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December 2001

What a busy month! First I went through Testamenta Vetusta from cover to cover, making notes on all those that were in, or are now in, my files. Then I went through the DNB again for every who died before 1600 and whose details I still did not have in my files. I had some fascinating information through from Adrian Channing on some Browne ancestors who were ironmasters in Kent and Surrey in the 17th century. Finally Simon Ricketts came through with a solution to some serious problems of credibility of some mutual ancestors in Jamaica.

I have done an abstract of the Testamenta Vetusta wills to list, for each person in my files making a will, the names of the relatives in that will. Sometimes this led me to adding one or two of those relatives to my files; more often not as they were people of whom I have no other or related information. Interestingly I found that Nicolas' notes, he wrote in 1825, on the testators cannot be relied on; this shows how much our knowledge of medieval people has increased in recent years. We owe many thanks to the ever more expert and precise researchers of recent years.

I was astonished at how many more people I could find in DNB: since June this year I have added 150 people, making the total some 850 in our files with an article in DNB.

The Brownes all started with a note from my grandfather's records that George Browne of Buckland had married the elder daughter and co-hr of Ambrose Browne of Beechworth. I rediscovered this note three of four weeks ago and decided to follow it up. Good old Burke's Commoners, which I have, indexed, on CDROM, soon produced some information, confused and contradictory, but it indicated a well documented ancestry on the side of George's wife. Coincidentally Adrian Channing had been writing on the Brownes and mentioned Beechworth on the newsgroup soc.genealogy.medieval, so I wrote to him to ask if he could help. He came back with a flood of superb information, including a fair account of George Browne's family who were ironmasters, mostly making cannon, in Kent in the seventeenth century.

George Browne had bought himself a house in Buckland, Surrey and the nice people of the village had, apparently, made a book for the millennium. Even better, the author Duncan Ferns had it on the internet and I was able to get a copy. It is quite clear that my forbear, George and Elizabeth Browne's daughter Elizabeth, was a co-heir of Buckland, the elder sister even. I wonder what she got when her brothers died as the house went to her younger sister... Perhaps, in the words of the sage (Fougasse I think), she got a cannon and was fired?

There is another book to get, an account of these 17th century ironmasters: "The Iron Industry of the Weald" by Henry Cleere and David Crossley (Merton Priory Press, 1995.) Perhaps, if it is not too late, a nice Christmas present? I am looking forward to reading this as a welcome change from the reams of boring information from title deeds, etc of the many landowners it is so easy to find in our ancestry.

Simon Ricketts has provided the solution to the problem of Mary Goodwin who married the first Ricketts settler in Jamaica. The problem was because Burke had included that she was the grand-daughter of Sir Francis Goodwin of Winchenden, Bucks and who died in 1634; this was too tempting to reject as he had lots of well documented genealogy, but reject it I more or less had because of the conflicting evidence. Now Simon reports that she was really a Goodin, a member of a family of Goodins who had another estate on the island. And there was further inter-marriage between the Goodins and the Ricketts. As yet the documentation is thin but I hope to obtain this shortly and then will correct my files.

Finally in the sphere of rationalisation I forgot to mention last month that I had excised all details of earlier generations of Robert Fitzmaldred. the ancestor of the Neville's, family before his grandfather. Quite simply the information that I had down had no support whatsoever, apart from the meanderings of post-medieval genealogists.

The leaves our early Powys genealogy out on a limb. It is the only remaining serious limb of our ancestry that I have seen no reputable confirmatory documentation for. I think the executioner's axe must be hanging over its head.

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