I first started researching my family history over forty years ago – I bought my first certificate in April 1973. I had sent most of my early life trying to explain why my surname was Madder-Smith and that was my first attempt to find out the truth.
I discovered a Madder family from Norfolk who moved to Essex (via Suffolk) and who called themselves Smith. William Madder, born 1815, AKA George Smith, Benjamin Madder etc., was the culprit, but I still haven’t found out why.
I traced my Madder and other families back through civil registration, travelling up to London to search the big index books, first at Somerset House and then St Catherine’s House. At that time it was difficult to get beyond 1837. There were no census indexes, or even censuses available. Parish registers were still in the churches and at the time I didn't drive.
I gave up, got married and had children.
I relapsed in 1996, when I was contacted by a cousin – there are not many Madder-Smiths about! I joined the Rugby Family History Group (my local group) and the Norfolk FHS. I went on trips to the Norfolk Record Office and, by coach, to St Catherine’s House. Then the Family Record Centre opened in Middleton Place – GRO indexes and Censuses all in one place. I went to Kew, to what was then called the PRO.
I started using computers and put my information into a family history program. CDs started to appear with census indexes and then – information online!
Meanwhile, being a helpful person, I started helping to transcribe local parish registers for RFHG and wanting to keep up with technology, I helped to set up the RFHG website. Before I knew it, I was on the committee and Webmaster, then project co-ordinator.
Because most of my research interests are not where I live, I got interested in the local history of Rugby and about ten years ago joined the Rugby Local History Research Group. It is a small group and when the leader had to retire, I took over.
While this was happening, I continued with my own family history research, concentrating on the Madder family. In 2009 I joined the Guild of One-Name Studies and registered the official Madder one-name study.
This website has been running for some time, in various incarnations.
At the start of 2012 I started a Blog, where I write about what I am doing – mostly family history.
I am on Facebook and run a private Madder one-name study group there.
I am also on Twitter and of course you can contact me via this website.