Our quarterly journal "Berkshire Family Historian" (free to all members) is packed with information.  Some of the most interesting contributions are Members’ articles about their genealogical journey and the things they unearthed during the research.

Here is our archive of those articles.  It’s a constant work in progress, with new articles being added each quarter, and older ones over time as we extend the archive back to the earliest days of the journal.

We’ve thrown in a few articles from organisations such as the Berkshire Record Office and – unashamedly – some plugs for products you can buy from the shop to help your research

How to Write Up Your Family History

I began writing up my family history about twenty years ago. I wanted to turn my research into a story which included something of what life might have been like for my ancestors. One driver for this was an eager audience within my family who, I suspected, would be quickly bored by a list of dates and places.

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Dating a Photograph – an Unusual Approach!

Mick Henry becomes a detective to date this image. For some years I have had a photograph of a shop my parents worked in and the property they lived in which was attached to it, in Shurlock Row. We think, because of the angle of the shot, it was taken from an upstairs room over the road from the property, maybe Mortimore’s Stores.

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A Most Extraordinary Coincidence

David Moseley tells us what can happen when you search the internet. Family history can sometimes throw up some interesting stories and coincidences. One evening in 2017 I came across a notice in the London Gazette which surprised and intrigued me.

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Missing Pieces of the Jigsaw – Second Cousins Once Removed Unite!

Liz Butcher tells how a chance email brought a new relative and answers. Imagine my delight when an e-mail arrived one evening via Ancestry.com asking if I had any information to help with a family tree.charming person who had contacted me – Anne – proved to be my previously unknown second cousin once removed and there followed an exchange of information from which we both benefited.

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A Drake Dynasty or the Richard and Roger Saga

Paul Bryant unveils his confusing lineage: In the September 2018 edition of the Berkshire Family Historian there was an interesting article on the Civil War and its protagonists. Of course, there were many other side events taking place that are of more interest to the family historian.

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What Happened to Albert?

Lynne Smith tries to unravel a family mystery: Albert James Henry Peever/Cope/Kalvi was the brother of my paternal Grandmother Nellie (nee Cope).

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The ‘Ghost’ of Reading Cemetery

SHOCKING SUICIDE – A man named Robert Ghost, lodging at a cottage in Brook-street, committed suicide on Tuesday afternoon by cutting this throat. He was a pensioner, and latterly had been in a low desponding way, but it was not anticipated that he would lay violent hands upon himself. He partook of a hearty dinner on the day in question and was left alone in the house about half-past two o’clock

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Queen Victoria’s Visit to Bracknell, and The Relief of Mafeking May 1900

I recently posted some pictures on the Bygone Bracknell Facebook page. Members helpfully identified the locations, and there was a great deal of interest in two particular images dated 19 May 1900 and featuring many Union Jack flags.A faint caption said “Queen Victoria passed through … Celebration of Relief of Mafeking, S. Africa”.

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What did You do in the Great War?

This phrase was often used to shame men who didn’t fight in the Great War, but what of the women and children in those times? I have already researched the exploits of my Berkshire male ancestors in the Great War (BFH vol. 39 December 2015) but when I was recently handed a certificate given to a young girl in 1916, this set me thinking about what children did to help the war effort in those times.

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Henry Marriage Wallis – a Reading Benefactor

Henry Marriage Wallis – although a name likely to be unknown to many – had several prominent roles during his time in Reading. Henry died on 10 November 1941 leaving his substantial estate (£27436 11s 9d – equivalent to over £1million in 2018) to his three surviving children.

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Ancestors in Debt

Debt has at least as long a history as the concept of money: long before personal banking became the norm, every community has had a few individuals who lent out money to their friends, family and associates.

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Tiny St Nicholas Church, Sulham, packed for the 2019 Remembrance Service

Tiny St Nicholas Church, Sulham, was packed for the 2019 Remembrance Service where special tribute was paid to Winifred Helen Burtenshaw. The congregation heard the Revd Heather Parbury describe Winifred’s life before the outbreak of war and her subsequent service and tragic death as a VAD.

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Olivia Colman, the Bazett family and the Reading Connection

Katie Amos follows up on an episode from the 2018 series of Who Do You Think You Are?

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Sulham Village – The War Years – Part Three

In this the final instalment, Jean Harland continues her recollections of living in a rural village during World War

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James Benjamin & Charles Collie Butler: Soldiers of WW1 – Part 2

What then happened to Charlie? Charlie had concluded his letter of 22 October 1915 by informing his parents from Plymouth that “we are going at 12 o’clock this morning”. We learn later that his Unit had been posted to Egypt. He sent to his young brother Jack a Christmas card showing camels and a desert […]

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A Witchcraft Accusation in 17th Century Reading

In 1634, Reading was a medium sized town well positioned for trade with good water and road transport links. Woollen cloth production employed nearly one third of the town in the early 17th century and some people made a lot of money. There was a decline in this trade over the century with depressions in […]

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Kintbury St Mary Parish Registers CD

Kintbury St Mary CD includes Baptisms 1558-1953, Banns 1754-1932, Marriages 1557-1981, Burials 1558-1972.

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News from the Berkshire Record Office

What new archives are now available at the BRO? What’s going on at the BRO? World War One Exhibition

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The Royal Berkshire Medical Museum and Archive

The Museum is open to the public on the first and third Sundays in the month from 2.00pm to 4.30pm. It is open at other times by arrangement for group bookings (please phone 0118 9549371). See below for specific archival enquiries.

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Berkshire War Memorials Edition 2

This updated version has added approx.150 more memorials including many Commonwealth war graves. Of the CD content 56% now has images including all the new memorials and many more of the Edition 1 entries. The disc provides a variety of finding aids. Edition: 2018

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The Impact of the English Civil War on Berkshire’s Records

For many family historians the issues with parish registers during the English Civil War and Interregnum are a brick wall. Catherine Sampson explores these issues in the parishes in and around Reading, and also highlights a few of the many opportunities within this period.

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How do I find my Irish ancestors?

It is a popular belief that researching your Irish ancestry is not for the faint-hearted. Drawing on recent research, Derek Trinder offers a brief overview to help you to start a journey into your Irish ancestry

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James Benjamin & Charles Collie Butler: Soldiers of WW1 Part 1

James and Charles Butler both responded in early 1915 to the call to arms and volunteered for army service. Jim was 17 and Charlie was 15. They were amongst some 2½ million men who joined the British army voluntarily between August 1914 and December 1915. This is their story

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Reading Local Studies Illustrations Collection

The Reading Central Library’s illustration collection is one source of photographs that the Berkshire Family Historian uses to illustrate its articles. In case you hadn’t realised that such a thing existed, or that it is easily viewable online, and that you can have your very own copies too, here is a little bit more about it.

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Ancient Oak? – a postscript

I came to the article ‘Ancient Oak?’ by David Wooldridge and saw that it was about HMS Foudroyant. I thought “I remember seeing Foudroyant moored in Portsmouth Harbour when sailing there in the 1970s and 80s. It was a dismasted warship of Nelson’s era used as a training ship.”

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A rather splendid clock and barometer mounted in a wooden anchor graced a wall in my Grandmother’s house and was regularly tapped by everyone passing through the middle room. One day my Grandmother told me that the wood was oak from a famous warship. Here is the tale of a once famous ship – HMS Foudroyant

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Berkshire Baptisms (2nd Edition)

– Over 250,000 baptisms – Over 777,000 names – 102 parish and non-parochial registers of the “old” Royal County of Berkshire. Update available for first edition

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Berkshire Burials (12th Edition) CD

More than 900,000 transcriptions (not an index) – More than 270 churchyards, cemeteries, burial grounds and workhouses – 71,000 more entries than 11th Edition – Covers ALL of ‘old’ Berkshire – Updates available for ninth, 10th and 11th editions

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Berkshire Marriages (4th Edition) CD

More than 900,000 transcriptions (not an index) – More than 270 churchyards, cemeteries, burial grounds and workhouses – 71,000 more entries than 11th Edition – Covers ALL of ‘old’ Berkshire – Updates available for ninth, 10th and 11th editions

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Berkshire and the War (2nd Edition)

Images from the 39 parts of Berkshire and the War published by the Reading Standard in 1923. Nearly 12,000 names, over 700 civilian organisations together with many of the Army regiments,

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Berkshire Probate Index, 1480 – 1857 (CD) BFHS

Wills are a valuable resource for family history researchers and are particularly important once the research progresses back into the parish registers and we no longer have the censuses to provide confirmation of family groupings. Berkshire Probate Index: an index to the probate documents of the Archdeaconry of Berkshire 1480 to 1857

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An Historical Atlas of Berkshire

This new edition is almost half as large again as it’s predecessor (published in 1998), with 74 articles on Berkshire’s history (and pre-history) from the Palaeolithic period to the twenty-first century, each accompanied by specially-drawn maps in full colour, and with numerous illustrations. Most of the original articles have been revised and updated, and many […]

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Berkshire Probate Index

Index to the probate documents of the Archdeaconry of Berkshire. 39,000 probate records are included. It is easy to search or to browse.

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Historical Atlas of Berkshire (2nd Edition)

74 articles on Berkshire’s history (and pre-history) from the Palaeolithic period to the twenty-first century, each accompanied by specially-drawn maps in full colour, and with numerous illustrations.

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Berkshire Maps, Ordnance Survey Maps, First Edition, 1881-1887

6 inch to the mile scale, first edition OS maps of Berkshire, scanned from the set held at Berkshire Record Office

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Berkshire Coroners’ Inquests, Index to, 1688-1926

It is generally thought that papers relating to Coroners’ Inquests have been lost. However, the Berkshire Record Office has evidence of over 10,000 inquests between 1688 and 1926 – all of which are indexed on this CD. Edition: 2009

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Conservation of Broadmoor Archives

Following September 2008’s opening of the Broadmoor archives to the public, Mark Stevens of the Berkshire Records Office describes some of the challenges facing conservators

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Berkshire Overseers’ Papers

Records dating from before 1834 arranged by Poor Law Union. Includes all the volumes and a master index.

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Reading Borough Police registers at Sulhamstead

The museum at the Thames Valley Police Training College at Sulhamstead contains an exceptional collection, including uniforms and equipment, and accounts of notorious crimes committed in Berkshire in Victorian times. The Metropolitan Police Force was created by Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel in 1829, but it took another 27 years before counties and boroughs established their own police forces. Reading was more progressive than most towns, establishing its own force in 1836.

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Berkshire Family History Society works to meet the needs of those researching their ancestry across the UK and overseas – as well as those looking for former relatives in historic Berkshire.  You do not need to be a member to benefit.

The society offers:

  • Research Zone in central Reading that is free to use and open to all

  • Free access at The Centre for Heritage and Family History to online resources like FindMyPast, the 1939 Register, The Genealogist, the British Newspaper Archive and Ancestry (the worldwide edition)

  • Regular free help and advice sessions

  • Meetings in Abingdon, Bracknell, Newbury, Reading, Windsor and Woodley — open to everyone

  • Online discussion list for members  informed answers to research queries and advice from experienced researchers

  • Members’ Area with data and other information not readily accessible elsewhere

  • Indexes and transcriptions of Berkshire’s historic records on CD — parish registers, probate documents, monumental inscriptions, maps, First World War history and more

  • Quarterly magazine, the Berkshire Family Historian, for members

  • a chance to join in project work, recording, transcribing and helping to preserve records

  • Links to the research experience, advice and support of members worldwide

  • Opportunities to volunteer and so help others with their family history