As White was my paternal grandmother’s maiden name, it was a family that I researched very early in my ‘addiction’. This was in the 1990s, so genealogy records were not online and research was usually done using printed records, maps, lists and books. My husband and I began by frequenting the State Library of Queensland (SLQ) and going through their holdings and taking advice from the librarians there.
One of the handy books at SLQ was the Genealogical Research Directory (GRD) containing lists of those who were researching surnames and the mailing addresses, so I wrote letters to many overseas researchers in this period. The GRD was published yearly from 1981 – 2007 and covered world-wide family researchers of the time. I see that the years 1994-2007 are available even today in CD format, and in our GSQ Library we have printed yearly editions from 1981 – 2007 call numbers WW/315/001.year. This is much like we do today via email, but at that time for overseas enquiries, I usually used aerograms initially as they were more economical to send, these have been phased out in the last few years in Australia.
With my husband also keenly researching his family, we had joined GSQ (Genealogical Society of Q’ld) in 1997, not long after we began researching. We scoured their huge library holdings above the old Post Office building at Woolloongabba and attended a presentation explaining the process of researching your family. What a revelation that talk was! One of the gems we learnt about was the millions of records available for loan through Family Search Centres, so we began frequenting the centre then located at the back of the LDS church on River Terrace, Kangaroo Point.
The huge, printed lists called the International Genealogical Index (the IGI) by FamilySearch were a great guidance which listed baptisms and marriages from parishes throughout the world. From an entry you could order in a microfilm or microfische to go through a particular parish, birth index or census at your local Family Search Centre for a period of two months. These came from either Sydney or USA so patience was a virtue.
I gradually built my line back from the days of my grandmother born in Sydney to Mongarlowe through the gold diggings to the place of her father’s birth at Nerrigundah in New South Wales and finally back to my White family of Bletchingley and Godstone in Surrey, England. Unfortunately, being a keen novice at family history, source citations were not a huge ‘thing’ that I covered, or indeed even knew about, although thankfully I had noted the film number and parish name and date I had viewed the entry.
Fast forward to today and many of those films are available online, including most of the parish registers of both these Surrey villages. I do find that the search results in one of the genealogy sites are rather random and at times contain errors in the transcription, so often rely on going through several different methods. I search widely on the other sites including FamilySearch and thankfully the majority of the locked films are available at GSQ, but being mostly home based these days, sometimes I try to widen my research field in other ways. Note that there are a large percentage of these films scanned, but not indexed, online. These you access through the Search/Catalogue/name of parish.
During this process, my last resort on the main genealogy site for Surrey is to find the parish film, usually under the London Metropolitan Archives collection, narrow down to the parish, then the period, then to ‘browse’ through the registers page by page. It is amazing what you can find this way. This is the process similar to how we did things in the 1990s and early 2000s with scrolling through the films on the microfilm readers. When doing that my habit has always been to notate all entries of my surname of interest in that parish. It allows me to group the various families of a period together before going back another generation and often years down the track, I refer to my index and find another family member.
Our oldest generation of this family is Peter White and Mary Harber, with Mary’s surname being spelt in a variety of ways. Their banns were called in July and August 1757 with them taking their marriage vows on 11 September 1757 at Bletchingley Parish church. Calling of the Banns would have been necessary in the two parishes as Peter was ‘of Nutfield’ the next village one mile to the west on the road to Redhill.
During one of our trips to the Surrey History Centre, while waiting for my hubby to finish off, I was going through their catalogue and found a reference which, when delivered to the search room, was a little leather bound book. The book contained descriptions of the local farmers occupying and leasing land plus a detailed map of the village of Godstone as well as the village of Bletchingley. The map page confirmed just where my White family were residing in the centre of Bletchingley village when the Claytons Estate commissioned the survey taken in 1781 as well as where my Jennings family were living in Godstone. This was much earlier than any census so a real bonus.
The couple appear to have had only one child, John White who was baptised the following year on 12 August 1758 at Bletchingley. I felt this was unlikely, so I searched through the whole register for that period and didn’t find additional children. Peter’s wife Mary passed away when her son was twenty and was buried on 20 March 1777 at Bletchingley. Peter continued residing in Bletchingley passing away on 15 May 1797 and buried at his birth parish of Nutfield in Surrey.
In the year following his mother’s death, John White married Elizabeth Jennings of Godstone. Elizabeth, the daughter of William and Elizabeth Jennings, was a Godstone girl, this is the next village to Bletchingley and just 2.5 klms (1.6 miles) away. Their marriage ceremony was held on 6 September 1778 at Godstone Parish Church, with John also described as ‘Of this parish’ meaning he must have been living and working there.
The couple had seven children, all at Godstone. They were Sarah (b1781), Elizabeth (b1784), Elizabeth (b1788), William Jennings (b1790), Hester / Esther (b1792), Mary (b1795) and Ann (b1799). There may have been an additional son John born about 1786 who lived in Bletchingley at the same period as William Jennings White and he and his wife, Elizabeth Burgess had seven children baptised there. The parents, John & Elizabeth White remained in Godstone for the rest of their lives with John passing away on 7 April 1821 and Elizabeth on 12 Feb 1836.
In closing I would like to thank Seeking Surrey Ancestors! (exploringsurreyspast.org.uk) for their assistance in my request to publish images taking during my research time at their centre.
 Surrey History Centre. Bletchingley Parish microfische number 1/12 containing Marriages & Banns from Apr 1754-Nov 1771. Viewed by author June 2008
 Bletchingley – Godstone Claytons Estate SURVEY and MAPS of 1781. Surrey History Centre Catalogue Ref 8948-2 https://www.exploringsurreyspast.org.uk/collections/getrecord/SHCOL_8948_2
 Source: Surrey History Centre. Bletchingley Parish Register. Microfische Baptisms Ref 7/10 noted by Roberta Edes June 2008
 Source Information: Ancestry.com. Surrey, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013. Original data: Anglican Parish Registers. Woking, Surrey, England: Surrey History Centre
 Source: National Burial Index for England & Wales Life Events (BDMs). Parish Burials. Great Britain, England. FindMyPast.com.au Transcription by: West Surrey Family History Society Transcriptions © West Surrey Family History Society
 Source: Surrey History Centre. Godstone Parish Register. Microfische 1 Page 17 entry 65 noted by Roberta Edes June 2008