Retirement is not bliss - there is far too much genealogy to be done. As ever my database seems to have reached critical mass and it is almost growing of its own accord. The daily access to my site is anything from 10 to 20 Mbyte, not quite yet at Demon's limit of no more than 100Mbyte on more than 3 days in a month, but it is getting close. My site is virtually full: I have a steady 18Mbyte stored of the 20 allowed by Demon.
Demon would have me pay more for more space, not quite to my taste. So I have decided to heave a fair chunk of the information to Rootsweb. The advantage of Rootsweb is that they don't charge anything to store the stuff. The disadvantage of Rootsweb is that they put discordant adverts on every page; further it took me the best part of a day to upload the family tree, a truly ridiculous amount of time that was caused by the continual freezings of the link at the Rootsweb end. But once the data is there, it is quite fast and pleasant to use.
This change has enabled me to put right a significant flaw in my database: there was no information on the sources of the information. This was because the program I used, to make a Web display that used low space, did not pick up and display the source information. I had been invited to give a short talk on programs to produce genealogical web pages and in the course of my research I found that only the full genealogy programs, PAF5, Legacy 3, Generations 8 and Family Origins 8 (I could not get Family Origins 9 without paying for it!) showed the aources. Of these the most pleasing to look at were Generations and Legacy, with Legacy having a slight edge. The new GEDCOM to Web converter GEDHTree made a reasonable job of the sources but not quite as good as the genealogical programs. You could have seen examples of their output on:
But the site has now been deleted!
I chose to go with Generations, partly because it happens to be the program I have all my data on and partly because Legacy was so slow to import the file from Generations, taking about three hours to import the GEDCOM file. But then I found two serious problems with Generations, both because the program creates some enormous Web files that take ages to load. First the index file. This is used every time to look up a full name to go to the family record; for my database it was 650 kbytes large. So this had to be loaded in for every index lookup; OK, it gets into cache after the first time, but still caused delays. The problem with the index file is that it is a full list of absolutely everything. There was a similar, though lesser problem with the surname file which was 80 kbyte large. The answer was to split both files up into 26 separate files, one for each letter; this took about three hours and gave a pleasing result. The second problem was the file of source data for each piece of information; this was 380 k byte large and again took some time to load in every time one wanted to see the reference for any one person. I have done nothing about this source file; the only answer is to add the source data to each person and family record and I cannot do this easily; Generations needs redesigning for this.
The number of people on the database is now about 10,600. In February it was about 9,500. Some of the additions have come from Vivian's Visitation of Cornwall, originally published in 1887 and recently reissued as page images on CDROM. Obviously I have taken care with his information and ignored anything that does not have corroboration elsewhere, but it did give a few links between families that I had not otherwise thought to be connected. The newsgroup soc.genealogy.medieval has been particularly productive recently; there have been more and more discoveries of families in Complete Peerage who I thought were just remote individuals of whom nothing was known. Perhaps the recent re-publication of Complete Peerage at a reasonable price has radically extended the number of people trying to make sense of it all.
The medieval newsgroup also led me to some correspondence with the editor of Burke's latest Peerage, principally to correct some minor details of the elder branch of our family. The advantage of Burke has always been that they have tried to include all members of the families (possibly so to enhance sales?) and I have been asked to provide a list of all descendants of Sir Thomas Powys, the great-grandfather of the first Lord Lilford. My main concern in this is whether everyone wants to be so included; must contact them to find out.
A lot of my time in recent months has been spent on heraldry. I decided to bottom out the errors in the tree presented to my father by a herald in 1996. I am not sure how much the herald realised what he was doing but basically the pedigree was a reproduction of whatever was used when my grandfather commissioned a painting of his full achievement of arms around 1928. At any rate the information therein was riddled with errors, some serious, some minor. Of the 64 quarterings, and never mind the possible attainder debarring us form three- quarters of them, five quarters are clearly not our entitlement for genealogical reasons. Either we are NOT descended from chap concerned (two cases) or we are not descended from the chap via an heiress. In addition to that they have included loads of arms created after the person's death - a practice that is still perfectly legitimate. Finally some of the factual notes were wrong, particularly that infamous one about Gilbert Nevill who came to England with the Conqueror in 1066 and for which there is no evidence whatsoever and the chronology of the surviving records makes it highly unlikely. Using Generations' Chart drawing facility I have made a pictorial representation of the genealogy of this with all the errors and problems
and hope to have it on display as a dreadful warning not to believe everything you are told!
Having finalised this account of the College of Arms' lacunae, I discovered there were a few clear heiresses they had left out, with of course their father's attendant arms. The first count gives us an additional 43 quarterings. But some of these will have to be struck out as they are for very early people for whom noone appears to ahve invented arms after their death. The genealogy is sound, though, all the early ones confirmed by entries in Complete Peerage. I am still looking round for authoritative arms for all concerned so it will be a while before I complete this.
But my best find was at a bookshop in Witney, Oxon, where I found an unread, because so many pages were uncut, copy of Cooke's "Early History of Mapledurham". Dr Cooke had provided my grandfather with a short account of the early history of Hardwick, which I now find he published in some journal. But I had not realised that Cooke was so competent a researcher. He traced the ownership of Mapledurham, where he was vicar, from the times of the Conquest to its purchase by the Blount family in 1490. In doing this he revealed various items on the Bardolf and Iwardby families that were otherwise unknown to modern man and has benefited not a few people who hang around soc.genealogy.medieval.
As an example on how one can jump to wrong conclusions, I have for a year or two now been searching for the death of Willima Bartholomew, landlord of The Crown, Ashley, Cambs. I knew he had been alive at his son-in-law's funeral in 1888 as we have a newspaper cutting listing him as amongst the mourners. So I have looked and caused searches in all of the 1891 census, the parish burial registry, the births, deaths and marriages indexes, the will records at Holborn House and nowhere could I find him. I even thought he had gone back to Scotland to die there. As I described in February, I thought I might just have struck lucky with the will fo a William Bartholomew who died in the area in 1917; but this was for his son. A month or so after that, the penny began to drop. Perhaps the William bartholomew who attended the 1888 funeral was not the father-in-law but the brother-in-law, his father already being dead. So, eagerly, I approached my next visit to the Society of Genealogists to see if old William had died before 1888 and after the 1881 census when he was definitely alive. Of course he had, he, and his wife Mary Ann, were both in the death indexes for 1885 with she dying about four months before him. Now for the death certificates for both of them. And perhaps I will also try to find where they were buried.
Finally I have re-presented some items in the interests of clarity. And I have addded in the account of the trial of Dame Alice Lisle, that suspected victim of judicial murder.