Thursday, July 20, 2017

Parish Churches

English parish churches were the center of community life for many of our ancestors. Reaching back in time, understanding the story which surrounded each, will often expand our appreciation of this aspect of our families' history.  The book edited by John Betjeman will provide the American genealogist with such a reference.

Of course it is titled "An American,s Guide To English Parish Churches".  Over 4,000 churches organized by the counties of England and the Isle of Man.  It was published 1958, and printed in Great Britain by Collins Clear-Type Press : London and Glasgow.  There are 66 selected photographs, along with a brief description of the name, which Saint it is dedicated, and recognized structural significance.  How neat is this!  The ancient parish registers listed in the book by Arthur Meredyth Burke [a previous post] can take on a new life when combined with this text. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Halls of Existence

Our ancestors operated within a context of existence.  For that matter, we all do.  As genealogist interested in documenting this experience for our ancestors, we often need to understand the moral principles that helped them organize, interpret, and explain their daily lives.  The Judao-Christian ethos is one major factor that played such an important role for those of Welsh descent.  From the earliest days of Celtic Christianity [ca. 597 AD led by Augustine of Canterbury] to the monasteries founded by various religious groups among the isolated mountains and valleys of Wales [mostly Cistercians], this belief system operated in the hearts and minds of this existence.  The following book by Colin Platt, provides a view of the results of this belief system.

First published in 1984, it was reprinted by Barnes & Noble, Inc. in 1996.  Illustrations abound [love pictures], and a broad view of the many Abbeys and Priories that were built as a result of this belief system are presented.  A helpful reference to all genealogist who seek their ancestors among these halls of existence.

Saturday, May 27, 2017


In 1606, England's claim to the vast new territories just north of Spanish Florida rested upon the many voyages taken between 1497 and 1596 under the flag of St. George.   Trying to discover a way to Marco Polo's "Cathy", they headed northeast and northwest above the 35th parallel.  Trying to finally collect the financial and political will, a fellow named Richard Hakluyt in 1600 published his third volume of these explorations which laid the foundation for the Virginia Company.  The following reference contains a selection of the three volumes published between 1598 - 1600.

Selected and edited by Irwin R. Blacker, this reference was published 1965 by the Viking Press, Inc., NY.  A good reference for those who like to dig a little deeper into this history.  The selections  begins with "The Letters Patents" to John Cabot 1497 down to "A briefe and true report of the Honorable voyage unto Cadiz, 1596...". [ A total of 49 documents are given.] 

For those who like history the first edition cover of Hakluyt's volume is shown:

What a deal!  I love it. [Above taken from William and Mary Quarterly , 3rd series, Vol. 12, 1955, p.453.]

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Being First

To be first is the goal of many.  As to revolutions, we in America date our first back to July 4, 1776.  However, it is the thesis of the following book by Michael Barone, that in reality our first revolution was years before.

Now a revolution can be defined as the overthrow or renunciation of one government or ruler and the substitution of another by the governed.  This activity is designed to effect fundamental changes in the socioeconomic situation.  Hearts, minds, and in this case souls, were all involved.  In 1688-1689, the "Glorious Revolution" became its name.

My interest in this subject came to light during my family tree climbing experience.  As governor of Bahama Islands [1689-1692], my many generations back in time grandfather, was caught up in this revolution.  Trying to understand these events lead me to the book shown.  To the victor goes the spoils is the saying but, to the victor also goes the history books.  Coming down on the losing side is often left out of the pages of history.  Say family on the losing side!  Guess that is why we are on this side of the great pond now a days.  For insight into these events, the book by Michael Barone gives the context.

The story of Cadwallader Jones [ca.1650 - ca. 1703] can be found:

The book by Michael Barone was first published 2007 by Crown Publishers, NY.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Pendulum Swing

Changes in one's cultural archetypes often become historical writing of later days.  Many times it is one side against another in tortuous displays of disagreement.   Meeting in the middle [compromise]  is resisted at all cost.  Back and forth it goes until one side captures the flag...then swish...away into the night it is retaken.    The restoration of Charles II is such an example.  The book by Antonia Fraser is the text.

The Civil War in Britain (1642 - 1651) brought one side to victory.   The Commonwealth...Oliver Cromwell and the like...swung the pendulum to one side, the restoration of Charles II swung the pendulum back.  [References to this period have been given in previous posts.]  For my ancestors, this swing in the pendulum brought them to Virginia.   Under British rule, Virginia experienced similar effects.  A major brick wall it was working through these events for my family tree.  The book by Fraser opened some of the windows.

First published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., NY, 1979, it was distributed by Random House.  Originally, it was published in Great Britain as King Charles II.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Great Escape

After the death of his father Charles I ; Charles, Prince of Wales, was crowned Charles II.  This occured at the traditional Scottish coronation place of Scone on January 1, 1651.  His attempt to regain his authority in England was ended at the battle of Worcester September 3rd 1651.  Here, he barely avoided capture and his escape to France is told in the following text by Richard Ollard.

This escape has been told using contemporary evidence, which involved the loyalty of his followers.  My personal interest in this escape came after wondering if some in my own family tree had a role in this adventure. [The surname Moseley in particular.]  At any rate, it was a fascinating account of  the followers involved and the network that existed to aid this escape.  Family tree climbing can take some interesting paths of history.

This account was first published by Richard Ollard, 1966.  The edition illustrated above was published by Dorset Press, Marboro Books Corporation, 1986.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Last Days

Death does have its way of ending things.  For the genealogist, the date of death, when discovered, is required for all those found among the family tree.  Having family members involved in the English Civil War, led me to study this period in history from both sides of the fence. [Roundheads vs Cavaliers]  The following book by Graham Edwards details the last several months before the beheading of Charles I on Tuesday 30 January 1649.

At the beginning of the search into my own JONES surname family tree, it was unclear which side of the fence we were identified.  The last several posts have given some of the readings and references  that helped open the window to this conflict.  At any rate, there were plenty of JONES to go around on both sides, [a John Jones signed the death warrant ], and it took a number of years to sort things out.

Those deeply involved in the events surround these last days of Charles I are recorded.  Perhaps this text might open some windows for others.

First published in 1999 by Sutton Publishing Limited, the paper back edition [cover shown above] was printed in 2001.