Who Do You Think You Are? Live – London

So, on Sunday I headed off into London for Who Do You Think You Are? Live. I had bought a Q-jump ticket to avoid the queues I remembered from last year on the Saturday, but didn’t need to have as it was a lot quieter, with no queues at all to get in. And none of the presentations were booked out either, so I managed to snaffle a couple more tickets. Having been awake since 2am (yay jetlag), I decided to spend most of my time sitting and listening to talks, rather than traipsing around the exhibition floor.

After grabbing the extra tickets, I lined up to get a photo dated by Jayne Shrimpton at the Family Tree magazine stand.

I had a good idea who the couple were in the photograph – my great great grandparents Mary Jane Clark and Ephraim Wright – but couldn’t be sure, and wanted a date for confirmation. On the back of the photograph, in handwriting I don’t recognise (a couple of relatives in that family were great at writing of the back of photos, but this wasn’t from one of them) is the inscription: “Dad copied this from a very old & faded photograph of your father and mother. Thought you would like one.” Ephraim died at the age of 33 in 1894, and we have no photographs of him, so I was excited to find out if it was possibly him and his wife Mary Jane. She married three times, so I really needed the date. Jayne gave a date range of 1876 to 1883 (wow! so impressed she could be that specific – wanted to ask her more about how she could date so precisely, but didn’t want to take up more than my allotted time), and also said that it looked like a standard wedding photo. Ephraim and Mary Jane were married in 1882 in Lewisham, Kent, so this fitted perfectly!

Mary Jane and Ephraim Wright (probably wedding photo, 1882)

Mary Jane and Ephraim Wright (probably wedding photo, 1882)

I had a quick look around some of the stands, then headed off to the theatre for the first talk – Behind the Scenes with Ainsley Harriot, one of the celebrities featured in a previous UK series of Who Do You Think You Are? I wouldn’t have bothered with going, but it was nice to sit and relax for an hour, and it was interesting enough, though I didn’t learn anything useful for my own research.

Straight then onto my next presentation: Reading the writing of the past – Barbara Harvey (replacing Dominic Johnson). An interesting topic, would have been better as more of a “hands on” workshop I think. Barbara did a good job if she was drafted in at the last minute.

Now onto the workshops I had prebooked. First up was: My ancestor was in the parish registers - John Hanson. I had attended a very similar talk last year given by Else Churchill (in fact, I recognised some of the same images), but I think I got a lot more out of it this year, having actually started looking at parish records. Really enjoyed this, great speaker.

With only 15 minutes between talks at this point, I was thankful they were all in the same place or nearby, so I had a chance to grab a bite to eat in between!

Next up: Records of deaths and burials – Alec Tritton. Well, this was a bit disappointing. Covered some of the same material as John Hanson’s talk. Alec mentioned that he’d had to cut his usual 90 minute talk on the subject into 45 minutes, and it showed. To be fair, I was possibly flagging a little at this point. The online handout should be useful.

Phew – little bit of a breather here. Had a prebooked Ask the Experts session, and got some direction on how to tackle a brick wall concerning a great great great grandfather. I then had a chance to wander around the stands and check out some of the books for sale – and grabbed a discounted copy of Phillimore’s Atlas and Index of Parish Registers, which I had been wanting. I also had a chat to the membership officer for the Suffolk FHS.

Last workshop of the day was: Irish records – beyond the obvious, with Rosalind McCutcheon. Oh, what a joy and delight this woman was! I was worried that I’d be falling asleep by the end of the day, but no fear here! Lovely speaker and lots of useful information.

All in all, a good day!

Handouts of all the above presentations and more besides are available online at the Society of Genealogists website.

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