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July 2008

What a long time since I last did a full site update, in October of last year. I knew I had been concentrating on people of the last two centuries but thought that would not lead to many addition: I was astonished, and gratified, that this comparative inactivity had led to another 1,000 on the master file, I should find out where they all came from.

An important work has been to finalise the update for the College of Arms. While the C of A are prepared to accept my word for all my siblings and their descendants, I eventually found it necessary to get birth and marriage - and divorce - certificates for most of them. I have even acquired the needed certificate for a marriage in a restaurant in the Bahamas. A learning point was that the High Courts have a good skill for finding divorce information and that the bare divorce details are easily available; in the process I enquired if there was anything on my paternal grandparents' separation, but they had registered nothing; on the other hand I have a long series of written exchanges with some lawyers on the negotiations for that separation; the upshot is that I still do not know the date when the agreement was finalised.

Some interest was expressed in all this by sundry relations so I have commissioned the College to do an armorial pedigree showing the descendants of my grandfather; I then hope to make and distribute copies to those who are interested. As ever, I expect the artwork to be superb.

This progress enabled me to attend to the long felt ambition to have some joined up heraldry and genealogy within the College, that is to link together the Trotters and ourselves to endorse the additional quartering of the Trotter arms. The Trotters had last appeared in the College's records in 1868 when the Royal Licence was obtained for William Brown to take the name and arms of Trotter. The complication here was that William Brown had no arms, as the College wished to quarter his with those of Trotter; so he rather hastily applied to the Lyon Court in Scotland for some and these were duly granted in early 1869, a bit late for the Royal Licence, but let us not dwell on that. The much more remarkable thing to me was that William Trotter, formerly Brown, did not bother to register with the College his large family of 13 children, of whom 10 were still alive at the time of the Royal Licence. Not unnaturally, if I was to establish any right to quarter Trotter, I was asked to provide a full list of all William Trotter's children and grandchildren; thus including my grandmother, the asserted heiress.

My grandmother was already in the College's records so the fact that I could assert her existence anyway did me no good. I was obliged to provide documentary evidence for all of them. This was very educative for me, forcing me into nooks and crannies that I had not been too careful about before. The rapidly found first problem was that none, not one, of William Trotter's children had had their birth registered, even though eleven of them had been born after registration started. Slowly I managed to find their baptisms, massively assisted by the photograph I had recently received of their mother's list in her large bible of her children giving their birth and baptism dates. I still believe that all the children were baptised, not least because William Trotter's brother Henry Brown was a clergyman in London and did several of the baptisms. But I have only found eleven of the baptisms; the two not found are both said in all the censuses to have been born in Penshurst Kent, but there is no entry for them in the original parish register which is still held by the parish. I have relied on the censuses as evidence of their birth.

Eventually I found the marriages and wills or admons for all those who survived to adulthood, noting in the course of this that it was much quicker to search for their wills in the will index books than for their deaths on the death certificate records.

The object in all this was to prove that my grandmother was a heraldic heiress. She had three brothers. The two elder died in their thirties and clear evidence survives that they were unmarried at death. Her youngest brother lived to 89 and it is not clear that he died unmarried. We all, of course, knew that he was single as he, on his own, would send us generous Christmas presents to his great-nephews and nieces every year. But this was not evidence; conscious of this I had a few years before his death got my father to sign a pedigree of his mother's family and explicitly confirm that none of his uncles and aunts ever married. I obtained my gt-uncle's will which mentioned no wife or offspring. I hope that will do! The results of my researches, some 89 documents, have been deposited with the College for them to make of it all what they can.

With all this done, I could catch up with the problems of storage for all the files for this site. In total it now amounts to some 357 Mbytes, way in excess of PlusNet's (my ISP) allowance of 200 Mbytes. I had been putting some of it on a little computer by my side here, but I had received complaints that sometimes the connection failed and in any case we turn it all off when we leave the house. So I have installed the whole site on FreeOLA, who impose no storage limit. This meant rebuilding all the links that had been pointing at the little machine here.

This meant I had to examine not a few old offerings and, inevitably, I was a little concerned. Heraldry in particular incurred my displeasure so I decided to take advantage of the larger file space available and hope that most people now have much faster internet links than when I started. Heraldry now has quite a lot of heraldry in it; nothing brilliant but I trust you will find it acceptable as representational art. Heraldry has had a total makeover and is much better for it; I am not a little wiser than when I first wrote those pages. One or two bits still to do, notably the provision of a list of the additional medieval arms that we may quarter; I hope to provide representations of all of these.

Finally, Robert Tipping recently came up with a gem from an old document which rapidly led to a few earlier generations of Latton and Yate ancestors for the Tippings.

The Hamiltons, should anyone wonder, have made no progress.

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