01935 429609
Somerset & Dorset
Family History Society

Blackmore Vale

The Blackmore Vale Group is re-commencing meetings at The Exchange, Old Market Hill, Sturminster Newton, DT10 1FH on the third Wednesday evening of every month. The extended break has led many people to start researching their family tree and group members are happy to offer advice and share experiences.

There is, also, a fantastic line-up of interesting speakers presenting on a variety of topics. 

The group meets on the 3rd Wednesday of the month in The Bow Room of The Exchange, Sturminster Newton. The presentations start at 7.30pm.

All are welcome at the meetings. To help defray costs we ask £3 per meeting for members of the S&DFHS and £4 for non-members.


Dissecting the Documents: UK Censuses from 1801 to the Present

Date: 19th October 2022
Time: 19:00
Location: The Bow Room of The Exchange, Sturminster Newton
Blackmore Vale Group

* Please note 7pm start!*

Speaker: Dr Penny Walters

This session will look at the development of the United Kingdom decennial censuses from 1801 headcounts through the decades to last year’s 2021 census. A 100-year closure rule was established after the 1911 Census, so it has been very exciting to have the 1921 census revealed in January 2022. This was the first census after the First World War and Spanish Flu pandemic. The 1939 Register, originally designed for the issuing of ID cards, which can now be seen as a census substitute, will be examined.

The amazing story of Dr James Barry

Date: 16th November 2022
Time: 19:30
Location: The Bow Room of The Exchange, Sturminster Newton
Blackmore Vale Group

Speaker: Felicity Herring

Dr James Barry was first female doctor in Britain! Born in Cork in 1789 she was the niece of the artist James Barry RA. In 1809 she disguised herself as a man and went to Edinburgh University to train to be a doctor. Following her graduation in 1812 she joined the army and was posted to South Africa where she maintained her male persona throughout, even fighting a duel. In Cape Town she performed the first successful caesarean section in which both mother and baby survived. Further postings followed to Mauritius, Jamaica, Antigua, Trinidad, Malta, Corfu and Canada. It was not until her body was being bathed for her funeral that her female identity was discovered. How could this happen??


Use the form to send a message, or telephone Felicity Harrison at 01258 472942. Please use the form for any queries or comments about the programme.

While Group members have a good deal of local knowledge, they are not usually in a position to carry out documentary research. If you need research done, please see “How We Can Help.”

    JanuaryNo Meeting
    12 February (2)Mixing DNA results with a paper trail—Penny Walters
    11 March (1) Posted in the Past—Helen Baggott
    8 April (2) A day in a Georgian house or ‘Nothing like home for real comfort’ – Gordon Le Pard
    13 May (1) From blacksmith to online retailer – 100 years in the life of a Sturminster family business— Graham Hart and Jon Dart from Harts of Stur.
    10 June (2) Family history on tablets of stone—John Damon
    8 July (1) A message to the children—Jim Williams
    AugustOuting—more details later
    9 September (2) Mad Earl Henry and other despicable relations  – Sue Burne
    14 October (1) The second oldest business in Sturminster—Rob Cowley
    11 November (2) Where’s that to, then?  – Adrian Bailey
    9 December (1) My life as an African-American GI’s son—John Stockley