Jan 212017

…. to Family Wise Limited! The balloons, the party poppers, the cake…. it’s all here. That’s why it’s taken yonks to write this blog to celebrate our 1000th blog. We’ve been partying too much (if that’s possible!). Some years ago, our crazy MD jacked in the day job to be a family historian on a full-time basis. Winning No. 1 Rockstar (Superstar) genealogist for the UK just weeks after leaving teaching, how is it possible that we have since written 1000 blogs!?

Tonight, we have some unexpected goodies to share with you from Harry Fabulous Brown (who just featured on a UK TV show this evening, born 1999 Cheltenham) to Stephan Fabulous Allen (born 1993 Birmingham) and Fabulous Impressi Absoulutly who features in the US Public Records on FamilySearch, along with several other Fabulous Absolutely references! We’ve worked hard over the years to bring to you, our cherished readers, some eccentric and sometimes frankly bonkers finds…. so we thought, what better to do on our blogiversary than to bring you more!

Fabulous is undoubtedly a million times better than stupid, like Fanny Stupid Stephens, daughter of John and Frances Stephens, who was baptised at Portsmouth St Thomas in 1781 – what were they thinking?! The poor girl if/when she went to school!!! The number of idiots in the birth, marriage and death indexes is thankfully small but none-the-less, they exist – Idiot Fasuyi (born/died 1966), John (Idiot) Tyson (1719/20-1789/90) and Idiot Esther Vaughan (bp. 1877)?! You are most probably thinking “You cannot be serious….?” Oh we are!!! There are even two twats in Scotland!! [No further comment required.]

The pièce de résistance has to be Oh Poo. If we hadn’t seen it with our own eyes, we would not have believed it! Oh Poo died at sea on 26 December 1919 – male, aged 50:

oh Poo

[Sorry for the delay in writing this blog. It should have been posted last weekend but, we have been busy changing lives, reconnecting long lost families and finalising the adminstration of estates, until ludicrous o’clock. There are only so many hours in the day and something had to wait…. this blog had to be it. Apologies to our avid readers and thank you for following us for so many years. We hope you will be understanding and our MD says that she will make up for it in a few weeks when she’s jetting off to RootsTech. She certainly won’t be quiet on the blog front then!!!]

Jan 082017

Over Christmas and New Year, many businesses (and their employees) took a complete break. Some closed for ten days (weekends and bank holidays included). Not us…. frequently, our work at FWL cannot stop. Some cases, yes. But searching cases, no…. Many readers who follow us on social media will have seen our big success of the festive season, locating the father of a friend, in the Philippines. As Michele wrote in her blog on LinkedIn, we just didn’t give up. Even when presented with very solid brick walls, we were not to be beaten and our tenacity paid off.

Over the course of the last week, we have had an enormous increase in business with over a hundred documents being certified in three days on various heir tracing cases. Our clients keep telling us that we could “teach the other companies a thing or two” [we’ve had that comment from several clients in 2017 already]. As MD, I have been out of the office a fair amount to manage flat clearances and we have had many unexpected client meetings, solving family myths for local people in Calne. As I mentioned in last week’s blog, over the course of 2016, I have reduced the frequency of the blogs and this has mainly been due to the level of work and therefore lack of time to post! However, the next blog I write will be a milestone….. our 1,000th blog. How is that even possible?

FWL was founded in 2012 and, following my Superstar (Gold Rockstar) Genealogist Award in September 2013, this site was vastly improved and I began, on my web designer’s advice, to blog daily. How I managed that for so long, heaven knows!!! There are times when I can do more (for example, the forthcoming RootsTech Conference) but also times when, like now, it’s tough to even find time once a week. It’s not that there isn’t anything to say. I could waffle on for England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and possibly several European countries…. There just isn’t enough time to sit down and write for long enough…. without the telephone ringing, an email coming in, a Facebook message which interrupts the train of thought…. you know the drill! Don’t get me wrong…. happy with the busy-ness of the business.

So, before the 1,000th blog comes around…. what would you like to see in our 1,000th blog?? We have lots of ideas…. but we’d love to hear yours….. Oh and if anyone feels they might want to pen us a testimonial, we are all ears. We are ‘beefing up’ the website soon and we’d really like to have some more comments/feedback from our customers/clients to add into the mix and show people why FWL is so special and “simply the best…. better than all the rest” [Credit, Tina Turner].

Dec 312016

Each year (for the last five), at this time of year, my genea-mate Jill Ball (@geniaus) invites genealogists across the world to reflect on their geneayear and rejoice in our successes. She directs our thinking with twenty key statements/questions, with some people responding to all of them and some choosing a selection. I will fall into the latter category….

The most obvious question to start with is about a geneadventure I enjoyed (19) and that has to be my first visit to Salt Lake City to RootsTech in January/February 2016. Prior to planning our adventure (that’s me and my genea-mate, Sylvia Valentine), I had never really locked in to the US genealogy conference scene. Although I had applied to speak at a few, my name was clearly not well-known enough in the States so bookings were not forthcoming. RootsTech was different. With no idea of what to expect and no real plan, I suddenly found myself as an Ambassador to the conference and also a speaker, thanks to Jill, who was running an Ethical Dilemmas in Genealogy panel discussion. Without going through the entire experience, chapter and verse, I met up with so many previously ‘online-only’ genealogy connections and founded lasting friendships along with highly productive research relationships! Sylvia and I enjoyed the experience so much that we are heading back to Salt Lake City again in 2017. This time, I will be leading several classes and, once again, taking on the role of Ambassador (the only UK Ambassador, again!!).

The question about a journal/magazine article I had published was (13) one which struck a chord. In years gone by, I was a prolific writer for magazines around the world. 2016 saw a change in focus with less frequent blogging and more time being devoted to research and education, the latter more through lectures/classes, rather than in the written form. I still love writing but the difference I can make to others through research is what I am passionate about…. So, no articles really to speak of, but that’s all fine!

I taught many genea-mates how to (14) use Snipping Tool and Family Historian this year. Although Snipping Tool is not rocket science it has certainly changed the speed at which case notes can be produced when speed is of the essence. No more ‘download – save – open – crop – paste’ required and a simply ‘one-step’ manoeuvre to get what we need. In 2014, I met Jane Taubman on the Unlock The Past cruise from Sydney and she gave several talks on Family Historian. I was not wedded to a family history package at the time and, when Family Historian Version 6 was released, I jumped on the bandwagon and have not looked back. Of course, at some point in the future, I will need to go back into the archives of my research and enter all of my data, as well as disposing of all the paper copies of censuses and such like, which can now be saved more simply in an electronic format. Genealogy Do-Over might occur for me in my retirement!

The final question “I made a new genea-mate who …” (8) is a very challenging one for me. During my career in genealogy, paths have crossed with several ‘grand fromages‘ as well as many people who consider themselves to be ‘minnows‘ in the pond. Everyone has something to offer and, as has been said on a number of occasions this year, the sandpit is big enough for everyone to play in. Some genea-mates paths have taken a different course and we are not as connected as we used to be – that happens – and some people have had challenging years and had to edge out of the genea-arena for various reasons. In my usual non-conformist way, I am going to twist this one slightly and honour all my genea-mates who have had such a big impact on my year. You know who you are.

I am really excited about the year ahead. Lots of plans afoot already (speaking and travel-wise), new friends to meet and friendships to rekindle with genea-colleagues around the world. As Geoff Rasmussen says, “Life is short. Do genealogy first!” I’d highly recommend it!!!!

Best wishes for a Happy Genealogical New Year in 2017!

Dec 242016

christmaswishes“…to be jolly, Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!” Now is (apparently) the time to slow down (a little) and enjoy some time away from work. Members of our team have plans ranging from hosting family at their homes to going away to spend their festive season with friends, and everything in between. For our part (me and Mr FWL), we are spending our Christmas season visiting family but the day itself, is time for just us. We enjoy our work, although it can sometimes be overwhelming with emails, texts and calls from dawn until dusk and onward. So, we take the opportunity (at this time of year) to spend time together without the phone ringing for work purposes [unless my home landline number is mistyped and we are asked for a taxi!].

This year has been a very busy one and things have changed dramatically for FWL since Christmas 2015. Looking back, it’s almost unrecognisable, in fact! The world of family history continues to evolve in (more often than not) positive ways but also with certain issues which continue to plague our realms. Some things don’t ever seem to change!!

What will make the genealogy news of 2017? Which new records sets will be made available online? Who would have guessed that the 1939 Register would have made such a massive difference to our research during the last year ….? Which records have made a huge impact on your family/local history searches this year? What breakthroughs have you made in 2016?

2016 has seen closer relationships developed between FWL and many business partners across the globe which will, we are sure, continue to be fruitful for all in years to come. May we take this opportunity, as a team, to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and all good wishes for the New Year to come.

Dec 182016

…. but FWL is more than history. It’s more than family history. It’s more than social history. It’s about people.

Every week, maybe even every day, we hear the world ‘scam’. We write to people to tell them that a relative has passed away. Sometimes people have been notified. Sometimes they haven’t. Sometimes the connection is so close that the deceased is one of their parents and they frequently are not aware of their departure. That requires compassion…. and, we are told, our competitors lack this skill.

This weekend has been one of the busiest weekends of the year. We have family history binders ‘coming out of our ears’, beneficiaries wanting updates on cases, people needing to be traced and new commissions coming in left, right and centre. Looking back at where we were twelve months ago, FWL is almost unrecognisable. Many of the calls we have received over the last week have begun with dubiousness and ended with a deep desire to learn more about their previously unknown family history and garner a connection with their extended family members. We have always had a positive reputation in the field. Now, that reputation is concreted and recognised across the world. We are a force to be reckoned with.

During the week, we have had many plates spinning from a case being heard in the High Court to clearance of a flat in Surrey and a narrow-boat in Berkshire. We have often wondered, over the last few years, if other companies work in the same way that we do and we now know that they don’t. Other companies are not as honest as us. Would you believe that some other companies don’t disclose the estate they are writing/speaking about??!

Other companies do not provide the service we do. They do not do what they say they will do. 2017 is going to be even more amazing than 2016, for you all and for us…. have no doubt!

You and me got a whole lot of history

We could be the greatest team that the world has ever seen

You and me got a whole lot of history

So don’t let it go, we can make some more, we can live forever


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