Family History Society

Contact: Michael Lucas - Thanet Branch Chairman 01843 841228


Kent Family History

Sadly the Birchington Family History Society is closing at the end of 2019.


Are you interested in what you might discover about your family history?

Would you like to learn how to go about it?

Or do you have an established interest in family history?

Come and meet us!

We are the local branch of the Kent Family History Society, covering most of Kent. Many of us do not have Kentish ancestors, but just like family history! We meet most 3rd Wednesdays of the month in the Village Centre, Birchington, at 7 for 7.30 p.m., with speakers on family history and related subjects, usually illustrated. Many of the speakers are established names, with books and appearances on TV to their credit. Our members receive a quarterly journal and attend all meetings for free, whilst members of the public are welcome to attend for £2 a time. We also provide a Members’ Help Desk for family history advice and a selection of other societies’ family history journals.

Programme 2019

16 January –Our family at war

Peter Ewart

20 February -Hospitals-their records and how to find them

Lady Mary Teviot

20 March -The Huguenots (The 16th & 17th century Protestant refugees from France & the Low Countries)

Michael Gandy

17 April -Every-day life in medieval London

Toni Mount

15 May –Annual General Meeting, followed by members’ talks (to be advised)

19 June -Lord Cardigan (The notorious leader of the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimea)

Godfrey Beer

17 July -The founding of the R.A.F. and the early days of Biggin Hill

Bob Ogley

August -no meeting-possible excursion (to be advised)

18 September- Death & taxes: understanding the death duty registers

Dave Annal

16 October-The life & times of Edith Cavell  (The nurse shot by the Germans in 1915 for assisting Allied prisoners to escape)

Melanie Gibson-Barton

20 November -Electoral records and poll books

Else Churchill

Report from Thanet Branch Kent Family History Society for November 2019

Else Churchill spoke on electoral records and poll books. Before the 1832 Reform Act, the franchise was not only very restricted, but varied enormously between constituencies- generally just freemen in boroughs and property owners or substantial tenants for the counties. The limited reform of 1832 was followed by further Acts in 1867 and 1884 which extended the vote to male householders. This was followed by Acts in 1918, giving the vote to all men over 21 and women over 30, and in 1928 to all women.

Secret ballots were only introduced in 1870. A 1696 Act required poll books to be kept and published, showing who had voted and for whom. Unfortunately it did not stop intimidation of voters as intended! Many such books survive and can be an invaluable source for finding ancestors up to 1868. Whilst they do not give relationships, they may give occupations, as well as parishes or, later, addresses, and qualification to vote. As well as poll books, electoral rolls, kept from 1832 can be very useful. Else recommended the Gibson Guides for more information. Electoral rolls are in local record offices. Some poll books and electoral registers and Absent Voter lists for 1918 servicemen have been digitised and indexed.

Sadly, except for the members only Christmas party, this was the last meeting of the Thanet Branch. Ten years ago we had a larger and younger membership, with fourteen people on the Committee or otherwise assisting - today simply a committee of six, with a number of us struggling with serious health issues. The Canterbury and Deal branches of K.F.H.S. continue, and full details of their meetings can be found on the K.F.H.S. website.

11 December -Members’ Christmas Party

Kent Family History Society, Thanet Branch - Farewell Christmas Party December 2019

Thanet Branch had its Members’ Christmas Party at the Village Centre as the last meeting before closure. 24 members enjoyed a buffet and raffle, paid for from previous raffle profits. Quizzes were kindly provided by Ann Lucas and Janet and John Robinson. The Branch Chairman advised that, sadly, branch membership numbers had declined and the average age increased in recent years, leading to more and more work falling on a similarly reduced and ageing Committee. He recalled the branch’s many good times, with many memorable talks and trips. Absent friends were also remembered, and thanks given to present and previous members of the Committee and others, who had put so much effort into the branch. For the future, members were encouraged to attend the neighbouring branches in Canterbury and Deal. Full details of their programmes - which are also open to non-members - can be found on the Society’s website.