‘History is the warm, vital, progressive setting forth of the doings of live people’    Suzy Swift, U.S. Salvation Army

Putting your Ancestors in their Place: a guide to one place studies

By Dr Janet Few


A One Place Study involves dissecting a small, definable, geographical area, to examine the individuals, buildings and processes of the past, in as much detail as possible. Our ancestors did not live in isolation. Family historians often focus on the nuclear family. Local historians might concern themselves with events, buildings and famous residents. To better understand our ancestors, they need to be ‘put in their place’, by investigating the community of which they were a part. To bring the history of a locality to life, it should be populated with ordinary people. A One Place Study brings family and local history together, to the benefit of both fields.

Ranging from how to choose your place, through locating sources and collating your data, to publishing your findings; this book is suitable for experienced researchers as well as those new to One Place Studies. Elements that a One Place Study might incorporate and sources that could be used, are explained in this book. Although sources are described, it is not primarily about the sources themselves. The emphasis is on how these records might be used and projects that the one place researcher might undertake.

One Place Studies are not just about indexing documents and collecting data. Ultimately they are about using that data to answer questions about a community, its residents and their lives. They are about making connections, between individuals, between inhabitants and locations and between people, places and events. In this way, it is possible to gain an insight into the lives of past residents and shed light on issues such as household composition, occupational structure, migration patterns and residential persistence. This book suggests some of the ways in which this might be done.

‘Its Marvellous!’ P.S. (on Twitter)

This is a good grounding for those undertaking One Place Studies anywhere. The resources are obviously aimed at those within England and Wales, but that itself can give rise to contemplation of what similar records exist in your location where ever you or your study are in the world.  I personally recommend this thoroughly researched and comprehensive guide to anyone who has an interest in understanding the places in which their ancestors lived.’ Julie Goucher

Published by The Family History Partnership Paperback

Price £7.95.

£10 including UK p&p, £14.00 including air mail postage to USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand.

For other destinations please enquire.

These postage rates apply if ordered from the author, Janet Few  Customers may pay by Paypal using this email address.

The Family Historians Enquire Within

Updated by Dr Janet Few


The last edition of this book was published in 1995. Since then, family history research has changed beyond all recognition, not least because of the internet. It is a tribute to the volume’s usefulness that, despite the many innovations since it was produced, the last edition was still the one book I would turn to when asked to man a family history ‘help desk’. An update was long overdue and I am honoured to have been involved in such a family history classic.

This book is not designed to tell you everything you need to know. Instead, its purpose is to point you in the right direction, so you can find out more. The number of people who have been involved in this and earlier, editions means that the entries are wide ranging and have a variety of regional slants. We have aimed to be as comprehensive as possible but inevitably, there will be topics that some feel are missing. We hope however that we have covered everything that most family historians will require. Equally, in the fast moving world that is family history of the C21st, new books and websites will be appearing all the time. We have endeavoured to be up to date and indeed additions were still being made to the ‘A’ entries as we worked our way through later letters of the alphabet.

‘It should be on every serious family historian’s bookshelf’    R. R.

This is one of the most generally useful genealogical books on the market. In dictionary format, it provides clear sign-posts to point you in the right direction at every stage in your research David Gilligan

‘If you only have one Family History reference book on your shelf, this is the one you need’ Pharos Tutors’ Newsletter

Paperback 242mm x 172mm 294 pages Published by The Family History Partnership 2014

Price £12.95.

£14.75 including UK p&p, £23.00 including air mail postage to USA or Canada, £24.00 including air mail postage to Australia or New Zealand.

For other destinations please enquire.

These postage rates apply if ordered from the author, Janet Few  Customers may pay by Paypal using this email address.

Coffers, Clysters, Comfrey and Coifs: the lives of our seventeenth century ancestors

By Dr Janet Few

Our seventeenth century ancestors may be people that we can identify, or they may be lurking, nameless, waiting to be discovered. In either case they existed, therefore we owe it to them to find out more about their way of life. This book sets out to provide an all-important context for these ancestors, ancestors whose detailed biographies probably elude us. Dr Janet Few has made good use of contemporary documents to put together an overview of life in the time of the Stuarts, concentrating on the lives of ‘ordinary’ folk, rather than the aristocracy.

Here you can discover what those Jacobean ancestors would have worn, what they would have eaten and how they would have lived. There is a chapter on medical practices and one on the medicinal use of herbs, complete with handy ‘cures’. Next time you are suffering from plague or a pain in the head you will know where to turn. Other sections cover gardens, crime and punishment, witchcraft, leisure and festivals.

The book is fully indexed and lavishly illustrated with photographs and contemporary engravings. There are also extracts from seventeenth century books offering recipes and household hints.

Throughout the book are explanations of phrases such as ‘humble pie’ or ‘sleep tight’. You can learn who was straight laced and why, how to roast a calf’s head and how to bleach linen. Having read this book, it is possible to appreciate the mental and physical demands of the housewife’s role. What also comes across is how hardworking and versatile our Jacobean ancestors had to be.

‘The Family History Partnership’s latest publication is Janet Few’s Coffers, Clysters, Comfrey and Coifs, and it’s a bit of a gem. … Each [chapter] is packed with anecdotes and moments to make you think “Oh that’s where that comes from!” – the window originally being the ‘wind-eye’, to allow air and light in, the ‘chairman of the board’ originally being the person who sat at the chair on the end of the table or ‘board’, and so on. … This is the first book I’ve read to tell me about the roll of the “piss prophet”, a job that makes me extremely grateful that I have taken the career route that I have! Each chapter is not only beautifully illustrated in colour throughout, but also ends with a further reading list to take your understanding of the topic in question further.‘     Chris PatonBritish Genes

‘It is a book that can be dipped into for reference or read cover to cover: a most enjoyable and interesting read and a must for the family historian’   Cornwall Family History Society Journal

‘Janet’s book, as to be expected, is exceptionally well researched, easy  to read, yet packed with information. It is nicely illustrated with modern colour photographs and black and white woodcuts. A nice touch is the use of inset quotes from contemporary sources, which add so much to the book without interrupting the flow of the text. If you’ve ever wondered what a ‘Bilbo’ is, wanted to make fritters of sheep’s feet’ or puzzled over that dried stag’s penis that has been handed down through the generations, then this is, most definitely, the book for you.’   Isle of Wight Family History Society Journal 

‘For those of us fortunate enough to have traced our ancestors back to the 1600s, this book is a “must have”. …. The subjects covered range from household furniture and equipment to cooking, clothing, childbirth, crime and cures for all ills. The alliterative chapter headings make you want to reach for a dictionary – until you realise that all is revealed within the detailed text.  How many of you have heard of clysters, jumbles, bum rolls or bilbos?’    Devon Family Historian 

‘Whether you like to read a book cover to cover, or dip into random chapters, this book presents a rich flavour and a well balanced portrait of seventeenth century life. You will find yourself stepping into the boots or clogs of our Stuart ancestors and walking in their footsteps. Coffers, Clysters, Comfrey and Coifs is a book that has been well written from an amazing wealth and depth of research and knowledge. It is easy and pleasurable to read and I whole-heartedly recommend it to all readers, male and female, of any age. It will both entertain you and leave you feeling well-informed.’   C.E.

‘This is a book that works on several levels. It is a good read if you wish to sit and immerse yourself in the day to day experiences, chores, and challenges that faced our ancestors in the seventeenth century.  It wears its scholarly research lightly and manages to impart information in a lively and interesting way. It is also a good reference book; use the contents page in conjunction with the index.  From birthing to cause of death, via crime and punishment, food and clothing and the never ending cycle of a woman’s work; it is all here. As a book to dip into it also scores.  Found a will listing medical paraphernalia? Look at Chapter 6 – and never complain again about the modern NHS!  Visiting a seventeenth century building – how did they live here? Chapters 1 and 5 (homes and furnishings & gardens and gardening) provide the answers.’    D.G.

Paperback 247mm x 173mm 136 pages Published by The Family History Partnership 2012

Price £12.95.

£15.20 including UK p&p, £18 including air mail postage to Europe, £17.80 including overseas surface mail, £21 including air mail postage to USA or Canada, £21.30 including air mail postage to Australia or New Zealand. For other destinations please enquire.

These postage rates apply if ordered from the author, Janet Few  Non UK customers may pay by paypal.

The book is also available from The Family History Partnership

’Till Death Do Us Part

by Dr Janet Few2590261

One thing that all but our most recent ancestors have in common is that they are dead. The diseases and accidents of our ancestors are an integral part of our family history. This booklet examines a wide variety of possible causes of death for our ancestors, describing their symptoms and prognoses. It also suggests records that may be used to provide information about how an ancestor died. A time line is included, outlining some major British epidemics. In the absence of a definite cause of death for a particular individual, we can at least gain an impression of the major killers of their time. We owe it to our ancestors to pay tribute not just to their lives but also to their deaths.

Available in hard copy or in digital format.

Faith Fish Farm or Family?: The Impact of Kinship Links and Communities on Migration Choices and Residential Persistence in North Devon 1841-1901

Doctoral Thesis for The University of Exeter 2009

Uproar and Disorder?: the impact of Bible Christianity on the communities of nineteenth century North Devon Family and Community History Journal Volume 12 No. 1 May 2009.

October 2010 – February 2011 a series of 6 articles on seventeenth century social history for Family Tree Magazine.

Caroline Verney with Janet Few, Is blood thicker than water? Farm servants and the family in nineteenth-century north Devon Local Population Studies Journal 91 Autumn 2013

Who Lived in Cottage Like These?: the inhabitants of Bucks Mills

Written with Rebecca Few. A cottage by cottage residential history of the fishing hamlet of Bucks Mills. Available from the author £5.00, £6.15 including postage to the UK, or from the Braund Society stand on Parish Chest.

Before Braundsworthy: the Braund Family History 1000-1550

References to the Braund name before 1550. These are set in the context of the events of the time. A5 28 pages illustrated and indexed. Published by the Braund Society 2012.

Available from the author, £2.50, £3.05 including postage to the UK, or from the Braund Society stand on Parish Chest.

So Soon Passeth it Away

A history of one branch of the Braund family, through 250 years. So Soon Passeth it Away was a prize winning entry in the Millennium family history competition, run by The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies.  Available from the author or from the Braund Society stand on Parish Chest.

Volume 1 Cornish Origins

Volume 2 Across the Tamar

Across the Tamar’ is the second part of This volume follows a branch of the Braund family as they leave rural Cornwall, in the early years of the nineteenth century. Every attempt has been made to place the characters in their local and national historical context. Here the story of the Braunds is viewed against a background of life in the Victorian navy, work in Plymouth dockyard, emigration to America and incidents such as the cholera epidemic and the Opium Wars. This book should be of interest to those whose families share aspects of this background, as well as members of the Braund family. The book also provides a good example of how a successful family history can be written. The book is fully indexed and illustrated, with maps, photographs and family trees; a list of sources is included.

A5 80 pages Published by The Braund Society 2003. Available from the author, £5.00, £6.15 including postage to the UK, or from the Braund Society stand on Parish Chest.

Volume 3 The Cargreen Odyssey

Volume 4 In the Shadow of the Iron Horse

‘If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us!’  Coleridge

13 comments on “Publications

  1. […] also purchase the book Putting Your Ancestors in their Place, A Guide to One Place Studies by Janet Few. I tried to buy it from Amazon but could not. So I contacted Janet and purchased a […]

  2. […] at Who Do You Think You Are Live in London 2014. Copies are also available from the author at, ISBN – […]

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