Welcome to the GSV



Moonrakers and Bristolians, SWERD is expanding.

Bill Barlow
2 February 2021
GSV News


Breaking news!

The very popular GSV Discussion Circle - SWERD (South West England Research) - is expanding its area of interest to include Bristol and the landlocked county of Wiltshire. Bristol is a populous city and ceremonial county. 


'The local nickname for Wiltshire natives is apparently Moonrakers. This originated from a story of smugglers who managed to foil the local Excise men by hiding their alcohol, possibly French brandy in barrels or kegs, in a village pond. When confronted by the excise men they raked the surface to conceal the submerged contraband with ripples, and claimed that they were trying to rake in a large round cheese visible in the pond, really a reflection of the full moon. The officials took them for simple yokels or mad and left them alone, allowing them to continue with their illegal activities.' (source: Wikipedia)

So anyone with links to Bristolians and Moonrakers will find this Discussion Group, which meets next on Feb 12 very welcoming.



Ref. Wikipedia contributors. "Wiltshire." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 11 Jan. 2021. Web. 2 Feb. 2021.)

Image: Cherhill White Horse, Cherhill, Wiltshire, England (Sw8 at the English language Wikipedia, C-C-A - SA 3.0 licence)


Back to school - for grandparents too!

Bill Barlow
2 February 2021
GSV News


GSV Events in February 2021

Now that the kids are back in school - actually in school this year - we grandparents (and others) are free to catch up with our events.


You will have recently read that the Society is moving its Centre during February. During this period our events will continue via Zoom. We have a packed and varied program of events, which are open to all GSV Members.

All are listed on our website.


Writing Course 

As previously advised Margaret Vines is conducting her very popular writing course in 1.5 hours sessions over three days – 1, 8 and 15 February. Bookings are limited so investigate the event page and book before it is too late. If you miss out this time, join the Writers Group for encouragement and assistance.



The classes conducted by our librarians Linley Hooper and Meg Bate cover digital topics of interest to family historian. Assistance with your Scottish research is also available.


The various Discussion Circles such as the Writers, DNA Study Group, Counties of Northern England, South West England Research, London Research, British India and the Victoria/Tasmania Circles will all be conducted during the month. These events are open to all Members.

SWERD meet on Feb 12 and have now enlarged this group to include Bristol and Wiltshire.


The Good Oil 

The next session will be held on 19 February. Come along with an item of family ephemera and share the story behind the item. This is an open group where we share our experiences and seek assistance to further our family history research. Everyone is welcome.

Special Interest Groups:

The Irish Ancestry Group will meet on 13 February. This group is open to all members and especially those with an interest in Irish family history research.

The International Settlers Group for those researching non-British ancestors will be held on 20 February. Four of the members of this group will talk about their ‘Most Interesting Ancestor’.


Introducing our GSV Member Societies

This is a new series of monthly events where our Member Societies across Victoria are provided with an opportunity to talk about their resources and expertise. On the 25thof this month The Lilydale and District Historical Society will introduce themselves and outline their resources many of which are not available elsewhere.


Talks – We have a program of five talks this month:

· 4 February – Carl Villis from the National Gallery of Victoria will talk about journey of discovery that led to the reattribution of the NGV’s 16thcentury portrait of Lucrezia Borgia.

· 9 February – Alan Rhodes will talk about DNA Auto Clusters – learn how to group your matches into clusters likely to share common ancestors.

· 11 February – Louise Wilson will discuss researching people would arrived in NSW well before 1850 and how to find the resources to support that research.

· 18 February – Steven Haby of the Prahran Mechanics Institute will explore the development and impact of the railways in Melbourne and Victoria across the 19thand 20thcenturies.

· 23 February – Alan Rhodes with introduce the website Gedmatch. 


All events may be booked through the GSV Members section of our website. Upon registration you will receive and email containing the zoom meeting details.


Join in, enjoy and discover something new.

New group for Victorian and Tasmanian family history and old maps of South West England

Bill Barlow
15 June 2019
GSV News
Treasure Chest



The eight discussion circles convened by the GSV include one on South West England (SWERD) and a new one for Victoria and Tasmania. These Discussion Circles are a great way to share your queries and pool your discoveries.


The Victoria and Tasmania Discussion Circle has just been started. It meets monthly on the 4th Friday of the month at 10.30 am to 11.30 am and is convened by Ruthie Wirtz. Their next meetings are on Fri 28 June and then Fri 26 July. All GSV Members can take part at no cost - it is part of your membership benefits. Ruthie can be contacted at ruthie.wirtz@gmail.com.



[ Courtesy of Libraries Tasmania Online Collection Item no. PH30/1/2067 ].


At the May meeting of the South West England Research and Discussion Circle (SWERD) they explored the maps of that region. Stephen Hawke, SWERD convenor, reminds us that:


'Maps are a vital (but sometimes under-used) resource for our family history research. Accessing a series of maps produced over decades or centuries is an important part of understanding your ancestors' 'places'. They can reveal changes over time that would have impacted on your ancestors' lives.  For example, in Somerset, a mere forty year span between two maps (1782 and 1822) held at GSV gives evidence of the draining of the Levels, the rapid development of coal mines and the growth of towns. Other features of maps such as new roads, turnpikes, canals, railroads etc. provide clues as to how your ancestors moved around the county or further afield. Estate and tithe maps may help pinpoint your ancestors' homes and the land they worked. 


Where were the markets, the pubs, and the schools, the cemetery used by your ancestors?  Where were the mills, mines, ports and factories that provided work for your ancestors?  A little delving and study of old maps can answer many questions and open up new ideas for researching your ancestors' lives.' 


In other recent meetings they have discussed the Widows of Cornwall, Devon & Exeter Industrial & Reform Schools, Dorset Machine Breakers, local history resources and the Bristol Hearth Tax.

SWERD next meets on 12 July.

Discover the '1696 Association Oath Rolls for Cornwall' at GSV

Bill Barlow
8 October 2018

GSV has purchased a wonderful new publication to help our Cornwall researchers.  The 1696 Association Oath Rolls for Cornwall lists around 11,500 Cornish men who took an oath in defence of the realm following a failed assassination plot on the life of King William III.  The rolls list the men by parish/town as well as two extensive lists of tinners.  Some effort was made to group men by family, which may provide new insights for your research.  The publication includes a comprehensive introduction to the events of 1696 and the analysis of the rolls by the editors.

The SWERD meeting on Friday 12 October (12:30 at GSV) will discuss the background to the Oath Rolls and how this new resource can be used in your research.

We will also be discussing resources to help you research ‘the times’ of your ancestors in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset.  How can you find out about local events that directly impacted their lives?  What are the best and/or your favourite books and other records covering the histories and events in the four south-west counties?  We'll prepare a list of the resources discussed at the meeting for future reference in your research.


SWERD is a group for GSV Members. Find out more on our website and it's not too late to join GSV and SWERD before this interesting session on Friday.

Rebellion in south-west England

Bill Barlow
8 June 2018


All that British history you dimly recall from school days can be brought alive as you dig deeper in your family roots. Were your ancestors rebels in the Glorious Revolution? Today Stephen Hawke from GSV's SouthWest England Research and Discussion Circle (SWERD) gives us a quick refresher before that group's coming meeting.


The Glorious Revolution of 1688 was a pivotal event in English history, bringing to an end the reign of the Stuart Kings and their moves to absolute monarchy.  Although the Glorious Revolution was a near bloodless affair (unlike most revolutions), the major precursor to the events of 1688, the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685, was blood-soaked.  The Duke of Monmouth was defeated at the Battle of Sedgemoor in Somerset, his fleeing troops were slaughtered and the aftermath was the Bloody Assizes of 1685 - all these brought a huge death toll to the south-west counties.  The Bloody Assizes ended with mass executions and transportion to virtual slavery in the Caribbean of men from many towns and villages across the counties of Devon, Dorset and Somerset.  There were national scandals over the retribution meted out to women who had peripheral connections to the rebellion, including England's last beheading and burning of women for political crimes.  The poor schoolgirls who came to be known as the Maids of Taunton were brutalised, but at least most of them survived to eventually see their tormentor, James II, leave the country in disgrace.

Portrait of Judge George Jeffreys 1645-1689 - the 'hanging judge' of the Bloody Assizes, by Johann Closterman.


The rebellion and Bloody Assizes left scars on the psyche of the people of the south-west that endured for generations. Records have survived which detail the names, home-villages and outcomes for thousands of people from Devon, Dorset and Somerset who were swept up in the turmoil of the Monmouth Rebellion. 

The SWERD meeting at GSV on Wednesday 13 June at 12:30pm (GSV members only) will discuss the rebellion, how you can ascertain whether your ancestors were rebels and the impact it had on their lives. 

Stephen Hawke