Virtual Branch meetings 

Future Virtual Branch talks include the following (all being live meetings on the Tuesday evening and either repeated or recorded for the Thursday morning meeting). Below are our forthcoming talks and meetings. If you wish to join us anytime, please contact me via my Society email address:   . This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.                                                                                          Graham Warmington


 Our next WFHS Virtual Branch Zoom meeting will be on Tuesday 26th March (7.30pm UK time; repeated on the 28th March at 9am UK time). “Revisiting the Census for England and Wales” with Jenny Pope. This is a zoom talk in which Jenny will take a fresh look at the census returns over the decades, in order to raise the realisation that we often need to re-evaluate our family and ancestry understanding in the light of both later and earlier records, especially as many more records have been made available online in recent years (and continue to do so). The talk will conclude with a question-and-answer session.

If you already receive reminders about forthcoming Virtual Branch meetings, you will receive access details within the next few days.

However, if you aren’t already on my list of Virtual Branch members, and you wish to join us for either of the two sessions, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so that I can add your name and email address to the list.

Many thanks,

Graham Warmington

Tuesday 28th May (7.30pm UK time; repeated on the 30th May at 9am UK time). Our Society President, Steve Hobbs, is going to help us how to research the history of the houses, and other buildings, that were important to the lives of our Wiltshire (and elsewhere) ancestors. This will be through maps, documents, and other resources. 

Tuesday 23rd July (7.30pm UK time; repeated on the 25th July at 9am UK time). Terry Bracher, from the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre is giving an interesting talk on Wiltshire Black History which will be an exploration of the topic from the 16th Century onwards using documentary and archival evidence.

 Tuesday 24th Sept 2024 (7.30pm UK time; repeated on the 26th Sept at 9am UK time). t.b.a.

Tuesday 26th Nov 2024 (7.30pm UK time; repeated on the 28th Nov at 9am UK time). The Historical Fiction writer, Jean Renwick, will be helping us to understand the physical and emotional struggles and adventures of those, who for economic and other reasons during the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century emigrated from the UK to various parts of the world. For this she will use the characters and their life stories of those who emigrated from Yorkshire to the USA in her "The Mourning Brooch" trilogy of which she has already published the first two books and is hoping to publish the third book in the near future. Based on an account concerning her own family, her research and understanding of the period on both sides of the Atlantic has been widely applauded. Whether we are amongst those who have direct ancestors who emigrated from the UK, or have family members who also emigrated (whether from Wiltshire or elsewhere in the UK), I am sure that listening to Jean will help us understand what our predecessors had to endure for the future of their immediate family.

We are always interested in hearing from our virtual branch members as to the themes they would like us to feature during our branch meetings.

Past Meetings:

Tuesday 23rd January (7.30pm UK time; repeated on the 25th January at 9am UK time). Last January we were very grateful to James Holden for his excellent talk on the development of Wiltshire Nonconformist chapels from the 17th Century to the present day. As a companion talk, this January Graham Warmington spoke about the nonconformists themselves, the struggles they endured and why it is sometimes impossible to find pre-1837 birth, marriage and death details about our ancestors who were not Anglicans. The title of his talk was “The Dissenters and their records”. Giving a potted history of the principal English denominations from the 17th Century (i.e. the Quakers, Congregationalists and Baptists), to the rise of Methodism, the Salvation Army, Pentecostalism, and the new churches of later centuries, Graham also spoke about the laws that the Parliament of the time sought to restrict the spread of nonconformity in the late 17th Century and the gradual withdrawal of those restrictions.

Tuesday 28th November (7.30pm UK time; repeated on the 30th November at 9am UK time). Graham Grist, one of our Virtual branch members is a volunteer for the Commonwealth War Grave Commission, and therefore gave us an interesting talk on the work of the CWGC, with special reference to Wiltshire. During the talk, he spoke about how the Commission came into being, the differences between graves in the various cemeteries around the world, and also the extent of the number of graves managed by the Commission around the world.

29th August (repeated on the 31st August): John Hanson FSG on “Understanding the 1921 Census” – this was an excellent talk, as John has put together a comprehensive guide to the census, with ideas that most of us may never have thought of. During his talk, he mentioned the background for both the census itself (being the first one after WW1) as well as the special little querks of the returns, for example the schedule types (including P indicating prison, and I indicating institution). He highlighted the pieces of information that had been dropped from the previous census, but also mentioned the valuable details that had been added. These include: greater details regarding ages; the issue of divorce in some families, whether the children had both parents still alive or only one and whether they were in full time or part time education, etc. The biggest improvement was with regard to occupations, including fuller details of the work itself (inc. number codes for different jobs) and details about the employers and the place of employment. The talk was very much appreciated, especially as we were able to circulate John's notes to those who had attended.

27th June (repeated on the 29th): Dr David Church on the understanding of death pronouncements on historic death certificates.  Members of the Virtual Branch were given a treat with a talk by Dr David Church. David is a member of the Wiltshire Family History Society and has been a major player in establishing and running the Society’s Virtual Branch. David has now proved that he is an excellent speaker especially with regard his keen interest in genealogy and his professional skills as a practicing G.P. (with an interest in historical ailments). The talk was entitled “Death Certificates and Causes of Death”. Speaking on this theme, he looked at what we can learn as family historians from the death certificates (both English and Welsh) and also the accompanying medical certificates and the more recent Crematorium forms – each containing a slightly different set of information data concerning the deceased. This was followed by an explanation of many of the historical names given to diseases that are now known by different names; including over 60 named diseases identified as causes of death in the London area during 1632. “Bloody Flux”, “King’s Evil” and “Tympany” were amongst the conditions that David explained. The session ended with a literal “surgery” with David explaining the meanings of various diseases and conditions that had been found on family death certificates obtained by members joining us for the talks. 

April. Karen Rogers shared with the Virtual Branch members on two occasions about her difficulties in doing British family research from "Down Under". She began by reflecting back to the 1980s/90s when it was a lot more difficult because of the lack of online resources that were available then, and to order any document from the UK meant a six week waiting period. With the readily available resources of today, research is far more accessible, but to answer the questions about the social and economic conditions of our ancestors still remains a little daunting. Because of this she has learned that the best way is to make herself and her personal research (especially with her Liddiard One-Name Study research) known to the relevant Family History Societies and the County Record / History Centres. Making trips to the UK every two or three years means that during her visits she takes copies of as many documents as she can manage and spend the years in between transcribing them. Our thanks to Karen for sharing her thoughts on the matter as most of us have ancestors living in areas that are not easy to visit on a regular basis. In the two discussions following her talk, the first focussed on the importance of the insights of life in the past regarding living in Wiltshire and/or Wiltshire villages/towns; whilst the second talk led to a discussion about other family names and connections in the Wiltshire communities where the Liddiards have lived over the centuries. The first talk also led to a listing of books specifically relating to living in Wiltshire in the past, which I hope to be able to add to our website in the near future.

 23 January, the first live zoom meeting of 2023. With 40 members present, (plus over a dozen at our recorded meeting a couple of days later) our guest speaker was James Holden whose brilliant book on the development of Nonconformist Chapels in Wiltshire, “Wiltshire Nonconformist Chapels and Meeting Houses – a Guide and Gazetteer” was published in early 2022.
James’ theme for the evening was the development of chapel design from the 17th to the 20th Century. He also gave a very brief overview of the history of Nonconformity during this period of time, starting with the days of persecution following the restoration of the Monarchy and the Church of England after the Commonwealth period of history. Amongst other stories, he spoke of the Independent (Congregational) chapel at Tisbury, which had to be built by its members at night-time in 1726 to save detection.
Using pictures of County Chapels (both rural and urban) built in each of the four centuries, from Monks Lane Chapel near Corsham to North Bradley Baptist Church near Trowbridge, he described both the changes of developing styles and the similarities, such as the symmetry that can be observed in all but the most modern of chapels.  (report by Graham Warmington)

October 2022. "Brick Walls". There are now a variety of sources to help study family history – Ancestry, FindmyPast, The Genealogist, Free FMD, Free [Con], Family Search, Wilts FamilySearch, Genuki/Wilts, On Line Parish Clerks, Free FMD and FindmyPast combined, Ancestry DNA, newspapers – obituaries, weddings and the like (extracts through FindmyPast), Google and Facebook, WFHS journal, publications and library, members’ interests, Wiltshire BMD, tithe awards and manor records.

 If you are a WFHS member and are interested in being added to the mailing list, please send your name, membership number, email address, and county/country of residence to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. This will enable us to blind-copy the invitations of the meetings to you prior to each event. Please note – once you are on the list, your name will remain on the “virtual” list until you tell us otherwise or your membership of the Society ceases .

We are keen to have your suggestions for future topics or speakers. Send your ideas to Graham Warmington at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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