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May 2006

Remarkably this quarter's update was just in the third month from the last and even more remarkably the update process was completed in under a day instead of the more usual two or three days. This day included rebuilding the main file from a backup as I had managed to use it for my deletion of living people, not from a special one created for just that purpose (don't ask!). My backup was only three days old, so not much had been lost and I was able to identify those who I had updated in those three days by the "last update date" on the ruined file.

A little joy came into our lives with the news that a Powys-Lybbe had given birth to a son; this was one of our Canadian cousins. There are eight P-Ls still living who were born named that way in England and four in Canada, so it is touch and go whether the name will survive to the next generation. (I must confess that I am still not clear whether this infant has the P-L surname or what.)

Again from over the Atlantic, I have been interested to hear that a maternal ancestor of these Canadian cousins was a chap of Canadian birth who made a good career in New York in the 19th century as an early photographer, one Napoleon Sarony. I have been trying to get hold of an biography of him but Amazon is steadfastly delaying the supply.

After the tour-de-force of the previous quarter on our Cockburn ancestors, I found in the library of the Society of Genealogists another and later book on that family, "The records of the Cockburn family" by Robert and H A Cockburn, pub 1913, that said the previous book was a disaster and hardly worth the paper it was printed on. Fortunately it did not change the principal line of ancestors of these Cockburns, though it had got it right, unlike the earlier volume, that Margaret Cockburn had indeed married John Gilmour of Allanbank.

A quiet enquiry of me by Ainslie Pyne from Australia had led to significant discoveries on our distant Oxenbridge ancestors and to discoveries on other Sussex families of Keynes, Cheynes (two easily confused families that have to be kept separate), Comber and Miller. Ainslie had been in touch with a Peter Oxenbridge of New Zealand who had some years ago done a whole host of serious research into the Oxenbridges and who had found some material in the Journal, the "Sussex Archaeological Collections". Obviously something to follow up and I found that the Sussex Archaeological Society had a library in Lewes with a complete collection of all issues, further they would let me look at it for a modest fee. I drove over and found the Oxenbridge article, I also found articles on Keynes and Cheyneys and in other volumes some excellent research on the Comber family and on the Millers who married a Comber and from whom we are descended. I went at a quiet time and the volunteers there could not have been more helpful. I would thoroughly recommend this library to anyone who has an interest in Sussex archaeology and genealogy.

I have continued to obtain material on our Hallifax ancestors, particularly the pedigree submitted by two Hallifax cousins when their arms were granted in 1788. This pedigree does not improve our knowledge at all as it includes a Rev Thomas Hallifax as rector of Springthorpe, Lincolnshire and the only Hallifax parson there was a John Hallifax who was rector from c. 1643 to 1678. My current and very strong suspicion is that the Hallifax pedigree was manufactured and that the claimed descent from some Waterhouse family just cannot be justified. I think the next steps are to look at the original parish register as the film was difficult to read and also to see what records might survive in the Barnsley area of any ancestors to these Hallifaxes.

But the greatest excitement has come only two days ago. I attended the Annual General Meeting of the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy and there we had a presentation for the launch of an incredible database, Medieval Lands, by its author Charles Crawley. He has been working on this solidly for four years since he retired and his objective has been to create a genealogy solely from the surviving documents of all the major ruling families of Europe, starting with the earliest records. Go to the FMG site, select Projects from the top menu bar. Then select Medieval Lands from the list of projects. Finally, allow yourself several hours to peruse the ansolute mass of excellent material that is there. And this it seems is merely the first edition. It is to be supplanted by the second edition, on which work is already in progress.

Finally I said last quarter that I was reviewing the claimed descent of the Carmichaels from the Campbells of Loudon. In spite of the inclusion of this in Burke's Scots Landed gents, there is no evidence that can be found. So I have deleted the link and now Marion Campbell, who married James (or was he Charles?) Carmichael, now has no known parents.

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