“Where there is a Will there is a Way”


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Margaret McGregor
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Wills: Valuable Resources

Margaret McGregor
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Margaret read history at the University of York, graduating with an upper second-class honours degree and went on to obtain a post-graduate diploma in Archive Administration from University College, London in 1969. She is a Registered Member of the Society of Archivists. After a few weeks of temporary archive work at the Public Record Office (then at Chancery Lane) she began her first permanent post at Bedfordshire Record Office where she remained for over 5 years. Her favourite task during this period was being given to catalogue a box of mediaeval deeds relating to the Conquest family of Houghton Conquest.

A brief career-break followed in 1975 when her first child was born. During this period she began working on her first volume "Some Bedfordshire Wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury 1383-1548" at Bedfordshire Historical Record Society. The family subsequently moved to the Bristol area, which was where she had been brought up, and she started working part-time as an archivist at Bristol Record Office in 1977. For some years she was the longest-serving member of staff at the office Bristol Record Office, from which she retired in 2010.

For 16 years she operated the office's professional research service so she has considerable experience of genealogical research in the Bristol area as well as general local history searches. She has regularly run classes in "How to Read Old Documents/Palaeography", initially under the auspices of the WEA, then of the University of Bristol Extra-Mural Department and more recently at Bristol Record Office as part of the Archives Awareness Campaign. The transcription of wills and probate documents remains her particular area of expertise together with the city's apprenticeship and burgess registers. In 2007 she was accepted as a member of the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA) . She is passionate about sharing with others her enthusiasm for studying the documents which reveal so much about our ancestors and our locality.

During her time in Bedfordshire she developed an interest in the local cottage-industry of bobbin-lace making which was at that time enjoying a revival as a leisure craft. Details of the craft of lace can be found here on the Lace Guild website. Bobbin-lace has remained a leisure-time pursuit of hers over the years and she is currently researching the history of lace-making in the Bristol area.

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