Monday, 16 March 2015

Genealogy in the Sunshine conference - day 1

We're now well underway at Genealogy in the Sunshine in Portugal's Algarve, the second Lost Cousins ( hosted event at the Rocha Brava resort, and so far shaping up to be as much fun as the previous event in 2014.

The weather is every bit as good as last year, the wine is every bit as cheap, and most importantly of all, the craic is right up there with the first event!

However, I really think I amy be getting a wee bit ahead of myself here - so before I recount the day's proceedings, please first meet some friends of mine! :

(Also at

This year we have a fair few more attendees, with something like 90 folk in all including partners, though only delegates are attending the genealogy conference side of things. My wife and kids are here with me, and all the same presenters from last year - Else Churchill, John Hanson, Debbie Kennett, Donald Davis and myself - and a few more, including John Reid from Ottawa and Donna Fraser from Vancouver, as well as Prof. Rebecca Probert, not to mention our host and MC, Peter Calver from Lost Cousins.

The main thrust of the programme is the afternoon based lectures from 2pm-6.30pm each day, but there is an optional morning session also, with a chance to catch up on some of the talks from last year - although today in fact started with a panel discussion comprised of Else, the two Johns and Debbie, with the topic being the Genealogy Proof Standard.

At 2pm, Else then kicked off the afternoon sessions with a look at how to try to get over brick walls that emerge in genealogy research, followed by Donald's lecture on the creation of the Victorian censuses and the discovery of some surviving 1841 household schedules, which he compared to the equivalent 1841 enumerators returns, putting to bed once and for all the idea that an enumerator's return is a 'primary source' - it is anything but, lots of differences between what was originally recorded and what ended up in the books we see today on sites such as Ancestry, FindmyPast, etc!

After a short coffee break, John Hanson provided an overview on FamilySearch, and then yours truly got stuck in with a look at Scottish marriage records, and the very different way that marriage law worked in Scotland, as compared to England (which Rebecca will be looking at later in the week). Of special note was Peter's very generous participation as a sun blind at one point, as the Portuguese sun temporarily got the better of us!

A great start to the conference, with a great crowd - roll on Tuesday, which is also Paddy's Day! Here's a few pics to illustrate the day...


For details on my latest book Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, and my other genealogy guide books please visit To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at

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