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September 2003

Smyth's "Lives of the Berkeleys": As some may have gathered, at the end of last year I acquired copies of John Smyth's rare "Lives of the Berkeleys". The particular fascination of these volumes is that they were written between 1618 and 1635 by a man who was close to the shakers and movers.

John Smyth had some of his education with one of the lord Berkeleys and went on to become a lawyer, ending up for many years as the Berkeley High Steward. He was thus in the enviable position of having access to all the Berkeley deeds and charters as well as those in Doctors Commons and as being able to understand them all. Armed with all this knowledge he took it upon himself to write a family history which just bristles with solid fact.

Included with his account of the successive lords of the Berkeley estates, he inserted, with not quite the same thoroughness, accounts of all the Berkeley descendants. I had hoped that this would appeal to one or other of the firms that publish such volumes on CDROM but this was not to be. So I decided that if the mountain would not come to Mohamet, Mohamet would come to the mountain: I would enter up all the genealogy and publish it myself. This was not a continuous task, some days I did nothing, some had a few hours and it took nearly four months from start to finish. But I did it and it is now on my site. Phew!

37 Lines of medieval Descent: Another significant addition is the lists I have made of various medieval lines that are ancestral to us. These are reasonably well-known families, or one or two of particular interest, whose ancestor lived certainly before 1400 and a preferably before 1300 with the majority in centuries before that. My genealogy program churns out these lists for breakfast and some, where there have been lots of marriages between descendants, turn out to be rather large files. YHBW. See the Genealogy section.

Twisdens and Duncans: One or two pleasant discoveries, first I have just found a second Twysden connection, albeit again a family of whom one married a Twisden rather than a Twysden / Twisden descendant. Secondly, through some happy accidents, I have discovered that some Duncans who intermarried with the Twysdens are in fact descended for the same Balfours of Pilrig, near Edinburgh that we are. So Daryl Coup, who has done so much work on the Duncans, and I are now actually related.

Treadaway Hoare: Then a friend of a Treadaway Hoare in the USA has picked up my database entries for my wife's family: she is descended from some of these names. He has been trying to find if there is any truth in the statement of his friend that there was an, illicit even, connection with the banking Hoares. In the process, he has uncovered a host of relations in the 19th century and it looks as if his friends ancestors and my wife's may have been the same family in the first half of the 19th century.

Hallifaxes: And there has been some frustration: legend, including the DNB, has it that my mother's Hallifax (two 'l's) ancestors came from Halifax (one 'l'), Yorks and once had the surname of Waterhouse. Through the excellent Access to Archives site, http://www.a2a.pro.gov.uk/, I had found a pedigree of the Hallifaxes that dates from 1780 or so, held in Suffolk PRO. On receipt of a copy this was substantially similar to a pedigree in my maternal grandmother's hand from the mid twentieth century - and my guess is that hers can be traced to this one that is now in this PRO.

The assertion within this that I have accepted is that that the Barnsley Hallifaxes (the banking branch who eventually settledin Suffolk) and the Mansfield Hallifaxes (the episcopal branch of my maternal grandmother) were both descended from a Robert Waterhouse Hallifax who was rector of Springthorpe, Lincs in the mid 17th century. So I caused some searches in the parish registers of those areas and the result to date is that there is no evidence for this connection. One begins to suspect the old genie of creative genealogy.

Some day I'll get back to some more work on the Hallifaxes but, as everyone knows in these matters, it is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Next: Now is the time to get back to the Visitations. I still have beside me the CDROM of the depressing Yorkshire visitation of 1563-4 and really must finish it off and ignore the ridiculous unsupported and long pedigrees therein. Then I can move on to other counties or later visitations which, hopefully, will be more credible.

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