Experience and Recommendations

I have been conducting genealogical and family history research on my own family for 15 years, and research for others on contract for about 8 years.

South Derbyshire

Between 2000 and 2004 I created a web site devoted to Genealogical Resources of South Derbyshire, England, for which I transcribed records for several parishes from microfilm, including parish registers, census records, hearth tax records and trade directory listings. In the last 10 years I have built up a large database of South Derbyshire families, as well as an extensive collection of Derbyshire-related resources. I am also very familiar with the records of the adjacent counties of Staffordshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.

Voluntary Transcription Work

I have been a Derbyshire county coordinator and transcriber for the FreeCEN UK Census transcription project, and was a volunteer transcriber for the 1901 and 1911 Canadian Census on automatedgenealogy.com.

Military History

Between 2002 and 2005 I created a web site devoted to the history of the Canadian Machine Gun Corps during the Great War, started a blog Grandpa's War documenting my grandfather's Great War service in the CEF, and from 2004 to 2009 was an administrator of the CEF Study Group Forum. I have written several articles on the lives of military men, including one about General Sir James Fitzmayer (1813-1895) of the Royal Artillery for Photo-Sleuth.

Image © 2009 Brett Payne
Photohistorical Research

I started compiling a database of Victorian & Edwardian Photographers & Photographic Studios in Derbyshire, England in 2002, as an aid to dating old photographs for family historians, and this continues to grow. As well as a comprehensive index of those photographers who worked in Derbyshire, it contains biographical profiles and, in many cases, a portfolio of examples of their work. In October 2007 it was featured by Mary Harrell-Sesniak in her Rootsweb Review column The Digital Genealogist: Identifying Photographs and Photographers, and received a mention in the September 2009 issue of Practical Family History. From 2007 I have been writing articles of a more general nature about old photographs, photographers and their subjects, in the form of a blog Photo-Sleuth, which was nominated in the 2009/2010 Family Tree Magazine 40 Best Genealogy Blogs. I have also been an invited guest author on Shades of the Departed.


“Brett Payne has been a superb source of support in my photo-historical work. He brings to the field a unique combination of skills in family history, document search and analysis and photographic history. His fascinating ‘Photo-sleuth’ blog gives an idea of the range of his skills. Work he undertook for me on the history of a nineteenth century photograph began by using clues from a faintly visible signpost, from which he triangulated the exact location of the picture. He then traced the ownership of a public house in view, the names and histories of the licensees and the history of the surrounding area. He then found links between the location and the photographer believed to have taken the photograph.
I regard myself as a fairly skilled researcher in this field but Brett is invariably able to bring new insights and information to my work. I recommend him to other researchers without hesitation.” Dr John Bradley FRSA Photohistorian; former Hon Curator The Stereoscopic Society; Winner of the 2005 International Award of the National Stereoscopic Association for photo-historical research.

“I came to know Brett through our mutual interest in genealogy. I had a century-old album of unidentified photographs of family members and his help was invaluable in adding names, dates and places to faces. His knowledge of Victorian and Edwardian photographers and the tools of their trade is exceptional. The methods of identifying and dating old photographs are intriguing. The information presented on his web site and blog is always fascinating.” Alan Craxford

“Brett did a wonderful job locating my father's family in the 1920 and 1930 Jersey City, New Jersey, censuses. His knowledge and fast turn around helped me provide valuable information for my family. In addition Brett has helped me a great deal in my research into my great-uncle's First World War service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Brett's knowledge of the relevant documents, abbreviations etc. is second to none and has often cleared the way to new discoveries. He has always been willing to help and has always gone the extra mile. I would recommend him without hesitation.” Neil Burns

“I have hired Brett on several occassions to assist me in transcribing 15-17th century wills. He does a great job and because of his help I have been able to trace my family farther than expected. His knowledge of Derbyshire is great!” Jodie Williams

“Brett has carried out genealogical research on the European members of my family in India, for over two years. He accessed the LDS index and records, to provide me with information dating from 1803 until 1912, on several ancestral threads. He provided me with family information that recommended researchers in London failed to find. I found him very knowledgeable, willing and conscientious, and most importantly, not excessive in his fees. I would recommend him highly, and be quite confident of his efficiency.” Marjorie Gahan

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