Bailiffgate Museum
14 Bailiffgate, Alnwick
NE66 1LX
Contact: Dudley George

Meetings on 1st Tuesday in the month. Zoom meetings open at 7.15pm with the talk starting at 7:30pm
(No meetings in January, February, August & December)

If you are anywhere in the UK, or the world and want to know more about ancestors from the Alnwick area, you are welcome to contact the Alnwick Branch of the NDFHS on the email address above to see if we can help. (You can also see much information, including on over 1,300 Alnwick area dead in WW1 created by the Branch on

Almost all our talks are via Zoom, so if you wish to join the NDFHS you are welcome to listen in. Just complete your application to the Society, and then email Alnwick Branch. You will be put on our circulation list for the Zoom links and news about the beautiful Bailiffgate Museum, Alnwick, where we are based.

2022 Schedule of Meetings

Unless otherwise stated, the meetings listed below will be via Zoom

DateSubject of TalkSpeaker
5th July 2022Victorian Women and their moneyDr Winifred Stokes
2nd August 2022No Meeting
6th September 2022The Robertson Family of Alnwick. The story behind Alnwick’s grandest pant.Alastair Robertson
4th October 2022A Posse of Percy’s – Part 2, An ever-popular local speaker resumes his excellent talk after a slight Covid delay.Andy Griffin
1st November 2022The Ridley Family. A local family who were high achievers on the national stage. Richard Tolson
6th December 2022No Meeting

Please get in touch with the Alnwick Branch via the above e-mail address for information about Branch Meetings.

Reports of meetings

June 2022

Linda Bankier of Berwick Archives described how childless widow Lady Waterford devoted the rest of her life to her Ford estate workers, and especially their children. She provided model housing instead of slums, a free health service about 70 years before the NHS and industry on the estate to ensure full employment. Her greatest legacy, however was the new school, now a museum. She was a great artist, recognised by John Ruskin, and her huge biblical murals there are on show still.

Following on from the talk, the Branch AGM was held. Dudley George still chair. Mary G Treasurer. Maureen Sayers Committee member.

April/May 2022

Joint in-person meeting with Bailiffgate Museum ( 32 total attended)

Kathryn Ferry highlighted the 350-year history of the British Seaside, and how many aspects of it are coming full circle. Eg The initial focus was on cold water bathing-hence Northern beaches esp. Scarborough; now the health benefits of this are receiving TV coverage. Initially only the rich could afford to use bathing machines, some of these were converted to the first beach huts, and now these sheds can achieve 5-figure prices. It is hoped the post-Covid focus on UK holidays will permanently rescue many once-thriving resorts. (Kathryn then signed copies of her latest book)

April 2022

15 members attended via Zoom

Anthony Atkinson, an ex-guide at Gibside, gave us the almost unbelievable “riches to rags” story of a close ancestor of our current queen.

Lady Mary Eleanor Bowes-Lyon was once probably the most eligible young lady in Europe, fabulously rich and well educated, if somewhat plain. Whilst her first marriage was no love match, her second was a descent into Hell. She had been tricked by the media into wedlock with a true psychopath who tortured her physically and mentally. This included burning her with a candle, stabbing her through the tongue and throwing a pan of boiling water over her. Her kidnap, subsequent escape, and eventual burial in Westminster Abbey holds one final secret, which still attracts criminal interest to this day.

March 2022

The Danny Dyer Fallacy and other genealogical gems, Speaker: Dudley George

Dudley George gave a talk on the future of Genealogy, noting how much DNA analysis poses both new challenges and opportunities. This is most especially true in the area of generating “true” family trees, as opposed to current ones, which are created from “official” BMD and census records. A researcher working in the interface between these and DNA -based relationships recently stated that they had never, ever come across a family tree that proved to be 100% accurate.

The issue is of course that in Victorian/ Edwardian days, many secrets were swept under the carpet, and outright lies told to the official recorders. Once one link in the chain is wrong, then of every entry down the chain from that falsehood is incorrect. As soon as a DNA test is taken then wholly unexpected results arise. The speaker had indeed had this happen to himself. As the FH providers -notably Ancestry- promote more and more DNA testing, and techniques for getting further back up the chain improve, then this will become a significant issue. One answer may even be to run in parallel the “official” family tree and the “true” one- the latter being of greater relevance as genetically-based medical diagnosis, and hence treatment, rises in importance.

February 2022

No meeting held in February

January 2022

No meeting held in January

December 2021

December 2021 Meeting attended by 22 people via Zoom.  

David Welsh gave a talk “Crossing the Border”, by way of introduction to the project he and another retired university lecturer are currently pursuing. Borders between countries nowadays are generally seen as permanent and well-guarded. The de facto border between Scotland and England has moved several times and has always been porous, often to the huge cost of those living either side. The project will use the data from successive census returns from the border areas, so will cover the period from 1851 onwards, although some issues raised are likely to have affected earlier periods. Talks on the findings will be offered once available.


Further information about future events can be found at the Bailiffgate Museum website.


Last updated: 12th June 2022