About Me

Studio portrait of Dr. Sophie Kay, seated and wearing a white jacket and trousers and a blue top.

Dr. Sophie Kay, D.Phil, is a professional genealogist and research scientist based at Khronicle, with over 18 years’ experience in family history research across the British Isles. In addition to her private client work, she brings family history to an international audience as the Ancestry and Genealogy Expert for popular archaeology & history show, Time Team. A keen speaker and educator, she is also the Specialist Tutor in DNA at the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies, and teaches research methodology and historical mapping techniques for family history at Pharos Tutors.

Sophie is an AGRA Member and is registered with the RQG. Her specialisms include the use of historical mapping techniques in genealogical research, genetic genealogy, death records and historical occupations, and she’s also the creator of the #OccupationOfTheDay hashtag on Twitter, which showcases a range of jobs from bygone times.

An experienced educator and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Sophie delivers a programme of speaker talks throughout the year to a range of conferences and family history societies around the world.

Highlights include:

  • Invited workshop speaker for a range of host organisations, including Family Tree Magazine, the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies and the Curious Descendants Club;
  • Keynote Speaker for THE Genealogy Show (2021) and the Families of British India (FiBiS) Conference (2024);
  • Invited speaker for the Association of Professional Genealogists, the Register of Qualified Genealogists, and the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives;
  • Speaker at RootsTech 2022, the biggest global conference for all things family history;
  • Exciting Keynote sessions and interactive talks to follow in 2024…stay tuned for details!

Sophie was also Director of the global award-winning Open Science Training Initiative from 2012 to 2019, established during her time as one of the inaugural Panton Fellows with the Open Knowledge Foundation.

Originally from a background in mathematics and interdisciplinary cancer research, Sophie holds a doctorate in Systems Biology from the University of Oxford, where she also taught mathematics, statistics and computational bioscience from 2008 to 2014.

Sophie champions progress in disability access within the genealogy and historical research communities and served on the panel for the User Advisory Group of The National Archives (Kew, U.K.) from 2018-2022.

She is also on the management team of Twitter’s #AncestryHour, the weekly space for family history conversations, which takes place at 7pm (UK time) every Tuesday, and co-runs the Pro-Am Genies, a professional development group for aspiring and professional genealogists.

You can follow Sophie on Twitter as @ScientistSoph.

A dictionary showing the definition of research

Need to get in touch?

Please direct email queries about The Parchment Rustler, including offers of review materials for publication titles and public exhibitions, to sophie[at]parchmentrustler.com

Professional queries, requests for research quotations and offers of work should be sent to sophie[at]khronicle.co.uk

All opinions and content presented on Sophie’s blog “The Parchment Rustler” are personal, and should not be assumed to represent these organisations in any way, unless otherwise stated.

7 thoughts on “About Me

    1. Hi Joe, great to hear from you. Happy to discuss reviewing one of your titles – Genealogical’s historic topographical dictionaries or genealogical gazetteers for England would be of particular interest. I’ll be in touch in the coming days!

  1. Your blog on maps was of great interest.
    I remember as a child sitting in the front passenger seat with a map telling my mother what turn, town, interesting site, etc., was coming up (pre-super highways of course). My local paper leaves maps out of articles when a map would explain what many words do not. Or they have a map with the subject located incorrectly. I received a 95 on map reading in the U.S. Army.
    In short, I love maps as you do. Your top tips will take me back into family history to look at where families were on the maps. I have a map on my wall showing where members of my family of interest live now. It is my generation that has moved across the United States in 90% of the families and even now the concentrations around Boston and New York is very large.

    1. Delighted to hear that my “Maps & Genealogy” piece struck a chord. For me, nothing can replace the wonder of physical maps: digital versions can be incredibly useful but the experience of identifying the physical features of the landscape on a hard-copy map and translating that into an ease of navgiation around a locale is really beautiful. Your wall map sounds like a great idea – thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Barbara and thanks for visiting. The blog is very much alive and I have a lot of new articles in the pipeline – the main challenge over the past year has been finding time for blogging during an exceptionally busy spell professionally! Expect some more content in the coming months on Negative Space, automation bias in family history research, and genetic genealogy too…

      All the best,


  2. Hello Dr. Kay,

    I noticed a comment you left on a post mentioning that you were doing research into a certain “Isherwood” family and that caught my attention. I’m an Isherwood (actually Ramsbottom-Isherwood) and am looking into my genealogy. I’m from New Zealand, but living in Tokyo. Henry Isherwood, mentioned in the post, is my ancestor. I am very much an amateur at this but would appreciate any insights you may have on Henry and his family. As far as I know, Ramsbottoms married into the Isherwood family around this time.
    I thoroughly understand if you’re too busy to reply to this. I realize this is your profession and I’m just a fisherman casting a line into the great expanse.

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