After three hours of non-stop chatter on Friday, whilst single-handedly womaning the registration desk at the Guild of One-Name Studies conference, my errant voice had all but deserted me. This did not bode well for my presentation on Sunday. Cue throat sweet overdose. To be fair, there were others assigned to the registration desk but they were needed at the main reception to welcome folk in, leaving me to fling bags and badges at what seemed to be a never ending stream of delegates alone. I took a much needed break and attempted to learn more about autosomal DNA with Barbara Griffiths. Having been hard at work all day, we forewent the pleasure of one of Alan Moorhouse’s fiendish quizzes and repaired to the caravan.
The following day, it was back to the melee by 8am in order to greet the new day’s delegates. We were provided with our room ‘key’ (card), which bizarrely depicted Peppa Pig – nope, no idea. The chance to actually inspect said room was not forthcoming. During the AGM, I was surprised and honoured to be presented with a Guild ‘Award of Excellence’ for an article I had written about a member of the Braund family, whose census entries were an amazing work of fiction. I was very glad that fellow awardee, Marie Byatt, was also in the audience. At least this spared me from smiling inanely at the camera, clutching my award, on my own.
The first presentation of the day was Suzie Cox who told us about the archives of the P & O company. This was followed by Ian MacDonald’s story of the Mewburn family. I then chaired Kim Baldacchino’s session on the Navy in Malta. There’s another destination on the future holiday list then. The final presentation was by Michelle Patient from New Zealand, with some interesting insights on migration. The two hour special general meeting that followed meant that preparations for the banquet had to be swift and we finally got to inspect our room. We were provided with water (free) in an £8 bottle and a coffee making machine but no kettle. We never did tackle the learning curve that may have allowed us to boil water in order to a) fill a hot water bottle or b) dilute ginger cordial (good for non-existent voices). Despite leaving the banquet at what for most people would have been an early hour (the middle of the night by my estimation) sleep eluded me.
After no more than two hours sleep I was required to be alert and audible enough to give my own presentation. This actually seemed to go remarkably well (I did at least stay awake). I promised to pass on a few websites from the talk, although the complete handout can be accessed here. Three of my favourite finds were the British Southern Whale Fishery database, with 13,500 entries from 1775-1859. The details are mainly taken from The National Archives’ Board of Trade records. Then there is the list of Lost Trawlermen of Hull. Finally a record of Hastings’ fishermen, which not only provides a list from 1623 but also records nicknames of later fishermen. How do you fancy being related to these characters: Tambourine Jack Cobby, Hard Pudding White, Rum Cheese Tassell, Whip-me-naked Gallop or Licksnot Sutton? Bob Cumberbatch followed on with a session on Caribbean surnames. We then had video presentations from Peggy Chapman and Tessa Keough on Canadian and US records and the day ended with Jean-Marc Bazzoni entertaining us with tales of the London Dock Police. All in all another great weekend, the best part of which was the opportunity to be amongst friends.
Next up a couple of days’ rest. Rare is it that I can describe days with Edward as a ‘rest’ but sandwiched as they were between the conference and Who Do You Think You Are? Live, they did seem comparatively restful. So, I have helped to pitch tents, identified wildlife and spent a day at the Birmingham Think Tank. This was followed by a trip to L**l’s for supplies. A staff member trundled by with a large wire trolley full of yoghurts and other goods to be put on shelves. Regular readers will remember that Who Do You Think You Are? Live is, for us, not infrequently accompanied by wheels falling off things (see 2013 and 2014) and yes dear reader the wheel fell off this trolley leaving groceries descending or suspended precariously. A fisherman of my acquaintance leapt to the rescue and was to be seen supporting trolleys and grovelling on the floor trying to refix wheels. Meanwhile I continued shopping and attempted to remain unobtrusive. P.S. I am still shamelessly touting for an audience for my two Who Do You Think You Are? Live talks on Thursday, especially the one at 2.15 in the Education Zone, which does not yet appear in the programme – come and find out how to inspire young people to take an interest in history – this one is free!