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October and November '00: CP dropped through the letter box, wow! CP is "Complete Peerage" originally by G E CocKayne between 1884 and 1898 and then a second edition started around 1910 and concluding with Volume XIV of Addenda and Corrigenda in 1996. It is one of the few genealogical documents that is based almost entirely on contemporary or near-contemporary documents of the people concerned. And the long gestation period has meant that almost everyone who has found anything in any document has been able to pass this on to the editing office or storage chest for the times when there was no editor.

For the moment I am treating it as gospel. Where CP pronounces, I accept those statements. Until I have strong evidence to the contrary of course.

As such, it is a superb corrective to the duff gen and various unknowns that I had for my medieval genealogy. I immediately resolved a load of issues and then wondered what I had bought it for. The solution was to mark up all those on my files whose suffix title began with 'Lord' and then go through each and compare the details against CP. This task is exponentially multiplying. One reference in CP usually leads to a host of ancestors plus many other families linked by marriage. So a correction of one entry in my files can lead to as many as 20 other entries. After a month I have got no more than a quarter of the way through the lords and not started on the earls. It sounds like six months to complete this sub-project, particularly as there are some other activities that must take priority over the next few weeks.

A nice feature of CP is that for the early peerages it includes the ancestors, sometimes for many generations. Adding yet more people to our ancestry.

The problems of course are the people it leaves out. Brother and sister of peers or heirs to peers do not get a mention. Nor do the gentry, unless they married a peer.

Anyhow, no real complaints. It is a pleasure to have it on the shelves.

The other voyage of discovery has been the Hallifaxes, my maternal grandmother's family. She had left behind her a Hallifax Pedigree on a large sheet of cartridge paper and which I was presented with a year or two back. We were astonished to see on it a bishop, Samuel, of Gloucester, none of my siblings or cousins were aware of this. But she was notoriously scatter-brained and so, while I copied the information into my files, I included several government health warnings. I did verify the bishop and my cousin Christopher Briscoe found him in the Dictionary of National Biography, a collection I had not hitherto paid any attention to - but have subsequently.

Anyhow Desmond Needham approached me and supplied me with some family trees of Hallifaxes and Halifaxes. He has been researching the family for years and seems to have done a full one-name study of all Hallifaxes for all times. He told me of the Hallifax Lord Mayor of London, coeval with the bishop in the late eighteenth century; never heard of a Lord Mayor before. He produced various old documents, particularly the Worthies of Barnsley which included a biography of the Lord Mayor. And while these various documents supported my grandmother's assertion that the Hallifaxes were originally Waterhouses of Halifax, Yorks, he has some other documents that, he says, refute this.

But the most rewarding part of this was my consequent decision to peruse my CDROM of Burke's Commoners and a few other such books. The Hallifaxes were important people about town and might just have an entry in one of the books on this CDROM. The most interesting find here was that we are descended from a family of Ricketts who arrived in Jamaica in the 17th century and seem to have made a fortune there before returning to this country at the end of the 18th century. The entry in Burke's Commoners then went on to assert that a very early William Ricketts had married one Mary Goodwin, grand-daughter of Elizabeth Grey, the heiress of the Greys of Ruthin and daughter of the 14th baron. The only trouble about this is that so far I have found no evidence of Mary Goodwin this side of the Atlantic. One person, thanks Adrian, has produced a Memorial Inscription in Jamaica that is clearly hers, for she lived to the incredible age of 96, dying in 1750 (or in 1758, depending on how clearly the last engraved digit has survived). Another has claimed that her father, Robert Goodwin, has a memorial elsewhere in Jamaica. But Robert's supposed father, Francis Goodwin, wrote in his will of his son Arthur "my dear and only sonne...". Francis Goodwin lived at Winchendon, Bucks so we may be able to find some parish records; this is the next on the agenda.

The Ricketts tree also pulled in our first direct ancestor who signed the death warrant for Charles I, Thomas Waite. Hitherto we only had a few cousins of ancestors who signed this warrant. The gory total in my file is now eight of the fifty or so who were involved.

A future line of enquiry for the Hallifax name change is that there is some 18th century entry in the College of Arms for the Hallifaxes of Mansfield, Oswaldsthorpe and Suffolk, at least according to the Harleian Society's books of grants of arms. To be followed up.

A final pleasing discovery was through the purchase of the LDS Vital Records CDROMs. Therein I found some entries of my paternal grandmother's ancestors, the Gilletts of Chatham and Gillingham, Kent of the 18th century. At least I now know where to look up some parish records. And further these entries precisely confirm what my grandfather had scribbled down on some notepaper and fortunately left behind him.

I've added two extra pieces to the genealogy section. First an account of the dodgy bits and second a list of all the sources I have used for the genealogy.

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