The Society meets at 19:30 on the fourth Thursday of each month (except August and December) at St Peter's Church Hall in Wisbech unless otherwise stated. There is a map of the centre of Wisbech to show the location of the hall.
We have a full programme, including speakers, members' evenings and outings. An archive of reports of previous year's meetings is available.

Current Meeting Programme


23 April 2015
WW11 Plus
Mike Petty

28 May 2015
Keep It Clean
Anne Barnes

25 June 2015
Annual Outing to a place of Interest

23 July 2015
To be announced
Liz Carter

August 2015
No Meeting

25 September 2015
AGM + Our President
Rev Wim Zwalf

22 October 2015
To be announced
Robert Parker

26 November 2015
Brick Walls
Festive Member Meeting

December 2015
No Meeting

Summaries of Past Meetings

January 2015

Researching your ancestors - Steve Manning - No report

February 2015

Writing your family history

Alan Johnson, Peterborough and District Family History Society

Alan gave an informative talk with lots of ideas and encouragement to get each and every one of us to write a family history to make sense of all the materials that we have gathered together. By way of encouragement he asked each of us to consider how much material we have that will be of no value to anyone else because only we know what is there.

Alan has written nine family histories so far and each one has started with a few basic questions. Who is the history for? – in the first instance Alan wrote a history of one person for his mother and aunts. What is the scope? – is it one branch, one individual or all descendants of a common ancestor? Where will you stop? – will you include information about you, your parents or children? Alan also asked people to consider sensitive issues and to be prepared not to include material that may cause distress; it may be possible to embargo that material until some time in the future.

On a practical note, how will you produce the information? – longhand and typing are probably impractical so using a PC is probably the best option as it is easier to edit and to add material as well as to circulate especially if you use Word or PDF rather than a publishing programme. You also need to consider the form in which it will be produced: a printed book or booklet which can be expensive; a CD or on the Web; Alan has used report folders for the printed versions of his family histories which have the advantage of being able to be added to or amended easily as well as using CDs.

Having decided to write the history, you need to be specific about the information that will be included in the history and be organised about the order. In the introduction indicate what will be included and what will not. Always include a family tree, acknowledge your sources and use illustrations where available and always be aware of copyright. If you have lots of information it may be appropriate to write a separate history of a spouse.

Alan recommended finishing the history with a sentence such as “That concludes all that I have found out about X so far” or with an anecdote.

Alan gave an interesting and informative talk, let’s hope that it inspires each of us to put together at least one family history ……………….

[Margaret Lake ]

March 2015

Members' Meeting: held on Thursday 26th March

Thirty members attended a lively meeting with individual members presenting family stories. The evening was organised slightly differently from usual. We had the members’ stories followed by tea or coffee and the evening finished with a presentation on George A. Ward 1780 – 1860, who lived and worked in Wisbech: Judi Upton presented a detailed summary of his life using a wide range of resources to illustrate and confirm the information. This included John Peck’s diary entries, newspaper reports, legal documents, wills and photographs.

Some ”distant” members sent information in and there were displays of information to look at.

We had a real variety of stories with lots of local names and places mentioned. We started with the tale of grandparents who lived apart in Spalding and Fleet; then we saw a wedding photograph of the Friend family taken in 1903 in the orchard area near Sandyland . Another member sent in a photograph of a wedding that took place in Elm between members of the Hunter-Rowe and West families.

Another member told the story of her great grandfather “Potato Joe” Bettinson who farmed in Outwell, Upwell and Friday Bridge: he pioneered the introduction of Scotch seed potatoes, sugar beet and carrots and was also renowned as a horse breeder and for pedigree cattle. Another tale was told of a night time skating party held on the Well Creek in 1912.

Another member told the tale of her father’s 22 year service in the Gordon Highlanders and about his decision to marry based on a photograph he saw while serving in India.

Bridget told some anecdotes about her family including one about her grandmother who decided to teach her husband a lesson by making it seem as if she had gone missing as the result of a fire. He spent hours looking for her only to find her safe asleep in her bed!

Another member showed us a report from The Times published in the 1830’s. Her ancestor had been interviewed to find out the effects of the new Poor Law which had had a really detrimental effect on living conditions. The interview was very detailed and gave lots of information about life and living conditions specific to her family.

After last month’s meeting when we were encouraged to “sort out our family histories” a member who was sure he had no local family had discovered an ancestor living in Guyhirn - he had done some further research and found out that he had originally come from the Buckinghamshire/ Hertfordshire area.

This is just a brief synopsis of what was a very interesting evening with examples of different ways of presenting a life story or an incident.

[Margaret Lake ]

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