George English – Family History and Surnames

A man of many parts, George English of Kilmarnock Rotary Club, returned to deliver another excellent presentation to the members. This time his subject was ancestry and genealogy about which he has an astounding working knowledge, providing as he does a professional service on such matters. He is Director of Research Through People,  A professional genealogist with many years of experience of research in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland and other parts of the world. He brings the people, problem solving, quality and customer service skills developed during his career to his family history expertise. George has spoken at national conferences and published genealogical work in UK, USA, Europe and Australasia.

George explained how genealogical research brings ancestors back to life for their descendants and that the recent growth in interest in family research could be attributed to online search facilities and popular TV programmes. Effectively this allowed family members to “walk in their ancestors’ footsteps”.

Here, George demonstrated a piece of his own research by showing a slide with the surnames of the club members and grouping these according to their likely origins: occupation, profession, place of emigration, physical characteristics, nicknames etc.

There are many accessible sources available to researchers including census data, parish records, wills, cemeteries and gravestones but various factors often muddy the waters. Chief amongst these complicating issues are mass movement events e.g. highland clearances, war, famine and industrial urbanisation. Many of these were facilitated by progress in infrastructure development such as the building of the canal systems in the 18th century, the railway network in the 19th and the modern day roads network. Shipping through the ages has also been a major influence on population movements.

Backtracking from birth registration certificates is a fascinating pursuit and George has uncovered much of unexpected interest to his clients. Examples of some of these accounts can be found in his books on family history.

Jim Nelson thanked George for his interesting presentation which had been delivered in his usual very listenable manner.