Us P-Ls are fortunate. Our forbears had the luck to be born into property -
so they learnt to read and write, some advanced themselves, they mostly stayed
in the one place and, by far the greatest fortune, they allowed a few records
to be kept.
So we can find family records going back to Plantagenet times - and artefacts, even, back to Marian times. There is a family calendar of old charters, albeit a very modest one, in the Oxford Record Office.
Further our forebears had the grace to marry a few people like themselves, with records and artefacts, and extending our knowledge of many more ancestors.
Finally we have had our genealogical hobbyists over the years. Bransby Powys in the nineteenth century, my grandfather at the beginning of the twentieth century, and in the same century my sister Olivia who first found the house and evidence of the Ludlow Powyses and led to my brother Martin's serious magnum opus. Martin decided it was time the fables and traditions got a thorough underpinning and spent over 20 years in Record Offices and the like around the country, finding firm evidence of what our forebears had been up to; the more I have been looking at the work of others the more professional I have realised Martin's work to be.
In 1996 my father decided to break the habit of a lifetime and indulge in an extravagance, that of getting the College of Arms to document the genealogy they had. It is this genealogy that accounts for the magnificent painting they made for my grandfather of a full coat of arms with 64 quarterings. Anyhow I was given a copy of this genealogy and at first thought it a load of old rubbish, too remote to be credible. But I then found a computer program or two to store all this stuff in. And so I did. And tried to check it out to see if it was fact or fantasy. And it was mostly fact. Then I was passed on my grandfather's notes and found a whole new ball park of apparent fantasy; more to check and to enter into the computer program. And so it goes on.
In all this I have not had to do much hard research. I have mostly put together what others had worked long and hard over for their families and then made public to us all. I got unfailing help from the internet on the soc.genealogical.medieval discussion group where Leo Van Der Pas and Ed Mann particularly were founts of help, knowledge and encouragement. The former led me to particularly remarkable assemblies by Ruvigny in his Plantagenet Roll. I found some distant cousins who had done their own lines: Alex Greenwood was the first, and there were also Bill Meux who had singlehandedly done the Meux family, Ronny Bodine who handles the sales of the reprint of Maclean's memoirs of the Poyntz family, not to mention producing an excellently researched genealogy of thirteen generations of forbears to Dorothea Poyntz who died in 1705, and finally Ian Blagrove for the Blagraves and Blagroves. Thanks to them all.
More recently I have acquired some older volumes, Johnson Atkinson Busfeild, my great-great grandfather on the Busfeilds and Ferrands, John Ramskill Twisden on the Twysdens and Twisdens and Henry J Swallow on the House of Nevill.
A striking feature of this has been how the Americans ("USA people" to my Mexican in-laws) have risked much in reprinting valuable old volumes, gaining larger circulations than on the first time round; noone in England seems to do this. In some ways my favourite, though, is the scholarly work of 1939 by John Ramsden Twisden, the last of the Twisdens; apart from the genealogy the greatest pleasure is in the scandals of the various Twysdens! Find the Bishop of Raphoe and his offspring...