May 062019

Ofhs members should think of visiting events to do with the 175th anniversary of GWR Didcot to Oxford railway line, Saturday 15th June 2019. Have a look at the following from the organisers of the events: –

Join us on Saturday 15 June for celebrations all along the Didcot to Oxford line!

The Didcot to Oxford Branch of the Great Western Railway opened in June 1844 and we’ll be celebrating its 175th anniversary with events at or near all five stations along the line – Didcot, Appleford, Culham, Radley and Oxford – on Saturday 15 June 2019.

The railway came rather late to Oxford, mainly due to opposition from the University which feared for the morals of its students. In particular it was very worried about providing undergraduates with easy access to London, where they might be involved in “improper marriages and other illegitimate connexions”. After several years – and two failed parliamentary Bills – the University finally dropped its opposition when it was agreed that its officials could patrol the station and physically prevent students from travelling to unsuitable destinations. Moreover, the Act of Parliament giving permission for the branch line stated that the Great Western could sell undergraduates tickets only to approved stations, and not to places like Ascot and Henley.

The opening of the line to the public on 12 June 1844 caused enormous excitement and great crowds gathered in areas adjacent to the railway. Thousands of people watched enthralled as the first public train arrived from Didcot:
“…one of those rampageous, dragonnading fire-devils … arrived at a sufficiently astonishing rate, and though gasping for breath and shining with heat, seemed to have turned not one hair more than was deemed proper by each spectator, even after its long and whirlwind chase.” (Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 15 June 1844)

Join us for an equally exciting day on Saturday 15 June. You’ll be able to buy a special GWR ticket to take you from one station to the next, and included in the price will be discounted entry to the Didcot Railway Centre. There it’ll be a special Steam Day, with locomotives which served on the Didcot to Oxford line on display. At Appleford’s steam-themed fête there’ll be a beer tent and barbeque; at Culham you can explore the 1844 Brunel-designed ticket office; and at Radley you’ll be able to hear story tellers relating tales about the village and the railway. At Oxford we’ll be based in Grandpont, very near the site of the city’s first (1844) railway station, and you’ll be able to enjoy rides on miniature trains, working model displays, exhibitions about the history of Oxford’s railways, and free guided walks to the nearby LMS swingbridge, a national Scheduled Monument.

Take part in our photo competition What does the Didcot to Oxford railway mean to you? from 19 April to 30 May. Fabulous prizes to be won! Further details at

For more information on all the celebrations visit or contact Liz Woolley on, 01865 242760.

Celebrations kindly supported by Great Western Railway, Oxford City Council, Greening Lamborn Trust, Brasenose College, University College, St Matthew’s Bridge Builder Trust , Oxfordshire Local History Association, Oxford Civic Society, the Railway Inn, Culham and Entikera Ltd.’

It looks a very exciting day.

May 062019

The second new family history event takes place on the 7 & 8 June at the NEC, Birmingham. A wide range of Family History Societies will be attending as well as a number of other organisations. Both days there will be a range of lectures covering a variety of topics.  Full details can be found at

OFHS will be attending what promises to be an exciting event. We will have our CD’s of Parish Records and Monumental Inscriptions on sale together with the full range of Black Sheep Books. We will also be providing a search service to help find that elusive ancestor. We look forward to seeing you.


Apr 302019

On Monday, 20 May, Mark Lawrence will talk to Oxfordshire FHS on:

Picture Oxon

Oxfordshire History Centre’s photographic archive traces its origins to the Oxford City Library of the 1890s in St Aldate’s. The archive rapidly expanded through the 20th century acquisitions of Taunt, Packer and Thomas collections, affording substantial coverage of our region, from Cotswolds to Chilterns and right through the Thames Valley. Gaining its first online presence via the Heritage Search website in 2007, our photographic archive now looks to Picture Oxon to provide a catalogue of 400,000 images of local people, places and buildings. Picture Oxon’s resources include not only photographs, but engravings, drawings and maps too. Our work of saving, collecting and recording photographic imagery of the county never stops, and the enthusiasm and effort of volunteers helps us to extend public access through the scanning and cataloguing of otherwise untapped collections. In future we look forward to more public involvement in our work, with sharing of content, effort and expertise, all directed towards a more effective capturing of our pictorial past and present.

Mark Lawrence is joint Manager of Oxfordshire History Centre, Oxfordshire County Council’s public archive and local history library. He has been a local studies librarian for over 30 years, starting his career in Barnstaple in the 1980s, with Devon County Council, working to improve access to local and family history resources for the previously isolated districts of North Devon and Torridge. Moving to Oxford in 1992, he supported the growth and development of the Centre for Oxfordshire Studies at Westgate, catering for up to 30,000 annual visitors at its peak. Restructuring in 2011 saw that service move from Westgate to Cowley, merging with the county record office, to form Oxfordshire History Centre, where the management of the photographic archive and the development of digital resources are two of his key concerns. Mark’s first brush with local history was as a schoolboy commuter into Bristol city cente, sparking off a long-term interest in photographic recording of the built environment. He vows he has at last transferred his allegiance and interest to Oxfordshire, but the family history ties to Bristol and Gloucestershire still run deep.

We meet at the Exeter Hall, Oxford Road, Kidlington, OX5 1AB, with the talk starting at 8:00pm. Doors open at 7:15pm, when there will be advisors offering computer and genealogy help, and tea and coffee will be available. Non-members are very welcome, though we have a charge of £2 as an entrance fee for them to contribute towards the hire of the hall and the costs of speakers.

A summary of most talks will appear after an interval in the Members’ Only Area of the OFHS website. Summaries of previous talks are also available in the same place.

Apr 232019

FamilyTreeDNA has another sale on for a few more days. If you are keen to get a DNA test, it is a good week. The male DNA tests are especially good value and if you want to upgrade to the ultimate Y-700 test, it would be worthwhile doing it this week.

Y-37 (males only) is $129 down from $169.

Y-67 (males only) is $199 down from $268 (we recommend this test for males with Oxfordshire ancestry on their surname line).

MtDNA full sequence (for pure female line ancestry) $149 down from $199.

FamilyFinder/autosomal test (for all lines back to 5th/6th cousins) $49 down from $79.

Upgrades from various Y-DNA tests already taken to Y-700 – prices vary from $399 to $217 (normally $599).

For anyone who has Oxfordshire ancestry on the appropriate line(s) being tested, then to join the Oxfordshire project and buy a test at the same time go to

For all other people new to DNA testing go to 

For those who have already tested with FTDNA and want to add another test, sign on to your account and select the ‘upgrade & add-ons’ button near the top right of your dashboard screen. (It makes sure your new test is added under the same ID). In general you will not have to supply a new sample, just pay for the test upgrade which will use your existing sample.

Queries on Oxfordshire DNA to

Apr 142019

Very excited to see our latest journal featured by Oxfordshire History Centre @OxHist on Twitter under the #Archive30 #friendship hashtags

Do follow Oxfordshire Family History Society’s twitter feed at @OXFFamHistory

Mar 292019

Oxfordshire Family History Society is holding its annual Fair in Woodstock, at Marlborough School, OX20 1LP, on Saturday 5 October 2019..  Do put it in your diaries now.

To date we have 24 organisations booked to attend with a wide range of expertise to share with our visitors.  For anyone who has not been to a fair like this before, the stalls are all concerned with helping people research their family history.

OFHS has done a large amount of transcribing of the Parish Registers, graves in many of the cemeteries, and war memorials throughout the county. These results are available on CD’s which are available for purchase. In addition, there are a range of books and details of plenty of details of other Oxfordshire families and their occupations. Other stalls will be offering maps, postcards and a wide variety of subject experts to ask for help.
As the Fair gets closer we will be highlighting some of the other attendees so do visit this site again.

The Fair is held in the main gym and the Marlborough Enterprise Centre and entry is free.  Easy access for all visitors and FREE parking makes it really easy to visit and with excellent refreshments available you can make a day of it.  Doors open at 10.00 hours and close at 16.00 hours.

We look forward to seeing you there.



Mar 262019

On Monday, 29 April, Michael Gandy will talk to Oxfordshire FHS on:

Name Lists of the 17th and 18th centuries

From Jury lists through Tithes to Oaths of Loyalty, most of our ancestors appear time and time again on governement and local lists. This talk explains many possibilities for researchers.

Michael Gandy has been tracing his ancestors since 1962. He is a Fellow and former Chairman of the Society of Genealogists and over the years has been on the committees of a great number of Family History Societies, especially those relating to London and non-Conformists, including Catholics, Huguenots and Quakers.

We meet at the Exeter Hall, Oxford Road, Kidlington, OX5 1AB, with the talk starting at 8:00pm. Doors open at 7:15pm, when there will be advisors offering computer and genealogy help, and tea and coffee will be available. Non-members are very welcome, though we have a charge of £2 as an entrance fee for them to contribute towards the hire of the hall and the costs of speakers.

Mar 252019

On Monday, 1 April 2019, Malcolm Austen will talk to Oxfordshire Family History Society (OFHS) and visitors on Apps for Family Historians, at the Exeter Hall, Kidlington, OX5 1AB, at 7:30pm (you’re welcome from 7:15pm).

Malcolm says that his talk is about ancillary Apps that Family Historians will (may) find useful during research trips. There will be a bias towards Apps that can be run on (and synchronized between) smart phones and desktops or laptops.

Non-members of OFHS are very welcome to come to the meeting!

For those who can’t attend, we hope to have a summary of the talk put in the Members Own Area in due course.



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