Lostwithiel Area u3a
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Family History

We are a friendly group who help each other with our "brick walls"; sharing information & the use of various web sites to help our research. We now meet - either physically or by Zoom - on the third Wednesday each month at 10:00. Please also see the "CORONAVIRUS" update below

If you would like to join our group do please get in touch; you are welcome whether experienced or completely new to Family History as 1:2:1 guidance can be given.

                                                  CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 

Update October 2022: As from our 19th October 2022 meeting we're moving to a mixed format of meetings - some "physical" face-to-face & others Zoom - the latter mainly when we have Speakers.  Our next Speaker meeting is 16th November 2022!                    

We're also trying out a new venue & have booked the Lerryn Memorial Hall for October as it now boasts good wi-fi connection!

The likely format will continue to be a speaker event every 2 or 3 months with an "experience-sharing session" about our various research experiences in between. We will also be looking at visiting Kresen Kernow, the Cornish archive centre for a guided tour on the 8th February (this will replace our usual Feb meeting)

Please contact David Platt for details.

Contact the Group Leader

Group Contact: David Platt

Telephone: 01208 873792 or mob 07484 124490

20th March 2024

Badged as a "private research" session but, following last month's talk from CWGC, we first looked at their "Evermore" project which enables family stories of those who gave their lives in the wars, to be uploaded - we then continued with some update "hints 'n tips" & also the "matching" benefits of registering for Rootstech which then links you to other cousins who've done the same! Di also shared her new "timeline" discoveries via familysearch which indicated relatives travelling not just to America & Australia around 1850-1875 but also New Zealand which she'd previously had no idea about. 

Bren is leading our April meeting on Weds 15th - again devoted to "private research" & sharing successes &/or seeking further help!

21st February 2024

Rebecca Smith, Commonwealth War Graves, entertained us with her knowledge, expertise & enthusiasm bringing the sheer size & value of their archives to life. The Foundations determination to commemorate the 1.7M who gave their lives in the Wars came across strongly as well as the wealth of information contained on the gravestones themselves.

Another well attended meeting. Next month, on Weds 20th March, we will revert to our private research with the opportunity to share successes & assist each other with our "brick walls"!

17th January 2024

What a lunch 20 of our Group enjoyed at Cloisters - just great to socialise & have time to chat to each other! This was to celebrate the month in which our Family History Group was formed - an "anniversary" which we will continue to enjoy commemorating!

1st December 2023

A "extra" meeting this month! 11 members were treated to a superb workshop on DNA - understanding the terms & theory together with its interpretation. We all learnt such a lot from Emma Simms whose passion for Genealogy is palpable. A truly fascinating & memorable session! 

Our January 17th meeting is our "anniversary" lunch at Cloisters, St Austell. Again, details from me although you will need to act quickly to secure a placement!

15th November 2023

16 members enjoyed a first-rate speaker, Dave Annal, talk about "Walls come tumbling Down" explaining his methodology for dismantling 'brick walls". He's a very experienced Genealogist  &  the "nuggets" came pretty think & fast - fortunately, with his permission, we were able to record his talk. Please contact me if you want a copy.

19th October 2023

Our "resident expert genealogist", Bren kindly hosted this meeting! Not surprisingly, the somewhat stormy weather did impact attendance somewhat. However those who were able to attend did enjoy some private research time with Bren's expert guidance.

Our next meeting on 15th November is a Zoom Speaker event. Dave Annal, a very experienced presenter is to talk about "Walls come tumbling down" which should appeal to many whether experienced or relatively new to Family History.

"Heads-up" also for a very special event on the afternoon of 1st December at The Red Store. Emma Simms, an expert on DNA & it's uses in family history research, is leading a 4 hour seminar. Full details will be sent nearer the time.

20th September 2023

The meeting today was all about "getting back in the groove" following our summer recess!

We completed a couple of Family History quizzes in teams of 2's & 3's - one supposedly "easy" & the other "moderate' - in reality most of us needed to research some answers on the internet but, in reality, this was all part of  getting back inot research & I think we all learnt something!

Our next meeting is Wednesday 18th October at Lerryn Memorial Hall 2-4pm & is to be hosted by Bren.

21st June 2023

This meeting was held in Lerryn Memorial Hall & included a “refresher” on DNA - well at least the basics. We plan to built on this at a later session & actually have a closer look at the results that are received & how these can be interpreted.

We also discussed possibly changing our meeting time - it was felt keeping the same day was desirable (i.e 3rd Weds in every month) built maybe making this an afternoon meeting - I will canvass opinions!

We now have our “summer recess” until September 20th but, in the meantime, have a social buffet lunch planned for August 16th at Polmena House, Lostwithiel. All members will be invited!

17th May 2023

Stephen Dyer, u3a subject advisor gave a Zoom talk on FamilySearch as there has recently been a fairly radical overhaul of their site. This site is completely free & has a phenomenal amount of entries listed & other very useful reference material. Consequently this is a good “starting” point for many in their family research.

19th April 2023

15 of us were given a fantastic guided tour of the DCLI Museum, Bodmin. Despite this being "on our doorstep", many of us had never been & what an amazing treasure trove of artefacts we've been missing!

We spent nearly 2 hours being shown around by our knowledgeable guide &, even then, it was just an introduction & summary of what they have to offer. This is not called "the best military museum in the South West" for nothing. The even better news is that our entrance included a free pass for the next 12 months & I'm sure many of us will be revisiting!

Our thanks go to our Group member, Colin Morris, for arranging this outing.


15th March 2023

A “private research” session held in Lerryn Memorial Hall & lead by Bren giving those attending the chance for some individual help & advice. For some of us, it’s quite a while since we tried to progress & “flesh out” our own ancestral research!

We’ve had another 1/2 dozen or so new Members join us following the u3a Open Day so we look forward to welcoming our meetings soon.

Next month is a much-awaited tour of the DCLI Museum at The keep, Bodmin organised on our behalf by our members Colin `Morris. 

8th February 2023

What an exciting & worthwhile trip to Kresen Kernow , Redruth - home of the Cornish archives! A stunning building sympathetically restoring the original Redruth Brewery. Our guide, Tamsin, was so enthusiastic & passionate about KK & her work - it certainly was catching! 

Now that we’ve seen what’s on offer, I know several of our Group intend to visit again under their own steam & carry out their own research. Fascinating stuff!

18th January 2023

We held a very well-attended Quiz in Lerryn Memorial Hall which, irrespective of the prizes, many found was instructional & added to their own knowledge of Family History! We followed this with a buffet lunch - suppled by our Group members - to celebrate the "anniversary" of our formation. As is often the case in our Group, food/drink play quite an important part in the "social" side of our meetings.

Next month is our "Special Trip" to Kresen Kernow on 8th February 2023 where a guided Tour has been organised & includes...yes....lunch afterwards!

16th November 2022

A Zoom meeting, again with a good attendance including some further new Members - welcome Stephen Worth, Tim & Katrina Smith!

Originally, it was intended that this be a speaker event with Roger Hancock revealing his "famous" Cornish ancestor but sadly Roger was admitted to hospital a few days before & we all wish him well! The opportunity was therefore taken to have an informal discussion to inform some of the topics which will will explore (or re-explore) in the near future. Many thanks for the contributions to what turned out to be a very useful, albeit impromptu, session!

No meeting in December as this would be in Xmas week so our next meeting is Weds January 19th & is a Quiz & late New Years lunch party!

Compliments of the season to all!

19th October 2022

Our first "physical" meeting post-Covid which took place in Lerryn Memorial Hall!  

Bren lead this meeting which included plenty of "hands on" practical for all Members & their laptops! FreeBMD was examined in detail with own & close family members being located. Also some of the more advanced features were investigated such as reading & adding "Postems". A valuable introduction/refresher for all.

We were also joined by a new Member, Colin Morris - who has expertise in Military History - & is a most welcome addition to our "happy band"! Next month is a Zoom Speaker on 16th November.

17th August 2022

Our summer social buffet event was well-attended with almost all Group members being able to come along - in many cases with partners. This resulted in a jolly little "throng" (please excuse the oxymoron!) made more so as we happened to be most fortunate with the weather! We really are a merry bunch - absolutely nothing to do with the food & drink consumed!

Due to holidays, we're extending our summer break for another month & our next meeting will therefore be on 19th October 2022. Were moving to a mixed format of face-to-face & Zoom meetings & our October meeting is a FTF one in Lerryn Memorial Hall 10-12:00.

15th June 2022

Today we looked at Wills/Probate & the wealth of information that can be gleaned from these documents.It's exciting to think that these often contain the actual "words" of your ancestors - giving you a unique insight into their lives. Starting with some legal terminology, a basic understanding of the Will-making process & how they are registered &, ultimately, "proved"; we moved to how these can be searched & ordered for a very reasonable cost. Bren shared some examples of Wills which certainly demonstrated their research value in "spades".

Our "summer recess' start now - social buffet to be held for members on 17th August - & we restart on 21st September!

18th May 2022

Many thanks to Bren who led this session with her presentation of the "3 Frees" - FreeBMD, FreeReg & FreeCen. Used to their full extent, these sites offer a wealth of research material. Hopefully we will be able to resume physical meeting in the autumn & carrying out some practical examples using these site was an excellent suggestion from Linda Haycox. 

Bren, being our "resident genealogist" continues to offer 1:2:1"s with members of our Group for which we're also most grateful!

6th April 2022

11 of our Group attended an exclusive "Lostwithiel Tour" organised by our friends at Lostwithiel Museum. John Pegg was our principal guide & what a mine of information he is! It was also fantastic to realise the social history & the development of the Town which was once very influential (& affluent!). Those of us living in the area are indeed fortunate! Many thanks John!

After the 2-hour tour, John joined us in a pleasant lunch at the Royal Oak which was only our second "social" event in about 2 years & much enjoyed by all!

16th March 2022

"Breaking down Brick Walls" was the topic for this meeting with a presentation which focussed on the 3 main record sources - Births, Marriages & Deaths! This explained some of the basis of collection for this information & therefore how errors or misinformation may affect your research - causing dead ends! The plan is that we will integrate other aspects in to this series & a "Wills" presentation is "threatened" later in June.


16th February 2022

We were very pleased to welcome back Roger Hancock as our Speaker. Roger is something of our "foreign correspondent' having helped keep the group informed on several past occasions. He also runs 3 Family History groups in Southwell, Notts!

His topic was "WikiTree' & Roger clearly explained the features & scope of the site which is effectively the creation of a "global family tree". Many "handy tips" were included to help us make more of the site & we were all impressed, due to the various incorporated protocols, with the "promise" of more accurate family trees! We're now all motivated to explore WikiTree for ourselves - thanks again, Roger!

19th January/2nd February 2022

2022 started with a "bang" for all genealogists. The 1921 Census was released! So, having attended a National Archives online seminar, I was able to summarise the content & new features of the collection. The 2nd Feb was a "Mini- masterclass" where several of us had a more in-depth look at the Census material & shared our experiences.

At January's meeting, we we're also fortunate to benefit from Bren's Reviews of the "new look" family search site - most of us has simply not been aware of all that was now available. I recommend a look!

15th December 2021

As unfortunately our Speaker was unable to attend, we had an informal "Coffee & Mince Pie" chat over Zoom. I can report that not all the Mince pies were "virtual & that some of the coffee was ....well not coffee!! Good time had by all!

17th November 2021

Again a good Zoom attendance learned from Malcom Haycox the merits & importance of Gedcom. This allows you to maintain control of your precious ancestry data & converts it into a portable form to allow transfer between your chosen research websites. Thanks Malcolm for a very useful presentation & the promise of a "demo" at later stage. I also presented an illustrated talk on "Workhouses" as this touched the lives of many of our ancestors just a couple of generations ago!

20th October 2021

Our autumn/winter program started with as Group Q & A session.

Q's were submitted by Members & added to some general ones with an occasional "quiz" Q to test the Group's knowledge! Many topics were covered from Adoption, Parish records, military service records, aspects of social history & use of GRO to name but a few! I think everyone learnt something new at this well attended Zoom meeting!

Next month (17th November) includes Presentations on "Gedcom & also "Workhouses"!

18th August 2021

This was a landmark meeting as it was the first time we'd physically met for 18 months! We celebrated with an outside "social buffet" at Polmena House where, I'm delighted to say, we "entertained" 18 members & guests. Whilst the skies were somewhat overcast, the same cannot be said for the mood of those attending who made the most of the opportunity to meet-up- several of whom were new members who joined following Bren's decision to move to Zoom last December.

Although the "Newsletter" is on its Summer break- I managed to persuade "the editor" to produce a "special edition" containing some photos of the event which was circulated to all!

Please remember no meeting in September, so we resume Wednesday October 20th; we are planning to explore new meeting venues to accommodate our increased numbers & I will advise in due course. Happy Summer to you all!

21st July 2021

Mike Johnson, leader of Wollaton, Notts u3a spoke about "Experiences During Wartime" in which he traced the lives of several of his relatives & the impact that WW1 &/or WW2 had on their lives. His talk covered a lot of ground & clearly represented a tremendous amount of research on his behalf using a plethora of sources. "Bringing our Ancestors stories" to life is an enduring theme which drives many of us in our quest to explore our own family history.

August meeting is a social one on Weds 18th August & represents the first time we will have met since lockdown 18 months ago; it will also be an opportunity to physically welcome our new members. I just hope the weather co-operates!!!

16th June 2022

An interesting session today with contributions from many members of the Group. Principally we were benefiting from Members experiences of specialist family History software. Di & Bren shared their knowledge of "Roots Magic", Christine P discussed "Family Tree Maker" & Malcolm Haycox gave us an insight into "Gramps" & "MacFamily Tree".

Bren then shared her knowledge of FamilySearch taking us deep into the search records to show where Parish records are kept- there is a plethora of information on this site & She has promised to show us even more that she's discovered in furture meetings.

Restrictions willing, we are planning a social event in place of the August meeting.

19th May 2021

Roger Hancock was our Speaker again, this time giving us the benefit of his extensive knowledge on Researching Military Records". He really does have a wealth of information to impart & we were very grateful for a copy of his slides & details of the websites that he recommended. Roger also ran a DNA Q & A session after the main event for those in the Group currently interested & gave a further 1/2 hr of his time!

Thanks again Roger- we wish you an enjoyable summer break!

We are also running an "opinions" survey of our Members to establish pointers for the way we operate going forwards as/when restrictions ease further.

21st April 2021

I'm delighted that three of our members contributed to our "Family Stories" session this month. We were treated to some special family memories from Rob Brigg's visit "down under" to pursue his prominent Australian relative which resulted in yet more "local" research & discoveries: Malcolm Heaven related the tragic tale of an ancestor killed in a mining accident- the inquest report demonstrated all too clearly the lack of real concern for an "industrial accident" in the mid19th Century &, more importantly, the value of a life!

Finally, Chris Dimond told us about the Cornish relatives he never knew he had; they came from Polruan just a relatively short distance from where he decided to live in Cornwall! The head of the family was a Master Mariner & Chris has also researched the boats he captained & the coastal journeys made to Wales where Chris was born!


17th March 2021

Another well-attended Zoom meeting. Stephen Dyer gave us a well-documented talk entitled "The Future of Family History Research" which certainly activated the "old grey cells". Who'd have thought that the u3a organisation is becoming one of the largest Family History resources with over 500 different Groups!

We start to look at our own "family stories" next month & have 3 contributions form our own Group already lined up for an interesting session!


3rd March 2021

A superb Zoom "DNA Masterclass" was conducted by Roger Hancock (Leader, Southwell u3a) on 3rd March for a sub-group of our members. They were very interested to learn how to interpret & gain the most from the plethora of information presented by Ancestry following a test. Whilst we are not experts, we are at least much more informed. Thanks you Roger!


February 2021

Our monthly Zoom Group session looked at our DNA testing with input from those who had already taken a test together with the sharing of David's results!

This was followed by an illuminating talk from our Group member Di Morris, explaining the methodology behind the organisation of her research records & showed she had put her time in "lockdown" to good use! Thanks again Di!


January 2021

(updated 20/1/21) We held our first Speaker event today with Stephen Dyer, u3a Genealogy Advisor, giving a detailed talk on "Genetic Engineering" which was well received by the group.

Importantly, we also recognised Brenda Meads' tremendous contribution to the Group over the last 8 years with a bouquet & card containing tributes from all members. I'm also pleased to report that 3 new people & another former member have now joined the Group bringing the total membership to 15 

Our next meeting is via Zoom, February 17th @ 11:00 with the group sharing their own experiences of DNA testing. 


We have "embraced" Zoom in order to recommence contact with each other & have held a couple of successful meetings to discuss the way forward. Various members of the Group have volunteered to help with some of the Admin work to allow Bren to step back a little although she will still be a very enthusiastic & supportive member & her experience will not be lost to the Group as she is keen to continue 1:2:1 help etc where required.

We have a Zoom speaker event on January 20th 2021; subject "Genetic Genealogy" looking at the use of DNA testing to find family matches/establish ethnicity & reviewing the current marketplace for testing. This is planned to be one of a series of Zoom talks in the coming months until we can safely resume our FTF meetings.



In October the group usually meet up again after the summer break, unfortunately this year we cannot resume our meetings for the time being.

This month I gave them a task  to find what information they could on William George Edge  who was born in 1899  in Greenwich, I'm trying  keep their researching skills from getting rusty.



Start of another year of hunting down our ancestors, David told us he  has found some interesting information on Family Search about his ancestors, some going back many generations, there are photographs of people and houses where some of them lived, this is a very good find for him.


Morning Group

Today we were discussing various ways we store the paper information collected i.e BMD certificates, Census Return, Baptismal Records and any other information we print. Keeping our research in folders, scanning photographs and naming individuals in those photographs, writing a short story about an ancestor including all the evidence found while researching the person.

Also we looked at various Family History programmes, some are free to download others need to be purchased, this is another way of keeping track of all the information found, I gave a short demonstration on how the family history programme I use works

Afternoon Group

We were talking about the lives of our ancestors who fought in WWI and WWI, and the various we found the information about them.


Afternoon Group
Today, before we continued with our own research I did a talk on wills explaining what can be gleaned from this very useful source. Showing an example from my own research on how the will I found confirmed the information I had found in the records.

Morning Group
This meeting I gave a talk on Parish Records, also showing various types of records from the 1600's to the present day for the group to see how differently records were kept and the difficulty in reading some of the handwriting in days gone by.



Morning Group

After our summer break we had a memory jogger meeting, going over what was discussed earlier in the year.

Afternoon Group

After the summer break we did our own research to get us all in the mood for researching during the coming months