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November 2002

I made a site update in August but never got round to doing the story of the update. My excuse is that it was the final days of preparing my father's old residence for the tenants and I had no spare time.

The principal news of the year is that I finished my Complete Peerage references. Every person I found in Complete Peerage always led to the discovery of a few more relatives. So it went on growing and, from an anticipated hundred or three entries, I now find I have 6,110 separate people on my database who are listed in Complete Peerage. All this proves is that the medieval peers intermarried a lot; find one family and you are likely to find many, many more. And it took me about two years to get this much done and now awaits going through to improve the standard of some of the reference details.

Another treasure has been finding the Pigot Roll, or at least a photo of it in Buckinghamshire Record Office in Aylesbury. This is a magnificent armorial pedigree done in 1598 and whose colours are probably as vibrant as they were then. So I bought a copy of it! I have cross referenced the information on it against a few other sources and it seems to have no problems so have added a few items for the last few generations. The Pigots are ancestors to the Tippings of whom a Sophia Tipping married a Richard Lybbe. Sophia's grandmother was Anne Pigot who was the child of a marriage between two separate Pigot lines with a common Pigot ancestor six generations previously.

I have been extravagant with Rod Neep's ArchiveCD Books operation: I have bought every copy, with a hearty reduction for quantity, they have made of the various Visitations, giving me some 44 CDROMs. For those who don't know, these Visitations were done by Heralds of the College of Arms by royal command. They had to go round the counties concerned and find out who was entitled to bear arms and to note down their descent from known arms-bearers and also note down their offspring. They also charged fees from the people concerned, which were cordially disliked, as are most forms of taxation. But the value remains that they wrote these matters down and either their manuscripts or copies of them have survived. The Heralds did not do any genealogical research, they relied on the arms holders to produce requisite evidence.

I know that the Visitations are unreliable and have found a real howler for the Pooles. But some of the visitation records are wholly reliable, even for many generations back, when compared with high-grade secondary sources such as Complete Peerage. By and large I have accepted the general rule that everyone knows the names of their grandparents and taken that information from the interviewed armigers as factual. And anything else is a finding aid, requiring confirmation from another source before it is accepted.

So I'm going through all these Visitation books, printing out those families who are of interest and then wrestling with the data to see how much of it is of value. I must confess that I have broken my rule on finding aids on a few occasions: some earlier people have been added in; so if you find that a Visitation is my sole source, then put a big question mark in your mind against that person.

I reckon it will be March 2003 before I have finished the Visitations. The advantage of the Visitations are that they contain the gentry families of the 16th and 17th centuries, times when my identifiable ancestors had slid down the social scale and were no longer to be found in Complete Peerage.

Over the summer I have had some very fruitful exchanges with distant relations, some of whom had found me through stumbling across my web-site: Stephen Powys Marks, who is more Powys than me as his grandparents were a marriage of related Powyses and is doing a serious re-evaluation of Caroline Girle's life and work; Geoffrey Simeon who provided loads of information on his family and on our common ancestors, the Barringtons; Caspar Verney for all the information on the Pigot ancestry; Brenda Graham who has much information on the Stockton Ferrands, my mother's family, and on their links to the Dutch Hudig family; Christopher Seal whom I delighted to meet in the flesh on his whistle-stop tour of the British Isles and who knows so much of our common Suffolk ancestry in a brick-making and laying family.

Finally other acquisitions have included:

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