History of the Society
In July 1978 the Federation of Family History Societies co-ordinated
the foundation of three family history societies to cover the City of London and the
former county of Middlesex. From west to east, these were the West Middlesex Family
History Society, the Westminster and Central Middlesex Family History Society and the
London and North Middlesex Family History Society. This division continued until 2001
when the latter two societies combined forces to form what was renamed the London,
Westminster and Middlesex Family History Society.
West Middlesex Family History Society now covers a little over thirty of the ancient parishes
in the west and south-west of the ancient county of Middlesex. The parishes are listed on our
Area of Interest page, and can be seen in map form
on the Parish Map page. Given the
complexity of the metropolitan area we also provide a
Gazetteer for the Greater London area page
to help identify which family history society has records for any location in Greater London.
The inaugural meeting of West Middlesex Family History Society was held on 19th July 1978
at Hounslow Manor School, Hounslow. The late John Rayment addressed the gathering and the
first Executive Committee was elected, chaired by David Hawkings.
The structure and activities of the Society were soon established, with a regular programme
of invited speakers, a journal and the beginnings of important
transcription and indexing work. The latter included the foundation of the
West Middlesex Marriage Index under the management of
Vic Gale and an active programme to record monumental inscriptions from local churchyards. The
venue for meetings changed first to the Old Town Hall in Hounslow in 1980,
and then to Montague Hall, Hounslow in 1984, where they have remained ever since.
Through the 1980s the Society was busy with indexing work on the 1851 Census returns for the
registration districts within our area, the results of which were published on a series of
1851 Census microfiche. This project saw the first use of home
computers for indexing work in the Society and the transition away from the traditional use of paper
slips for sorting work.
The Society held its first one-day conference at Isleworth in
October 1984 on the theme From Ag. Lab. to London Commuter and joined in a conference with
the other Middlesex societies for the first time at the Bishopsgate Institute for a
London Miscellany in July 1986.
The first directory of members' interests was published as a booklet in 1985,
with further editions being produced at intervals of about three years. In 1993 the format was
changed to microfiche, and then in 2015 the directory went online from our
Surname Interests page.
The wider use of home computers in the early 1990s led to the Society's decision to
digitise the West Middlesex Marriage Index. Further expansion of this index continued as project
work into the 2000s. In 2001 the Society purchased its first personal computer, and the Marriage
Index was copied there so it could be used at family history fairs. The index was subsequently
made available via FamilyHistoryOnline (now ceased) in 2004, and is now accessible to
members from the Members Data Searches section of this website,
and to subscribed members of
Find My Past or of
Genes Reuited using their respective search facilities.
During the 1990s society members were also very busy with work on the 1881 Census project,
co-ordinated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the first of the national
census indexes to become available. The 1990s also saw the publication of a book on the village of
Harmondsworth and some of the earlier memorial inscription work. In 2002 further project work
led to the publication of a CD of
war memorial inscriptions and the first two volumes in a series of
local parish histories. Since 2016 the content of the War Memorials CD has been made available
to members along with the rest of our digitised records accessible from the
Members Data Searches page.
Over the years the Society has been impacted by the increasing age of its members, and in
2015 it reached a crisis in that it ran for most of that year without either Chairman or
Secretary, leading to an Extraordinary General Meeting held on 17th September 2015 requiring
members to vote on a proposal to wind up the Society. Thankfully at this meeting the
guest speaker was Kirsty Gray, Managing Director of Family Wise Ltd., and Kirsty volunteered
to take on the Chairman's role, Brian Page volunteered to be vice-chairman, Roland Bostock
volunteered to be Secretary, and a further five individuals volunteered to bring the committee
up to full strength with 12 members. From then the Society has been going from strength to