Lesson in history a hit with visitors

Family History day event at Sheffield Univesity Students Union 'Prisoner Lucy Bernard from Buxton
Family History day event at Sheffield Univesity Students Union 'Prisoner Lucy Bernard from Buxton

IT WAS a family affair for many visitors to an Off the Shelf event in Sheffield.

Experts from Sheffield Archives were at Sheffield University’s Students’ Union to show off some of the city’s treasures - and give advice to people wanting to find out more about their own histories and origins.

Neil Bellamy, aged 60, with his wife Margaret had come from Dronfield as almost beginners to a hobby which is increasing in popularity all the time.

He said: “We only started to look at our family history just a few weeks ago.

“We’ve been looking at ancestry websites, but hope to look too in the Sheffield Archives’ records on Shoreham Street.”

Mr Bellamy said he had gone back as far as his great-great grandfather, but had hit what those in the know call ‘the 1837 barrier’ - up to that point, people’s details can be found in civic records and censuses - before that research has to be carried out in original parish registers.

Mr Bellamy said: “I discovered my great-grandfather was a silversmith, while another relative was a Little Mester who made penknife blades.

“I’m keen to go back as far as possible.”

Valerie Corkindale has been researching her roots for the last 15 years.

She said: “I’ve got as far back as just before the start of the 1600s and it’s taken a great deal of research. It’s a fascinating subject and it’s completely addictive.”

The 60-year-old, from Hackenthorpe, said she had found more than one black sheep in her family.

She said: “I found one relative who was hanged, while his son James was transported to Australia.

“The interesting thing is you can never find out 100 per cent of the story and there’s always another layer of history to peel back.”

Visitor Richard Miles, from Norton, said: “I am into local history, particularly in the area where I live.”

Kirstin Smith, from Sheffield Archives, said family researchers in the city had four miles of documents to explore.

She said: “We’ve been meeting people just starting their investigations and others who are more experienced, but are not sure where to go next.

“A lot of people don’t realise just how far back it’s possible to go.”