The next FIBIS residential conference celebrates the society ‘s 20th birthday and will run from Friday 28th to Sunday 30th September at the Hawkwell House Hotel in Iffley, Oxford.  We have lined up speakers on a range of topics which we hope will fill in some gaps and encourage delegates to pursue their own investigations.

There will be opportunities over the weekend to consult FIBIS and other experts on individual research problems, and also to view examples of past FIBIS transcriptions and research results and to browse a gallery of photographs.

There will be some tutorials; such as research or practical advice on the use of the FIBIS and other websites, and in contributing to FIBIS database, Wiki and Gallery

We will also have space for discussion groups on specific topics of common interest suggested by delegates and run by themselves.  And of course there will be time to network with fellow delegates.


The event will start at 13.00 on Friday with an open forum session and other tutorial or discussion opportunities.  Formal lectures will begin at 14.30.  We will have afternoon lectures and one shorter after-dinner lecture.  There will be a full day of talks on Saturday, including an after-dinner speaker, and two further talks plus a plenary session on Sunday morning.  The conference will close at 13.00 on Sunday.

Not a FIBIS member?    Join FIBIS today and benefit from the reduced member rate.

Booking Options

Residential options are now sold out. All available Day Delegate options are listed below.


Price per person includes morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea as well as all lectures and workshops on the day.
FIBIS member £45 Email [email protected]
Non-member £50 Email [email protected]


FIBIS member £80 Email [email protected]
Non-member £85 Email [email protected]

HALF DAY  ATTENDANCE (no accommodation)

Price per person is for either Friday afternoon or Sunday morning and includes morning or afternoon tea or coffee and all lectures and workshops on the half day.  
Friday pm Sunday am
FIBIS member £25 –  Email [email protected] £25 –  Email [email protected]
Non FIBIS member £30 –  Email [email protected] £30 –  Email [email protected]


Conference activities available from 13.00 on Friday 28th

Including book sales, 1:1 advice; introductory workshops (subject to demand); displays of FIBIS achievements; message board; opportunity to network.  These will continue to be available throughout the weekend.

13:30 Richard Morgan will host the open forum session, dealing with questions from delegates.  He has long been fascinated by British India and has edited The Diary of an Indian Cavalry Officer (Pagoda Tree Press 2003) and written FIBIS publications Fact Files No 3 Indian Directories, No 5  Graves in India and Research Guide No 3 British Ships in Indian Waters 2nd edn 2017, as well as articles on British India for the FIBIS Journal, Chowkidar and Family Tree.

14.30 Pat Scully, FIBIS Chairman will welcome delegates and introduce the conference team.

Friday ‘s talks will look briefly at FIBIS achievements, and then at personal family research: through personal and official documents, DNA to identify and establish genetic links, and a rather unusual focus: mealtimes!

FIBIS President Peter Bailey will deliver the introductory lecture of the conference.    Trustee since 1999, Chairman for many years and always enthusiastic promoter of FIBIS, Peter has helped to build FIBIS into the successful family history society that it is today, having worked in every role except treasurer!  He has delivered many lectures over the years and produced two of the four FIBIS research guides.  He began his own research journey by investigating the activities of eight direct ancestors who lived and served in the military in India and will share some of the excitement of discovery.

Debbie Kennett is an Honorary Research Associate at University College London. She is a regular speaker on DNA and surnames at both national and international events. She is the author of two books, DNA and Social Networking and The Surnames Handbook, and has written many articles about DNA for family history magazines. She will talk about finding family with DNA and using DNA as a tool in family history research.  There will be some scope to consult Debbie individually.

Jenny Mallin will talk about the story behind her prize-winning cookery book ‘Grandmother ‘s Legacy ‘.  So much more than just a cookery book, it shares her moving experience of connecting with earlier generations of her own family by researching and recreating the meals that they enjoyed.  The names, ingredients, and even the spelling will strike a chord with many of her listeners.

Saturday 29th

Since this is the centenary of the first World War, and since so many of our families have or had a military connection at some stage, Saturday talks will largely focus on military matters. These include the Indian army, recruits from among Anglo-Indian and India-based Europeans, the Gurkha Regiment and some involvement from current regiments whose earlier members saw action in India.
We then move on to reporting, not of the second world war, but of its almost immediate aftermath: Independence and Partition.

David Edge will discuss the origins of the Times of India Project, its history, the contribution of volunteers, the process and how it evolved, and the statistics and results.  David will also be attending the full conference and is happy to answer further individual questions from delegates.

Hedley Sutton will advise on Researching the Indian Army in the First World War: sources in the British Library.  Hedley has worked in Asian and African Studies in the British Library for thirty years, and since 1999 he has managed the small team which provides the front-of-house and remote enquiry service for this part of the Library ‘s vast collections. A historian by training, along with his colleagues he deals regularly with a wide range of family history enquiries received from all over the world. He also finds the time to contribute occasionally to the Library ‘s ‘Untold Lives ‘ blog.  Hedley may also deliver a tutorial session on accessing the India Office records.

Geraldine Charles, FIBIS founder trustee, experienced researcher and speaker at family history events:  To mark the centenary of World War 1 Geraldine will report on her most recent project to identify Anglo-Indian and  domiciled  European soldiers recruited in India to fight in WWI and honours their contribution at that time.

The project was inspired by a medal she acquired for her earlier talk “ Poppy Fields and Ebay”.

Lunchtime lecture: Gill Blanchard, member of AGRA, is a historian and full-time researcher, tutor, lecturer and author. She is an expert on family, house and local history, and has been a professional family history researcher since 1992.    She derives great enjoyment from passing on her knowledge to other people and does so in an accessible way.  Her talk will give us a glimpse of the work that goes on behind the scenes at ‘Who do you think you are? ‘    Subject to demand, she may also  deliver a writing tutorial.

Major General (Retired) J C Lawrence CBE, military historian, author and lecturer on strategy at the Royal College of Defence Studies, will speak about Britain ‘s Gurkhas, from their initial recruitment in 1815 through to their service in today ‘s armed forces.  He published The Gurkhas: 200 years of service to the Crown in 2015 and is currently working on a commemorative history of The Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR) for  publication in 2019.  The locations of his military career provide a colourful backdrop for his works of adventure fiction which, perhaps not surprisingly, also include Gurkhas! You can find out more at:

Dr Philip Woods is a lecturer in history at the New York University in London whose specialisms include British Imperial and Colonial History.  He has a particular interest in the role of war correspondents, newsreel and newspaper reports and will offer a view of Independence and Partition according to the visual record provided by British newsreels and international photographers.

Jan Leeming We are delighted to announce that Jan Leeming, newsreader, presenter and television personality, is our guest speaker on Saturday evening.   Her own family links with India date back to the 18th century.

After retiring from newsreading, she continued writing, presenting and acting, introducing musical events and producing corporate training videos.   More recent appearances include the ‘Real Marigold’ series,  reality shows and physical survival challenges.   She has travelled extensively throughout her busy career.

Closer to home, she is very active in support of charities, including the Allied Air Forces Museum and the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust Fund.

For more detail view:

Sunday 30th

Picking up the thread of wartime experience, but viewed once again from the perspective of family and a distant theatre of war, the first lecture on Sunday morning looks at Burma.

Jean Ellis ‘s family, like so many others, left their lives and homes in Burma when the Japanese invaded during WW2.  In her book ‘Goodbye Burma ‘  she uses family documents, personal anecdote and detailed research to reimagine the experience of leaving at this chaotic and dramatic moment in history, the approaching end of empire. She follows individual family members as they ultimately risk a long and arduous journey to reach the safety of India.  Longlisted for this summer’s People’s Book Prize.

Diana Quick – Diana Quick started her career while at Oxford, where she was the first female president of the O U D S. She has played at the National Theatre, The Royal Shakespeare Company, The Royal Court and extensively in the West End.

Probably best known as Julia Flyte in Brideshead Revisited, she continues to work across film, TV, radio and theatre. Recent theatre includes Electra at the Old Vic, Babette ‘s Feast at the Printroom, and Mother Christmas at Hampstead Theatre. She was Molotova in the film The Death of Stalin, and has just been exploring the last wild woman of the woods in Thea Smiley ‘s new play The Last Woodwose at Hightide Festival.

She translated and performed de Beauvoir ‘s Woman Destroyed in London and New York, published by Faber. Virago has published an essay she contributed to 50 Shades of Feminism, a survey of where feminism has got to in the contemporary world, and her memoir A Tug on the Thread, an investigation into her father ‘s hidden childhood growing up in colonial India.

For 7 years she was Director of the Aldeburgh Documentary Festival.

Saturday ‘s after-dinner speaker and further arrangements for Sunday will be confirmed at a later date.

Pat Scully will run the final plenary session of the weekend.

Conference will close at 13.00.

With thanks to our sponsors

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