my first step was to find her in the census as the daughter of James COTTINGTON rather than as the wife of Thomas DRIVER.

This proved to be even easier than I had expected, but with the help of the Sussex Marriage Index (thanks to the Sussex Family History Group) I discovered that James had been married twice, and was widowed twice by the 1851 census.

I then had the task of picking through the children in the census and with the help of the Sussex Baptism Index (thanks again to the SFHG), allocating each one to the correct set of parents.

That was just the sort of quick challenge I needed to get my brain focused again. I could now go to bed knowing that I had added another family (or two depending on how you look at it) to my tree and taken that branch back further still.

Sussex Family History Group conference

28 Mar

Today (28th March 2009) I had the pleasure of attending the Sussex Family History Group 2009 conference at Haywards Heath, West Sussex. It was held at the Clair Hall in Haywards Heath, a small multi-purpose venue which I am familiar with because of the monthly postcard fair held there.

It was well attended, I would estimate around 250-300 people, which is probably about as much as the hall could cope with. There were three guest speakers (Michael Gandy, Annabelle Hughes and Ian Gledhill) and a handful of stalls selling various books and CDs.

Michael Gandy‘s talk was entitled “Country Poor, Town Poor” and rather than dwell on the differences between the two, the talk challenged some of our widely held views on the poor and discussed how very little has actually changed over the past couple of centuries.

Annabelle Hughes is an expert on many (if not all) aspects of Sussex buildings and their records, and we were lead through an example of her research into one Sussex farm, from the Domesday book to the present day. Her talk mentioned many sources for property records, that would be of interest to the family historian, which pre-date parish registers and are easily available (in printed form, not on the internet) to researchers.

Ian Gledhill gave an illustrated talk entitled “Oh, We Do Like to be Beside the Seaside”, which took us from the earliest days when bathing started to become popular up to the present day. The talk covered the major resorts on the Sussex coast and a few beyond, with details of the development of piers and theatres etc. that our ancestors may once have enjoyed.

At lunchtime whilst the majority of attendees enjoyed their lunch, I left Clair Hall and boarded a bus for the Princess Royal Hospital on the other side of Haywards Heath and walked a short way down the road to pay a visit to what had once been the East Sussex County Asylum, and home to my 2x great grandfather George Thomas GASSON for five years (before he was moved to the new asylum at Hellingly).

The building is quite impressive, and mostly converted to flats and appartments now, I did get some photographs but conditions weren’t ideal, there is still building work going on (at least it appears to be), I will have to return when I have more time and better weather conditions.

I walked back to Clair Hall for the afternoon session through the town, which is not particularly interesting, a few old buildings remain, but the town centre is quite modern (although perhaps a little dated now).

It was a good day, the talks were varied and well presented, the conference was well organised, and I managed to pick up a couple of bargain books from the Sussex Record Society stall (they were having a clearance sale). The fact that I got to do a bit of walking was an added bonus!

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