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FIBIS 20th Anniversary Conference – Book now!

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.

PRIZE DRAW: Upgrade to superior room:  The hotel has some superior rooms and FIBIS are offering a free upgrade as a prize to 5 delegates.  Names will be drawn from bookings made during the early bird period, up to 31st March 2018.

Booking Options

All booking options are listed below or you can pay a £50 deposit now with full payment required by 30 June 2018.

FULL CONFERENCE (Friday-Saturday-Sunday)

Price per person includes dinner on Friday, accommodation on Friday and Saturday nights, breakfast, morning coffee, lunch, and afternoon tea on Saturday, Gala Dinner on Saturday evening, breakfast and coffee or tea on Sunday morning as well as all lectures and workshops held on Friday afternoon, all day Saturday and Sunday morning.
  Early Bird £ If booked after 31st March  2018   £
Single FIBIS member £305 £335 BOOK NOW
Single Non-member £325 £355 BOOK NOW
Double/Twin FIBIS member £225 £255 BOOK NOW
Double/Twin Non-member £245 £275 BOOK NOW


Price per person includes morning coffee, lunch, afternoon tea and Gala Dinner on Saturday, accommodation on Saturday night, breakfast and coffee or tea on Sunday morning as well as all lectures and workshops held all day on Saturday and Sunday morning.
  Early Bird £ If booked after 31st March  2018   £
Single FIBIS member £180 £195 BOOK NOW
Single Non-member £200 £215 BOOK NOW
Double/Twin FIBIS member £140 £155 BOOK NOW
Double/Twin Non-member £160 £175 BOOK NOW


Price per person includes morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea as well as all lectures and workshops on the day.



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.  WILL BE RELEASED AT LATER DATE.
Friday pm Sunday am
FIBIS member £25 £25
Non FIBIS member £30 £30

Early Bird Period:  Prices  listed as “ early bird” rates are discounted rates running until 31st March 2018. After 31st March 2018 residential delegate rates will rise by £15 per person per night.  


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.

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.

Geraldine Charles, FIBIS founder trustee, experienced researcher and speaker at family history events:  To mark 100 years since the end of WWI, Geraldine will report on her most recent project to identify Anglo-Indian and European soldiers recruited in India to fight in WWI.  Like her earlier work locating the descendants of medal recipients, it honours the contribution of Indians, Anglo-Indians and Europeans based in India at that time.

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:

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.

Gill Blanchard, member of AGRA, is an 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.

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.

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.

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.

Saturday ‘s after-dinner speaker will be announced at a later date.




Trustee, website editor and social media manager for the Families in British India Society.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Good evening Valmay
    Thank you for the circular concerning the 20th Anniversary FIBIS conference in Oxford. Sadly, that is a bit too far to go for us, but I am sure that it will be well attended.
    I noticed that Geraldine Charles will be a speaker. Although I don’t know Geraldine personally, I had spoken to her on the ‘phone, purely by accident, as she was staying at a house in Ullapool, Scotland that was owned by a retired tea planter, Peter Rex. Peter was not available then (quite a few years ago) so it was Geraldine who answered the ‘phone.
    I have communicated with Jenny Mallin sometime ago, and purchased a couple of copies of her book to on pass to my wife’s relations.
    I had not known about Jean Ellis, until you had mentioned her in your circular. I have ordered three copies of her book for my ‘in-laws’ as my wife’s family were all in Burma at the time of the Japanese invasion, and part of the family did do the ‘trek’ out of Burma via the hills to Manipur (Imphal). My wife, Jackie’s immediate family, did not do the ‘trek’ as her father was employed by the Burmah Oil Company who flew her mother and sisters to Chittagong.
    Kind regards

    1. Valmay

      Hi Alan,

      Geraldine ( @cha-0004 ) will hopefully be giving a talk at Suffolk Record Office later in the year. Our Chairman, Pat Scully ( @scu-2341 ), also had family in the trek out of Burma.

      Geraldine and Pat are two experts that I hope to have available for research advice via a live video link after my talk at SRO in April. That reminds me, I must post the details on the website!


  2. I have paid a £50 Deposit for the conference but there was no option to say that I wished to attend the full conference. Is this to follow please?

    1. Valmay

      Hi Douglas,

      You will be sent a £50 discount code to enter when you purchase any of the conference options at a later date. If you have any further questions please feel free to contact me at [email protected] or Penny at [email protected].

      Look forward to seeing you at the Conference.


  3. I’m seriously thinking about coming for the whole conference and staying on to visit some of my ancestor’s stomping grounds in Suffolk and visiting the BL. I need to keep costs down because I’m coming from Malaysia so I would be interested in sharing a twin room with another lady. Are there any other middle-aged (or young or old!) women who would like to share a twin room with me? contact me at [email protected]

    1. Valmay

      Hello Rosemary,

      I will pass this on to Penny Tipper, who is organising the conference, in case she gets similar requests.

      Whereabouts in Suffolk do you hope to visit after the conference? If you plan on going to Suffolk straight after the conference I can give you a lift as far as Bury St Edmunds.


      1. Thankyou Valmay, I’d like to go to the Records Office in Suffolk and I just want to visit some of my ancestor’s haunts – Bungay, Flixton, Homersfield…just to walk past down some old streets etc. I haven’t thought about my itinerary in too much depth as yet. I also want to visit the British Library but don’t actually know what I might be able to find there….I’m not sure in what order I should do things but I know that the conference will be first.

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