Updates   Home

February 2006

Another late one, much the same problem as in October last. I had accumulated too many things to go through and ask questions about to get it done in time for early January and it has slipped to late February. Apologies for missing the target. Though I think I will keep to the target of three monthly updates as if I extend it to longer, the updates will just get even further behind.

The principal achievement has been to to clearly leave the 20,000 barrier well behind. In December I struggled to find any adequate information to add to my database; I muttered about this to some friends and Caspar Verney came up with a whole host of opportunities, one of which had the pot of gold at the bottom. With this and one or two other discoveries, I have added another 500 odd people to the database to give 20,525 at the time of republication. A striking feature of this has been that the number of known ancestors has increased disproportionately and is now a hundred or so short of the number of known relatives; go here for some statistics.

The pot of gold was found in the Cockburns of Langton. Caspar introduced me to a book written about the family in 1888 "The House of Cockburn of that Ilk" by Thomas H Cockburn Hood. The only trouble was that it clearly said that we had no connection with the Cockburns as their daughter who married a Gilmour married the son of the man from whom we descend. This Cockburn daughter was born around 1650 and our best evidence was from a Lyon Register in 1803, a bit late for accuracy. It took me about a fortnight to be fairly sure that the Lyon Registry was right, principally from birth records filmed and reported in the excellent "Bristish Isles Vital Records, second Edition" by the Latter Day Saints. This said that Jean Gilmour's mother was definitely Margaret Cockburn and there was no Margaret Cockburn as the wife of Jean Gilmour's brother Alexander. The remaining piece to solve in this jugsaw is who was the father of Margaret Cockburn; for the moment I have assumed that it was indeed William Cockburn of Langton and I have started an investigation of the real Scottish records to corroborate this.

So what, you may wonder? The what is Margaret Cockburn's grandmother, Helen Elphinstone (1579-1675) who is mentioned in The Scots Peerage and has a host of ancestors documented there and in Complete Peerage over at least the preceding four centuries. And an earlier Cockburn married a daughter of the Home family, again extending the known ancestry. The process of cross checking and making sense of Scots and Complete Peerage took long periods of time and led to discussions on the soc.genealogy.medieval newsgroup and to two minor corrections to Complete Peerage. The net result of establishing Margaret Cockburn's ancestry has been to add 262 ancestors to the files.

Other medieval discoveries have been from following up articles in the Yorkshire Archaeology Journal by Charles Travis Clay, the author of the final nine volumes of the Early Yorkshire Charters series. He really is an impressive scholar but not one to indulge in public controversy. Regularly instead of raking over the coals in his later volumes, he just refers you to articles he wrote some decades before in the Y.A.J. While I now have eight of his nine EYC volumes, I have none of the YAJ, so this has required journeys up to London to the Society of Genealogists as each new reference has been discovered. In particular his account of the FitzAlans of Bedale has been most pleasant to follow.

In addition to all this, I have much enjoyed corresponding with some distant relatives, etc who have approached me about common interests. Jane Nantais has been the first Hallifax relative to have approached me ever and we have now pooled our knowledge of the respective branches; our common ancestor is Brigiadier Robert FitzWilliam Hallifax who lived from 1804 to 1857. Another most interesting exchange has been with Craig Rosenthal who is taking an interest in the family of May Rawsthorne-Frye, the first wife of Richard Barrington Powys-Lybbe (1884-1950). We knew that May had been a chorus girl with George Edwards, but we knew nothing about her brother Leslie who was an entertainer and broadcaster for over fifty years in England, using the stage name Leslie Sarony, their mother's maiden name. Further their mother's father was Napoleon Sarony who has been a creative and well-known photographer in New York. Then Ian Powys got in touch, a distant cousin from the senior Lilford branch of the family; he produced some New Zealand and Argentina diaries of a Victorian uncle, Arthur Littleton Powys who was killed by some native American in Argentina. I met up with the scion of the Powys-Keck family, Leycester Charles, which family I had no idea to be still surviving and found he lived only a few miles from us.

A great surprise was to find that a very well known contributor, Matt Tomkins, to the Old-English mailing list was in fact doing some research into the ancient inhabitants of Little Horwood, Bucks and particularly into the Pigot family from there. It appears that the Pigot claims to a descent from the landed Yorkshire families of that name are pure rubbish and they came, all along, just from Little Horwood. Some years ago I managed to obtain a photograph of a magnificent heraldic roll of 1598 of the Pigot family which sets out the claimed descent and must now have a break put on it a third of the way down.

In the game of genealogy, all research is good research. I am shortly going to enquire again if a line my grandfather found for his wife's family has any validity. The best I could find previously was that it had a mention in Douglas' Scots Peerage but that Balfour Paul's total revision of this in 1906-10 just left out the old link. I have found it still listed in the latest Burke's Landed Gentry of Scotland but am increasingly doubtful about it. The assertion is that the Carmichaels of Hyndford have a descent from the Campbells of Loudoun. Will I be deleting it over the next few months?

Updates   Home