Paul BlakePAUL BLAKE is a full-time researcher, lecturer and writer and holds the Diploma in Genealogy from the Institute of Heraldic & Genealogical Studies.

Paul was born in Wimbledon where he has lived all his life, so far, and has two daughters. Until 1996 he followed a career as an interior and graphic designer.

Paul has extensive lecturing and teaching experience, at all levels, throughout the U.K. and overseas over 20 years: at major conferences (recently: 2006 FGS Conference in Boston; 2011 LDS Library Salt Lake City and Arizona GS; 2011 GS Conference and New York Genealogical & Biographical Society); regularly for the Society of Genealogists and at many family and local history society meetings; guest lecturer on cruise ships; and appearances on radio and television.

He is a regular writer for Your Family Tree and Who Do You Think You Are? magazines and other periodicals and for many years compiled themonthly Q&As section for Family History Monthly. Paul contributed to the highly successful Readers’ Digest book, Explore Your Family’s Past, and has undertaken research for the television series The People Detective and Revealing Secrets, and has appeared as an expert on Who Do You Think You Are? and Heir Hunters. He has worked as an advisor to the History Channel and the BBC and undertaken research into the family histories of several ‘celebrities’ for the Sunday Magazine. He is joint author of the books, The complete guide to creating your own family tree and Discover your roots.

Paul has served on many committees. He is a past chairman, of the Society of Genealogists Executive Committee and of its Lectures Committee. He was vice-chairman of the Executive Committee of the Federation of Family History Societies, and its Director of Publicity. He has organized several national family history conferences. Paul is President of the East Surrey FHS and a Fellow of the Society of Genealogists.

In his spare time Paul continues with his life-long interest in photography, researching his own family history and considering going swimming more often.

Presentation 1

Crime, Criminals and Transportation to America and the West Indies, 1615-1776

From the early seventeenth century until the American Revolutionary War, the British colonies in North America received transported British criminals. The first Transportation Act in 1718 allowed courts to sentence convicts to seven years’ transportation to America. The exact number of convicts transported to North America is not known for certain although it has been estimated to be in excess of 50,000.

There was no central listing of transportations or even criminal trials at this time. The court system was not straightforward, and for most of the country there was a system of twice-yearly assizes, grouped into circuits, and the quarter sessions. In London and Middlesex, the system of courts was different to the rest of the country and was more complicated. The Quarter Sessions and Petty Sessions dealt with all manner of cases, from illegitimacy to robbery; and the Assizes with more serious cases from theft to rape and murder. Records of criminals can be found in all these as well as in the records of the Houses of Correction, the prisons and the hulks. And for those whose punishment was transportation to the ‘Colonies’ for 7 or 14 years there are yet more records

Presentation 2

American Loyalists, Land Grants and Claims

In early colonial America, the ownership of land was considered to be vested in the King through the right of discovery and settlement by his subjects. He, in turn, granted land to companies and to proprietors to organise settlements, and also to some individual subjects as a reward for service.

As a result the American Revolutionary War, the majority of those who remained loyal to the Crown had their land  and other property confiscated

Those American Loyalists who suffered hardship as a result of their loyalty to the Crown were entitled to claim compensation, resulting in several series of useful records. The British government went to considerable effort to compensate Loyalist for their losses. The Loyalists had to list their lost property to claim the compensation. The official files relating to the Loyalist claims are held in The National Archives, but there are many records relating to them both in the United States and Canada.