Diary of a Genealogist
Part One: London 1820-1950
Anthony J. Camp
The founder of modern critical genealogy, Horace Round (1854-1928), wrote that, 'Love of genealogical study is an inborn quality. Many who style themselves genealogists are absolutely indifferent to any genealogical evidence that does not bear upon their own pedigrees; but there will always be some, like my own teacher, that eminent historian Stubbs, who have possessed that rare quality, a love of genealogy for its own sake'. I had no inspirational teacher like Stubbs and yet I have never known a time when I was not interested in the subject.
I was not yet seven when Georgiena Cotton Browne, our local landowner, died at Walkern Hall leaving her estate and personal property to a young cousin whose parents organised an auction sale of many of her effects. My mother, who occasionally worked at the Hall, brought home a few unwanted books including A school history of England; with a copious chronology, tables of contemporary sovereigns, and questions for examination (1841). The tables of contemporary sovereigns at the head of each chapter fascinated me. They were for Great Britain, France, Austria, Russia, Prussia, Spain and the Papal States, and ended, of course, with the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837. They cried out to be brought up to date. I think that that is where it all began.
My father, an agricultural carpenter and builder well known to Hertfordshire farmers for his construction of corn-drying silos, was the son of the estate carpenter at Walkern Hall who had married the daughter of a bailiff on one of the estate's farms. My mother, who knew almost nothing about her father who had died when she was two years old, had first come from London to work at the Hall in 1914 and we lived in a Lodge situated on a private road crossing part of the wooded estate with fine views of the surrounding countryside and of the village of Walkern down in the Beane valley. My father had been given the use of the Lodge and 'some responsibility for the integrity of this end of the estate.' The death of 'Miss C. B.' whose family had been at the Hall since 1827, and the many changes that followed, not to mention the not so distant echoes of the War which was ending, caused much anxiety for the future. A few years later the growing New Town of Stevenage, the box-like houses of which were beginning to appear on the distant horizon, threatened to destroy the peace and tranquillity of the valley and magnified our fears.
These feelings of insecurity undoubtedly had a lasting effect and when, after my mother's death in 1973, I gave up the Lodge and moved to London, I frequently had nightmares, imagining houses built on the surrounding fields and frantically recalling the Lodge’s rooms, going from one to another and positioning every piece of furniture, picture, ornament and book, in attempts to recreate the past and not let any part of it slip from my memory. By recording something of it I thought that I might begin to do just that. Like many others and in the same way, after leaving his Russian homeland in 1930, the dancer Igor Schwezoff described in graphic detail his former life there and his need to write things down and the 'overwhelming desire to be able to snatch back a little of the past and to undo something that could never be undone - or could it, perhaps?’
After I went to the Grammar School at Stevenage in 1949, I developed these interests and thoughts in earnest. There was a little covered alleyway down the side of Jeffries' antiques shop in the High Street where cheaper furniture was displayed. A table there with second-hand books was one of my regular haunts after school and whenever I visited the town on Saturdays. There in 1953 I bought a book about the history of Russia which had a lasting effect on my interests, though they never developed in quite the way that I hoped at that time.
Nearby was a branch of Burgess Booksellers and Stationers and upstairs new books were occasionally bought and school prizes chosen. There not long before my father died, he bought for me Chambers's Biographical Dictionary (1950) for twenty-five shillings, a book that I cherished greatly, superior to its more recent editions. I remember him exclaiming in surprise, 'It's all about people!' and my not knowing what to say. Not long afterwards on a bus trip to London my mother bought for me in Charing Cross Road the two volumes of Mark Noble's History of the Protectoral House of Cromwell (1788) for the large sum of two pounds. It kept me busy for many happy hours, compiling vast pedigrees across the floor. My eldest brother had been an agent for National Savings but the large posters that he was asked to display were useless, our house being a mile or more from the village, and so their backs came in very handy for pedigree work and indeed for covering books!
Cheap second-hand biographies could be found in Stevenage's only other bookshop, The Book Nook, further down the High Street and run by Mrs Warren, where at a shilling or so a time, my collection grew. From them and from the biographies borrowed from the public library in Orchard Road I constructed pedigrees of all manner of people. Delving into autobiographies I began to write to the authors of those that took my fancy, asking them to confirm and/or expand the pedigrees that I had compiled. The Russian ones fascinated me and an early correspondent was Baroness Agnes de Stoeckle who had been at the Russian Court before the Revolution and had met Rasputin. Count Constantine Benckendorff, the son of the last Imperial ambassador in London, took an interest in my tables, loaned me a collection of pedigrees of his relatives and provided me with my first copy of the Almanach de Gotha which he had used as a door-stop.
Another place that my kind of books could be found was upstairs at the Book House in Hitchin's Market Square where Eric Moore would sometimes buy from me books that I and my mother had bought across the road at auction sales at the Corn Exchange. Its monthly furniture sales usually included one or two lots of books and my mother would call in after her ordinary shopping and bid a few shillings, bringing home in her bag those that she thought of greatest interest, old maps, engravings and county directories. One day she brought home the fourteen volumes of the leather bound Historians' History of the World, but sadly was obliged to leave the indexes behind! The rarer books that were of little interest, including a nicely bound Breeches Bible of 1560 and a large collection of 19th century engraved bill heads, I traded in at the Book House, buying other books with the proceeds.
Whilst at the Grammar School at Stevenage in the mid-1950s I was encouraged by the history master Charles Jones (1908-1986) to start a project on the history of the town and I borrowed from Miss Grosvenor the notes on its history by the late Edward Vincent Methold (1846-1926) and then explored the many cupboards of documents in the tower at St Nicholas’s church, transcribing large parts of the parish registers, copying many churchyard inscriptions and rubbing the brasses. At the same time I developed an interest in my own family by pestering the local clergy for access to their registers at Walkern, Cottered, Ardley and Shephall, again copying inscriptions and rubbing brasses in these and other local churches. I saw then the unsatisfactory conditions in which the records were often kept, though those at Stevenage had benefited from careful cataloguing in the 1930s. I could take the bus to Hertford and the county record office and there learned about bishops transcripts, wills and other local sources but my early pedigrees were not very satisfactory, the purchase of costly birth, marriage and death certificates from the General Register Office in London being quite out of the question. At Stevenage Museum, however, I was fortunate to get to know Dr John Morris (1913-1977), the brilliant historian and archaeologist who later wrote The age of Arthur (1973), who took me digging at Watton-at-Stone and St Albans, and later facilitated my entrance into University College London to take a degree in Ancient and Medieval History.
It was as a result of reading biographies and writing to people who might add to the pedigrees extracted from them that in 1954 I had first contacted Sir Anthony Wagner (1908-1995), then Richmond Herald at the College of Arms, about a pedigree of Adolf Hitler and an unlikely relationship to Queen Victoria that I fancied I had found. It was Wagner who encouraged the idea of my working either for him or at the Society of Genealogists and I first wrote to the Society, then in a fine old house in South Kensington, on 23 August 1957, wondering if there were any opportunities there before going to university the following year. I suppose the fact that I had already done genealogical work locally in Hertfordshire, including the transcription of some parish registers, as well as projects in archaeology and local history, and been school librarian for three years, all spoke in my favour. As recounted below, and with Wagner's endorsement, I was offered temporary employment and commenced work as a research assistant at the Society a month later.
Sources and Practitioners before 1911
It is not my intention to write a detailed account of the origins of the study of genealogy in England but I hope to sketch out the developments in the nineteenth century that led to the foundation of the Society of Genealogists in 1911 and then to give some account of the people who, for good or ill, were involved in its organisation and with the subject over the next hundred years.
When in 1911 the founders of the Society looked back over the previous century they saw the beginnings of a remarkable change in attitudes to genealogy but they were all too clearly aware that there was still much room for improvement in the work carried out. George Sherwood, in whose office the Society first took shape, called the division 'old and new' genealogy and in the 'old' world there were several things of which he strongly disapproved.
When discussing the possible formation of a society, Sherwood had written, 'Someday perhaps someone will arise with the gift of creating the proper atmosphere. At present we think the study suffers from its association in the public mind with, for example, the heraldic stationery trade, the trade in spurious antiques, manufactured ancestors, and the business of the shady character who ekes out a precarious existence on the reluctant half-crowns of deluded seekers after phantom fortunes'. The following year he wrote that 'Old Genealogy became a byeword for no other reason than that it was neither Literature nor Science'.
Early Pedigrees and the Heralds
The first textbook on genealogical research had been published in England in 1828 and the author, the peerage lawyer Stacey Grimaldi, of whom more will be said later, reckoned that the first printed book to contain a genealogy (in England that is) had come out in 1547. Compiled by a versifier Arthur Kelton and entitled A chronycle, with a genealogie declarying that the Britons and Welshemen are lineallye dyscended from Brute, newly and very wittely compiled in Meter, it showed the descent of the new boy-king Edward the Sixth from one Brutus, supposedly a grandson of the legendary Trojan hero Aeneas (son of Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite) who had fled from the destruction of Troy and the arms of Dido, Queen of Carthage, to found Rome in Italy in 753 B.C. and who married there Lavinia the daughter of the local king, Latinus. This Brutus, it was said, had come to England via Spain and had given Britain its name.
This fable was already circulating in Wales about 769 A.D. when the Historia Britonum associated with the name of Nennius was put together and it was much elaborated about 1135 by Geoffrey of Monmouth for his fictional but influential and widely read Historia Regum Britanniae which was first printed in 1508. The Historia Britonum, not content with a merely classical origin for the royal family, had given Brutus a descent through the Kings of Troy to Jupiter and Saturn, and then to Javan, mentioned in the Bible as a son of Japhet the son of Noah.
Early in the Anglo-Saxon period a king’s genealogy had been regarded as one of his most important possessions. Copies were widespread and the ancestries of the various Anglo Saxon dynasties were traced back to the gods, seven to the storm-spirit Woden and one (that of the kings of Essex) to the god-spirit Saxnot. The welding of these traditional British genealogies of pagan origin to people in classical antiquity or named in the Bible followed the arrival of Christianity, time and the ingenuity of later antiquarians carrying the pedigrees back through Noah to Adam. These later accretions may be easily identified but it is much more difficult to tell how far the original Germanic elements are historical and when the ancestry becomes fictitious. The three or four generations provided by Bede for most monarchs named in his Ecclesiastical History (finished in 731) may be taken as authentic, but the further nine generations to Woden given for Cerdic (died 534), the first King of the West Saxons, and Woden’s fifteen further generations to Sceaf (who was later said to have been born in the Ark) are to be regarded as ‘either fiction or error’. That, at least, was the conviction of the late Kenneth Sisam (1887-1971) who had made a minute study and comparison of the pedigrees.
Apart from the pedigrees of their ruling families the Saxons seem to have had little interest in genealogy but after the Norman Conquest lengthy statements in the courts regarding claims to inherited rights and property became frequent. This legal aspect in which pedigrees were referenced on particular points became of increasing importance and dominated the subject for many centuries. Such statements of descent and relationship, of which there are many from the early thirteenth century on the plea rolls (the records of pleas heard before judges) of the courts of Curia Regis, Coram Rege and de Banco, seem largely to have been based on orally transmitted information, though some of the longer genealogies may have been compiled from written sources, as in the Scrope versus Grosvenor case of 1378 when charters were produced in evidence. All were naturally subject to bias and error.
It was not until the fifteenth century with the development of other antiquarian and topographical studies that collections of pedigrees began to be made, the oldest books dating from about 1480. The involvement of the heralds in genealogy also began in the mid-fifteenth century but became of paramount importance with the Visitations which they made following a Royal Commission in 1530, they touring the country and recording short pedigrees based on family information of those who claimed a right to arms. The heralds were not then normally chosen for their skill in genealogy and some had little critical ability. This coupled with the rise in the sixteenth century of many new families to prominence in a society where the prestige of old blood was great, resulted, as it did in the nineteenth century, in some genuine research but also in much concoction.
As a consequence the heralds’ visitations of the 1560s recorded many lengthy but doubtful pedigrees as well as some fabrications and Horace Round frequently warned against their use as evidence of events beyond the personal knowledge of the informants. It was not until the visitations made in the northern counties in the 1580s that Robert Glover (died 1588), Somerset Herald, began to illustrate the principle that pedigrees should, if possible, be founded on record evidence. Glover made his entries in the form of drop-line, tabular or rectilinear pedigrees, as used by Sir Thomas Wriothesley (died 1534), Garter King of Arms, earlier in the century. By 1618 such drop-line pedigrees had completely superseded the old narrative and crane’s foot forms, the latter with its radiating lines reminiscent of a crane’s foot (or pied de gru) from which the word ‘pedigree’ derived.
A working knowledge of the public records was first brought to genealogical research in the College of Arms by the industrious Augustine Vincent (died 1626), a former clerk at the Tower Record Office and a pupil of the great antiquary William Camden (1551-1623), who was made a Pursuivant Extraordinary in 1616. An apprenticeship system was, into my day, considered important in the practices of professional genealogists who thus had many advantages over the amateur working alone.
One of the first family histories to be compiled seems to have been that of the Berkeley family in Gloucestershire by their steward, John Smyth of Nibley (died 1640) using both public records and the family’s papers and charters in Berkeley Castle. The first to be published, unless we count the fine work of the herald Francis Sandford (1630-1694), A genealogical history of the Kings of England (1677; enlarged by Samuel Stebbing in 1707), was Henry Mordaunt, Earl of Peterborough’s Succinct genealogies of the noble and ancient houses of Alno, or de Alneto, Broc of Shephale … and Mordaunt of Turvey (1685), written under the name ‘Robert Halstead’ but unfortunately containing forged charters and fictitious pedigrees.
Sir William Dugdale (1605-1686), Garter King of Arms, showed his superiority in the field in the skill with which he marshalled his various evidences for the descents of manors in his Antiquities of Warwickshire (1656) and for the descents of baronies and peerage dignities in his Baronage of England (1675-6), he citing contemporary record evidence for every statement made. When he was occasionally deceived by spurious documents, as with those on which rested the claim of the Feildings, Earls of Denbigh, to descend from a thirteenth century Hapsburg, one knows exactly what these were.
The pedigrees of knights compiled by the herald Peter le Neve (1661-1729) when Rouge Croix, show that by the end of the seventeenth century the pedigrees of newcomers to this class needed something more than knowledge of land tenure and he began to use the evidence of parish registers. In 1699 Sir Comport Fitch, whose father had been a carpenter, registered a pedigree at the College of Arms which had apparently been worked out for him by a herald Samuel Stebbing (died 1719). Stebbing had set about it by copying wills, making extracts from parish registers, noting monumental inscriptions, interviewing members of the family, and fitting all this evidence together as best he could. It is an early and elementary instance, as Sir Anthony Wagner says, of what has since become ‘a commonplace of genealogical method’. Church monuments had long been used but half a century later the importance of those in the churchyard for humbler families came also to be recognised.
In this brief overview of the subject prior to 1828 I have drawn on Wagner’s essay ‘The study and literature of genealogy’ in his English Genealogy (1960), which was based on thirty years’ experience in the records and collections created by earlier heralds at the College of Arms. Outside the College there was by the early 1600’s a network of antiquaries spread across the country with, in Wagner’s words, ‘a scholarly approach to documents, helped by legal training and an ardour for genealogies in relation at once to local history, family history and the safeguarding of rights of property’.
The discontinuance of heraldic visitations after 1686 coupled with the rapid decline in the fashion for heraldic display at funerals about 1690 was followed by a breakdown in heraldic authority which lasted until the third quarter of the eighteenth century. This low ebb in the heralds’ activities did not revive until George III’s reign produced men of the calibre of Stephen Martin Leake (1702-1773), Garter, and his successors Ralph Bigland (1711-1784) and Sir Isaac Heard (1730-1822). It was the view of Sir William Blackstone, writing in his Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765-9), that ‘The failure of inquisitions post mortem by the abolition of military tenures, combined with the neglect of the heralds omitting their usual progresses, has rendered the proof of a modern descent for the recovery of an estate, or succession to a title of honour, more difficult than that of an ancient’, and Lord Chief Justice Mansfield wrote that ‘The proof of pedigrees has become so much more difficult since inquisitiones post mortem have been disused, that it is easier to establish one for 500 years before the time of Charles II than for 100 years since his reign’.
Meanwhile, outside the College, an industrious Fleet Street bookseller Arthur Collins (1682-1760), the son of a gentleman-usher to Queen Catherine of Braganza, and a partner of Abel Roper, one of the publishers of Dugdale’s Baronage in 1675-6, produced in 1709 the first edition of a Peerage of England which brought Dugdale up to date and gave the pedigrees of newly created peers. It was an extraordinary success and new editions, regularly expanded, appeared in 1710, 1714 and 1717. Having acquired Dugdale’s manuscript revisions for his Baronage, Collins compiled a much fuller Peerage in three volumes in 1735, followed by further editions in 1741 and 1756, this last, assisted by a pension from George II, in six volumes. After his death, further editions appeared in 1763, in 1779 and finally, edited by Sir Samuel Egerton Brydges (1762-1837) and with a useful index of stray names, in 1812. Collins’s Peerage dominated the eighteenth century and was hugely important as the basis for the pedigrees subsequently adopted by Burke’s Peerage, but, although valuable for the period after Dugdale, its various editions contained much highly inaccurate and mythical early material taken from the old heraldic pedigrees possessed by the various families which, for the favour of a subscription, they insisted should be included. Consequently, of the 294 peers listed by Brydges, thirty-five laid claim to ancestries dating to before the Norman Conquest.
The same was often true of the work of the local and county historians, mostly country parson antiquaries, who followed in Dugdale’s footsteps in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The industry of those who completed whole counties was quite remarkable but many embody fabulous material, their compilers not only being insufficiently critical but also coming under great financial pressure from the subscribers and patrons where their genealogies were concerned. As with the peerage families and the published Peerages, the gentry endeavoured to see their pedigrees published in these county histories and similarly these pedigrees found their way, fables, faults and all, into the coming editions of Burke’s Landed Gentry.
The traditional interests of these county historians were the established church and its buildings and the pedigrees and houses of the gentry and the descent of their lands. Their sources were chiefly, apart from family muniments and pedigrees, the basic parish registers, monumental inscriptions, wills and inquisitions, with only occasional forays into other public records. It is not difficult to understand why.
The first order that registers of baptisms, marriages and burials be kept in the parish churches throughout England and Wales had been made in 1538, but as every genealogist knows that does not mean that they necessarily survive from that date or have been regularly and carefully maintained. Their value as a source of information for relationships in those families that did not own land had been realized by the end of the seventeenth century and in the eighteenth century concerns for their proper keeping and preservation were already being expressed. Ralph Bigland (1711-1784), then Somerset Herald, an active and competent professional genealogist perhaps better known for his interest in tombstone inscriptions, in 1764 put out for five shillings a 96-page work, Observations on Marriages, Baptisms and Burials as Preserved in Parochial Registers, stressing the need for the registers to be accurately kept 'for the benefit of society'. His plea for fuller entries, a national marriage register, and for each parish to keep a record of its tombstone inscriptions, fell on deaf ears but would, it has been suggested, have made him the 'patron saint of modern genealogists'. Bigland had, in early life, been a cheesemonger and his interest in genealogy was roused, it is said, by his family's successful claim to an inheritance.
At the end of the eighteenth century a very few copies of registers were then made by local antiquaries. The Society of Genealogists has a neat transcript of the Ixworth, Suffolk, registers, made by Simon Boldero, who apparently commenced work in May 1675, and a copy of some part of the early Leeds, Yorkshire registers from 1572 onwards, was held by a local surgeon, James Lucas, in 1791. However, the historian of parish registers, Edmond Waters, believed that in general, 'the negligence of the eighteenth century was more destructive than the civil wars of the seventeenth' and it has been rightly said that registers posed and, of course, still pose serious problems for the unwary researcher, for 'They tantalized by being at once sufficiently complete and seemingly comprehensive to encourage the belief that a full genealogy could be constructed, yet they had too many gaps and omissions for it to be done'.
Rose's Act of 1812 required that the registers be kept in iron safes in the parish church but said nothing about a fee to be paid for searches in them; indeed it was generally assumed that the public had no right of access except by favour of the clergyman and churchwardens. Indeed the Chief Justice, Lord Tenterden (1762-1832), had declared that he knew of no rule of law that required the parish officers to show the books 'in order to gratify the curiosity of a private individual'. The Civil Registration Act of 1836, however, which brought in the centralised civil registration of births, marriages and deaths in 1837, ordered that those having in their keeping 'any register book of births, deaths, or marriages, shall at all reasonable times allow searches to be made ... on payment of one shilling for a search of one year, and of sixpence for every additional year', and 2s 6d for every certified copy. No provision was made for the extraction or listing of uncertified information.
Some clergy were quick to point out that register books of births and deaths did not include register books of baptisms and burials and that all extracted entries should be treated as certified copies but as a result of a test case in the Court of Exchequer in May 1853 it was ruled that registers of baptisms and burials were covered by the 1836 Act and that anyone who paid the search fees was entitled to make such extracts as he or she chose. The Court’s important ruling, little publicised and frequently overlooked, resulted from a case brought by an attorney whose clerk had been charged the extortionate fee of £4 7s 6d for twenty-five baptismal entries in the surname Taylor which he had seen and noted in four years, 1827-30, at St Mary Newington, the parish clerk working on the basis that each entry should be charged at 3s 6d.
Anyone needing to search the registers of several parishes might consult the annual transcripts of the registers which the clergy were supposed to send to their bishops, if he (or she, though women were practically non-existent in this field at the time) was aware of their existence, the transcripts survived and access to them could be obtained on payment of heavy unregulated fees at the diocesan registry, but otherwise separate visits to the various churches would need to be arranged with attendant delay and expense, coupled with the unknown obstacles and fees which might need to be faced at each church. The fees were widely regarded as the perquisites of the clergy and as there was no clear guidance as to how they should be calculated, unscrupulous clergy resorted to various subterfuges to inflate them, particularly when applications for searches were made by post (the fees being for personal inspection of the registers by the enquirer). Many clergy, although not willing to admit it, did not have the skill to read the early registers in their care and blamed their inability to read the writing on the 'bad writing' of the originals.
For the next 130 years genealogists and local historians, increasingly horrified at the dreadful conditions in which many parish registers were kept, their steady deterioration, the ease with which they might be falsified, and the annual disappearance of some through fire or theft, saw centralised deposit and the removal of the registers from the hands of the clergy as the only possible answer to the years of neglect that they had suffered, though with the passage of time, deposit in the Public Record Office rather than in the British Museum was more frequently urged, there being no viable local alternatives. The importance of the registers to the legal fraternity in London in their inheritance and peerage cases is amply demonstrated by their involvement throughout the century in moves to secure their future safety.
In the 1820s the great antiquary and bibliophile Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872) advocated that all the registers prior to 1700 should be deposited in the British Museum and that modern copies should be made at the expense of the parishes concerned. He had personally witnessed the destruction of parchment by the many gold-beaters, glue-makers and tailors active in his time. A census of the surviving registers in England and Wales had been intended by Rose's Act in 1812 but was not carried out. However, the statistician John Rickman (1771-1840), Clerk of the House of Commons, after consultation with the solicitor John Southerden Burn (1798-1870), author of a recent work on parish registers, Registrum Ecclesiae Parochialis (1829), persuaded the authorities that a survey be undertaken as part of the 1831 census. It revealed, when compared with a few earlier county surveys, enormous recent losses, though some registers previously thought to have been lost had since been found. Burn was then employed by the Government in the preparation of the Civil Registration Bill of 1837 and as secretary to the two Royal Commissions on non-parochial registers.
A case in 1844 which involved parish registers and attracted widespread publicity seems typical of much that was happening in the first half of the nineteenth century. A notorious adventurer from Cardigan, John Bowen, who dabbled in local records and genealogy, had for some time been obtaining money from poor local people by pretending that they had claims to the Whaddon Hall Estate in Buckinghamshire long occupied by the Selby Lowndes family. Following the death of the celebrated miserly banker James Wood (1756-1836) of Gloucester (his face well-known from caricatures and toby jugs), Bowen took an interest in Wood’s disputed will and worked on behalf of John Wood of Brierley Hill who claimed, without a shadow of real evidence, to be one of his heirs at law. In July 1843 Bowen went to Pirton in Worcestershire and was caught in the act of tearing a page from the marriage register of Croome d’Abitot in order to remove evidence of a marriage in 1741, a false alternative entry for which he had already managed to insert in the bishops transcripts of Croome at the diocesan registry.
At his trial at Gloucester Assizes in 1844 Bowen was described in the calendar as a labourer but ‘had the appearance of a man of 50 years of age occupying a respectable station in society’. Newspapers of the day said that he was sometimes called ‘Captain Bowen’ and had been in the Merchant Service but at the time of the 1841 census he gave his occupation as ‘Army’. He was sentenced to be transported for seven years, but at the end of his trial William Selby Lowndes (1807-1886), a Magistrate and Deputy Lieutenant for Buckinghamshire, applied to see the papers found on Bowen at his arrest and it was widely reported that the two had some secret financial arrangement. In any event following Selby Lowndes’s intervention John Bowen was ‘on account of ill health’ not transported. Well publicised claims to both the Wood and Selby estates continued until late in the century. William Selby Lowndes had a major interest in other antiquarian matters and was a claimant to the ancient Baronies of Monthermer, Montacute and Grandison.
Between 1841 and 1847 John Southerden Burn had been in partnership at 1 Copthal Court, Throgmorton Street, with the prominent peerage lawyer Stacey Grimaldi (1790-1863), himself well known as the author of our first genealogical textbook Origines Genealogicae, or the sources whence English genealogies may be traced (1828). Both would have been distressed at the stories of further loss and neglect of registers that continually appeared in the periodical Notes and Queries which had commenced publication in 1849. A second edition of Burn's book, entitled History of Parish Registers, appeared in 1862.
In 1863 the Government brought in a Bill to extend civil registration in Ireland which would have excluded catholic marriages from its provisions and this exclusion was attacked by the barrister Robert 'Edmond' (Chester) Waters (1828-1898) in an article, hurriedly written in February 1863, for The Home and Foreign Review. Waters (who had adopted the surname Chester Waters) believed that a complete system of registration without regard to religious belief was absolutely necessary and to him the omission of catholic marriages was a 'grievous error'. He pointed out that following the introduction of the centralised registration of births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales in 1837, two Royal Commissions in 1838 and 1857 had resulted in the authentication and centralisation of over 3,000 non-parochial registers. The Scottish Act of 1854 had not only introduced a centralised registration of events in Scotland but had made provision for the preservation and centralised custody of the existing registers. Chester Water was not alone in condemning the deficiencies of the Irish Bill and before the end of the Parliamentary Session a further Bill was introduced to cover Catholic marriages, both coming into force on 1 January 1864, but unlike in Scotland no provision was made for the preservation and custody of the earlier registers.
Chester Waters' article was revised and enlarged into a 47-page booklet, Parish Registers, in 1870. In it he described Burns' book as 'a pleasant and intelligent guide' but after Burns' death in June that year, he made it clear that although he acknowledged Burns' pioneering work, he had not been impressed by Burns' 'frequent inaccuracy of quotation' and 'want of power to grasp his subject' and he, although a bedridden invalid, consequently further revised and extended his own booklet as Parish Registers in England: their history and contents: with suggestions for securing their better custody and preservation (1883).
The impetus for this latter work, compiled in such painful circumstances, had been another case involving parish registers in which this time the clergy were also involved and which consequently gained additional publicity. Early in 1881 a former naval officer, the Revd William Henry Edward Ricketts Jervis (1843-1914), then living at Lexden in Essex, announced that he was claiming the title and estate of Viscount St Vincent. He was the grandson of Captain William Henry Ricketts Jervis, RN (1764-1805), the eldest nephew and heir of the first Viscount, but he was not able to prove that the Captain had married his grandmother Cecilia Jane Vinet. In 1880 he therefore advertised for evidence of the marriage, offering a reward of £500. A former naval seaman originally from Ireland, the Revd Patrick Morrison Flinn (c.1844-1928), Rector of Holy Trinity, Shaftesbury, produced an entry which he said he had found in his register for 1802 and claimed the reward. However, the bishops’ transcripts proved conclusively that the entry had been substituted for the real marriage of a couple named John Peacock and Ruth Day. By very curious coincidence the peerage claimant had earlier been a curate in that same Shaftesbury parish with, of course, access to the registers. The Bishop of Salisbury had the matter investigated but it was said that there was not sufficient evidence against either man to ensure a conviction and the inquiry was dropped. By then the page of the register which had been tampered with had been torn out and had disappeared. The case again illustrated the great importance of the duplicate bishops’ transcripts and was used to lobby for their universal deposit with the Registrar General. Searches revealed that Miss Vinet had subsequently shown that she was not married to Captain Jervis by later marrying as a spinster at Kensington in 1807 and Mr Flinn, who for a while was later Rector of Mawgan in Cornwall, got into financial difficulties, went bankrupt in 1891 (when he showed himself a wholly unreliable witness), and migrated to Australia where he died at Mosman in 1928.
Meanwhile Chester Waters’ revision of his book had also been spurred on by the introduction into the House of Commons on 19 April 1882 by William Copeland Borlase (1848-1899), Liberal M.P. for East Cornwall, of a Parochial Registers Preservation Bill 'to make provision for the better preservation of the ancient Parochial Registers on England and Wales'. Borlase, a wealthy antiquary and archaeologist, had been much influenced by the constitutional lawyer Thomas Pitt Taswell-Langmead (1840-1882) who had, when only eighteen, written to N&Q urging the centralised deposit of all original registers, and who subsequently published a pamphlet, The Preservation of Parish Registers (1882). Taswell-Langmead in fact drafted the Bill and Borlase wrote a preface to the pamphlet.
However, there was considerable opposition from other antiquaries to the Bill’s centralising provisions. It would have placed all registers and bishops transcripts (the copies which the clergy were supposed to send annually to their bishops) prior to 1837 under the Master of the Rolls for eventual removal to the Public Record Office, though the registers from 1813 onwards would remain in the parishes for twenty years from the passing of the Act before being centralised. Indexes were to be made and searches allowed at a rate of 20s for a general search, 1s for a particular search and 2s 6d for a certificate. The archdeacons and rural deans of Lincoln sent out circulars to their clergy with a view to opposing the Bill but the solicitor-antiquary Walter Rye (1844-1929) wrote later that 'no sane man' accustomed to searching registers before 1754 could doubt that the proper place for them should either be the Public Record Office or a diocesan fire-proof registry as Burn had suggested.
Borlase's Bill never went to a Second Reading and was withdrawn on 5 July 1882. Chester Waters, who had meanwhile published a much respected history of his family, wrote that 'the exigencies of public business prevented the subject being discussed during the late session' but that 'there is little doubt that a similar Bill with some modifications will sooner or later receive the sanction of Parliament'. He was overly optimistic. Apart from the opposition of the clergy, many believed that the removal of the registers to distant London would be a great discouragement to local research, arguing that many county histories could never have been written if the registers had not been available for local consultation. It was a view taken by Sir John Maclean, the author of The Parochial and Family History of the Deanery of Trigg Minor (3 vols. 1872-9). Chester Waters, in his Parish Registers in England (1883), argued forcefully that transcription of the registers, with a second copy deposited locally, was the only answer. He wrote that those parishes that wished to retain a copy should pay for it from the local rates and he quite wrongly believed that, 'the growing taste for antiquarian studies and an increased sense of responsibility amongst the clergy has arrested the course of destruction'. However, he now had a major disagreement with Horace Round who thought him a poor medieval scholar and a plagiarist and henceforth, as Raymond Powell says, ‘assailed him mercilessly’, not least it seems because as a result of his work he had received a pension on the Civil List.
The vulnerability of the registers was graphically shown in a trial at Liverpool in May 1886 when it was found that following the death of Richard Harrison at Warrington in 1863, his relatives had fought over his property and that two claimants (deceased by 1886) had inserted more than fifty fictitious entries in the parish registers in at least four churches (Preston, Kirkham, Poulton and Lytham), altering and erasing others, and similarly, in the diocesan registry, altering or ruthlessly destroying the bishop's transcripts as well as forging marriage licence bonds. The Cheshire antiquary John Parsons Earwaker (1847-1895) wrote a detailed account of the trial and although he lived in distant Abergele in North Wales he strongly supported Borlase’s Bill and concluded that ‘the sooner Mr Borlase’s Bill for the removal of all the Parish Registers to Somerset House becomes law the better’.
However, the involvement of William Borlase with the abortive 1882 Bill proved unfortunate for a few months after Earwaker’s warm endorsement Borlase was ruined by bankruptcy and a well-publicised scandal in which his Portuguese mistress played a large part. Ostracised by his family, he went to Ireland for a time and died in 1899. Taswell-Langmead, who had just been appointed Professor of Constitutional Law at University College, died at Hove in December 1882, aged 42.
Taswell-Langmead's wording of the 1882 Bill was criticised by Arthur John Jewers (1848-1921), a practising surgeon dentist in Plymouth who was also an antiquary and had himself transcribed and printed the registers of St Columb Major in Cornwall. Ironically, when congratulating Jewers on his publication, Borlase had written, 'In it some Borlases do not appear to advantage. I hope they were of another family'. Jewers had written to Borlase about his Bill in 1882 but in 1884 he published a pamphlet, Parish Registers and their preservation, in which he said that the Bill showed 'considerable ignorance of the actual necessities of the case'. He then set out a formidable and most expensive scheme by which the Civil Service Commission would appoint a 'Parish Register Preservation Department' consisting of an inspector-general, four inspectors, twelve clerks or writers, a secretary, an accountant and keeper of books and records, and an index compiler, all of whom were to be experienced palaeographers. These persons were to transcribe the nation's registers and bishops' transcripts, initially prior to 1799, and, being provided with the services of one or more printing presses, were to print fifty copies of each register, thirty copies being strongly bound in leather and certified. The original registers and one copy would remain in each church, the bishops' transcripts being sent to the Public Record Office and the other copies distributed to various libraries and repositories or sold. The total costs of the department, Jewers estimated, would be £15,000 a year.
It appears that Jewers caught, at this time, something from William Borlase, for he now left his wife and children at Plymouth and, describing himself as a bachelor, married (without the convenience of a previous divorce) a much younger woman, Gertrude Shilton, in Islington in 1887. He worked as a dentist at Wells for a while and then moved to London, his abandoned wife running a lodging house in Plymouth. Arthur Jewers's new young sister-in-law, Dorothy Shilton (1884-1962), lived with the couple and was infected by his enthusiasms, she becoming a well-known record agent and very much later, marrying in 1934 her partner the archivist Richard Holworthy, an active early member of the Society of Genealogists whose first wife had died in 1933.
Jewers's approaches to various Members of Parliament soon revealed their doubts as to the funding of the project that he had outlined. The writer Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924) wrote immediately and realistically about the Bill, 'I fear it will be difficult to get it passed' and said, 'In the meantime could not a society do something of the sort, with such registers as the clergy will consent to have printed'. Lord Salisbury wrote that he had 'no influence whatever with the Treasury, with whom such a decision would lie'. The genealogist George W. Marshall wrote that he was in favour of the removal of the registers to London but that, 'What is most wanted is a Royal Commission to enquire into their present condition ... not more than one parish register in ten is safe from destruction now ... The idea of getting registers transcribed and printed is good, but impossible to put into practice'. Jewers thus turned his attention to the possibility of a Royal Commission and concluded, along with the active Sir John Lubbock (1834-1913), then M.P. for London University, and William Borlase himself, that a Royal Commission might indeed be the answer.
To achieve this he conceived the idea of presenting a memorial or Petition to the Queen, signed by the Archbishops and Bishops of the Kingdom, that a Royal Commission be appointed which would name up to six commissioners to inspect and report on the extent and condition of the registers in their districts, and print fifty copies or 'a complete abstract' of any register found to be in decay. In 1891 Jewers, who was also a fine heraldic artist and was working on a complete record of the monuments and inscriptions in Wells Cathedral, persuaded the Bishops of Bath and Wells and of Ely to take the initiative and write to the others. The Bishop of London wrote that although willing to sign, 'it cannot be acted upon without Parliament', but Jewers continued to collect signatures from various individuals and societies into 1892 when, at the suggestion of the Archbishop of Canterbury (Edward White Benson), the idea was abandoned. The Archbishop had apparently given the impression that he would personally put the plan to the Privy Council but in July 1894 wrote to say that he could not recall agreeing to make any such proposition. The archbishop died suddenly in October 1896 but Jewers persevered and immediately renewed his assault on the new archbishop, whom the Bishop of Ely saw about the scheme in February 1897, but with little headway, the Bishop of Ely writing realistically, 'I think there may be a great difficulty in getting the Chancellor of the Exchequer to agree to start this new office & staff'.
Meanwhile the passing of the Local Government Act in 1894, with its enabling powers to create local record offices, had given some hope of reform and during its passage the barrister John Cumming Macdona (1836-1907), M.P. for Rotherhithe and formerly Rector of Cheadle, who was very aware of the conditions in which many registers were kept, expressed the opinion that all the records in parish churches should be removed. Registers were, however, specifically excluded from this Act’s provisions.
Early in 1897 Jewers heard that Macdona intended to introduce a Bill that would apparently place the registers in the diocesan registries in each cathedral city. Although advised by the antiquary Sir Henry Howorth (1842-1923) who was M.P. for Salford (and latterly a Vice-President of the Society of Genealogists), Macdona seems to have had little idea of what his Bill would mean in reality, but it was first read on 26 January 1897 and had its second reading on 17 March 1897. It then sank without trace.
Two days after the first reading the genealogist Edward Alexander Fry, of Birmingham, Secretary of the newly formed Parish Register Society and an active member and secretary of the British Record Society, wrote very firmly to Jewers about Macdona's Bill saying that he was 'entirely against the removal of either Parish Registers or Records of any class to central depots either in London or elsewhere' and that 'Mr Macdona would do well to bear in mind that the Registrar General prohibits the searching of such Registers as are now collected at Somerset House under the 1837 Act & if that is done now the same could undoubtedly occur again to any fresh additions ... He certainly will have the most strenuous opposition from the clergy themselves or the bulk of them. The yearly Diocesan Conference would warmly take the matter up, I feel sure adversely to his opinions'. Seemingly in no way discouraged Jewers continued until at least 1904 to promote his scheme for a Royal Commission, writing letters and interviewing bishops and archbishops, but all without effect.
The problems continued to be discussed in the pages of Notes and Queries and to be raised at the Congress of Archaeological Societies which published two Reports on the Transcription and Publication of Parish Registers in 1892 and 1896. Its important resolutions in 1900 following the revelations of the Shipway forgeries case are discussed below. In his book on the case William Phillimore, like Fry, had expressed himself strongly opposed to any idea of centralised deposit.
The situation continued to be argued at length by Joint Committees of Convocation which produced four reports on The collection and custody of local ecclesiastical records between 1905 and 1916. But it was only after the creation of the network of county record offices in the second half of the twentieth century that suitable places for deposit became available locally in each county and, after the legislation in 1978 described below, that the majority of the older registers were deposited and removed from the uneven care of the clergy.
By the turn of the century there was no shortage of books and pamphlets on the subject, they including Edward J. Boyce's History of Parochial Registers (1895), the Revd Nigel W. Gresley's pamphlet The history and custody of parish registers (1889) and, as we shall see, William Bradbrook's The Parish Register (1910) for Bernau's Pocket Library and J. Charles Cox, The parish registers of England (1910) for the series of Antiquary's Books.
Arthur Jewers left a more lasting monument in the work that he did for the City of London’s Library Committee between 1910 and 1919 when he and his second ‘wife’ copied the surviving inscriptions and arms in the whole of the churches in the City, in five beautifully indexed volumes. Probably in recognition of this work he was granted a pension from the Civil List in 1918. He died at Hampstead in 1921, aged 73. Twenty years earlier Jewers had given a short account of his family to Fox-Davies's Armorial Families in which he omitted to mention his second wife but claimed that a male-line ancestor had changed his name from Eure to Ewers in the seventeenth century and that he was rightfully 'fourteenth Lord Eure, Baron of Wilton', a claim not elsewhere recognised.
Sir Thomas Phillips had printed parts of a few early registers, the first apparently being Durnford, Wiltshire (1574-1650 only), in 1823. Various people unrealistically suggested that all the surviving registers should be transcribed and printed but, in view of the magnitude of the task, J. S. Burn urged in 1856 that only those before 1700 be tackled and later in 1868, when F. Fitz Henry proposed through the pages of N&Q the formation of a Society to print registers, Burn quickly wrote that the ‘printing of a vast number of uninteresting registers … would be an enormous expense without a corresponding benefit to the public’.
However, later in the nineteenth century some genealogists began to transcribe and publish registers in a systematic way. The Harleian Society, which had been founded in 1869 to print 'the Heraldic Visitations of Counties and any manuscripts relating to genealogy, family history and heraldry', subscribers paying one guinea a year, in 1876 published the whole of the registers of Westminster Abbey from their commencement in 1607 to 1875 in a remarkably detailed edition by Colonel J. L. Chester (of whom more will be said later) and the following year that Society established a Register Section with the intention of printing as many of the more important parish registers as the members' subscriptions would allow, in the event mainly limiting its work to the London area, but including the registers of Canterbury Cathedral edited by Robert Hovenden, St Paul's Cathedral edited by John W. Clay, and Bath Abbey edited by Arthur Jewers.
Granville W. G. Leveson Gower (1838-1895), of Titsey Place, Surrey, who edited the first register for the Harleian Society, that of St Peter Cornhill in two volumes in 1877-9, had considerable doubts about the value of printing these registers in full and was concerned at the cost involved. He wrote that it would 'encumber' the volumes 'with a large mass of useless and uninteresting matter' and he argued that the society's business was 'only with the record of those who at the time the entry was made were persons of recognised social position'. It was a view shared by Chester Waters who wrote 'to print the whole mass [of registers] in extenso, is practically out of the question on the ground of expense' and 'it must be acknowledged that a very small proportion of the whole number of registers has any interest whatever for the general public'. Leveson Gower copied no further registers for the Harleian Society, but his whole family were interested in genealogy. His grandson Richard Leveson Gower (1894-1982), a regular supporter of the Society of Genealogists, whom I knew well, was for a time a professional genealogist with the well-known firm of Hardy and Page, and Granville's brother Arthur (1851-1922), who was in the diplomatic service, copied and published vast numbers of tombstone inscriptions on his missions abroad. I also knew Arthur's daughter Victoria (1887-1977), a god daughter of the Empress Frederick, and helped her to identify some of those named in the diaries of her brother William, a clerk in the House of Lords but killed in action in 1918. I remember one day her pouring out on my desk from her knapsack for identification a pile of the most beautiful Victorian seals which had belonged to her grandmother Viscountess Milton.
In 1889 the Congress of Archaeological Societies and the Society of Antiquaries appointed a joint-committee to consider the best means of assisting transcription and publication, but unfortunately although many registers were subsequently copied, the committee’s recommendations, published in 1892, were that the registers be copied to the year 1812 only. A vigorous correspondence in N&Q followed and in 1895 Edward Alexander Fry revived the idea of a general ‘Parish Register Society’ as Sabine Baring Gould had suggested in 1884. This time, largely through the efforts of George William Marshall, a society was formed in 1896 and continued to print complete registers until 1935. Local societies for the publication of registers were similarly established in several counties, including Shropshire in 1897, Lancashire in 1898, Yorkshire in 1899, Staffordshire in 1901 and Surrey in 1903. The Huguenot Society of London had begun to publish the Huguenot registers in 1887 and similarly the Catholic Record Society, founded in 1904, began printing the surviving Catholic registers the following year.
Following the above-mentioned recommendations, most printed transcripts covered the registers from their commencements up to the introduction of the 'printed form' registers for baptisms and burials in 1813, but some were taken to 1 July 1837 when the civil registration of births, marriages and deaths commenced at the General Register Office. Despite the initial optimism of the Parish Register Society, it was a slow and haphazard progress, much depending on the work of interested local historians and clergy.
The solicitor-genealogist William Phillimore Watts Phillimore (1853-1913) had argued in N&Q that only the marriage registers should be copied (as they formed one thirteenth or fourteenth of the average register) and these only to 1812, and he did not think that indexing was urgent. Believing also that 'one of the chief obstacles to the completion of a pedigree is the difficulty of obtaining the names of the wives', he therefore began to produce through his firm Phillimore & Co Ltd, founded in 1897, the first of a very long series of volumes containing transcripts of marriage registers only, mostly from the smaller parishes, and by the Second World War had covered about 1,650 parishes in 238 volumes. The first volumes owed much to the work of the Revd James Harvey Bloom (1860-1943) and Arthur Scott Gatty (1847-1918) then York Herald (subsequently Garter), a skilled genealogist and formerly a secretary to Stephen Tucker, Rouge Croix.
As early as 1885 George William Marshall had compiled a list of those registers that had been printed, including in this the manuscript copies that were freely available in public libraries. This was printed in The Genealogist and he later made a similar list for the Parish Register Society, Parish Registers: a list of those printed, or of which MS copies exist in public collections (1900) to which that Society added appendices in 1904 and 1908. In 1908 again G. F. Matthews put together his Contemporary index to printed parish (and non-parochial) registers, showing where copies may be found in some public libraries of London, Leeds, and Manchester and that same year Arthur Meredyth Burke produced his useful Key to the ancient parish registers of England and Wales, listing the dates at which the registers in each parish commenced and noting those that had been printed.
The value and utility of some form of central index to the entries in the available copies of marriage and baptismal registers was, it seems, first recognised by the record agents Ethel Stokes and her friend Mary Louise Cox who in about 1898 set to work to form 'a general index' to 'Parish Registers before 1837' in order, as they later announced, 'to overcome the difficulty of finding records of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, unknown'. Their intention was to compile indexes that might be consulted on similar lines to the centralised indexes of births, marriages and deaths which, from July 1837, were being compiled quarterly to cover all England and Wales at the General Register Office.
Mary Louise Cox (1873-1936) was the daughter of a prosperous law-stationer in Chancery Lane and would have been familiar with the Public Record Office from an early age. In 1901, when 27, she described herself as 'ancient records searcher' working on her own account. Ethel Stokes (1869-1944), born in St Pancras to another prosperous family that afterwards lived in Maida Vale, had similarly been a searcher at the Record Office from the age of eighteen. About 1898 the two friends formed a 'Record Office Agency' and in 1904 as 'Stokes & Cox' took an office at 75 Chancery Lane, though they lived with Ethel's aunts in Castellain Road. In 1911 they jointly described their occupation as 'Hunting up genealogies & other historic records in British Museum & other places'. They retained their office until 1939 when Ethel Stokes gave up her record agency work, her friend Mary Cox, who then lived at Highgate, having died in June 1936.
The couple believed that the period just prior to the introduction of civil registration in 1837 was the most difficult genealogically and they initially concentrated on the London parish registers, attempting to index on slips the years 1790 to 1812 or to 1837 if the registers were easily available. Entries from the surviving Bishops Transcripts of the Diocese of London from 1800 to 1837 seem to have formed the basis of the index, and the years missing from the Transcripts, which only commence in 1800, are also generally missing from their Index. These London Transcripts had previously been little used and were widely thought, as Stacey Grimaldi stated in 1828 and William Phillimore repeated in 1888, not to have commenced until 1813. Richard Sims wrote in 1861 that it had ‘never been the custom for the Clergy in this Diocese to transmit duplicates’.
By 1907 the Index contained three million entries and was being further expanded by the regular addition of marriages from the county volumes of the Phillimore marriage series as they were printed and from other available transcripts and publications. These included entries from the many typescripts of London registers and bishops transcripts that, from about 1929 onwards, were being made by William Harold Challen (1888-1964), of Carshalton, which he gave to the Guildhall Library and partially to the Society of Genealogists (which he had joined in 1920). Ethel Stokes who herself joined the Society in 1928 and was elected a Fellow the following year, spent many hours on the work, generally extending the index back to 1780 where possible, as is clear from a typescript list of the parishes included that was made after her death.
In the 1930s when Percival Boyd began to produce the typed sections of his marriage index, the Stokes & Cox index contained material that was not 'in Boyd', particularly for London and Middlesex which was one of the first sections that Boyd typed, but following the typing of his Second Miscellaneous Series in the late 1950s it seems likely that the majority of these additional parishes (many from the Phillimore series) had also been slipped by Boyd. Only the material from the London Bishops Transcripts then remained unique to the Stokes & Cox index.
Following her partnership with Mary Cox, Ethel Stokes had seen a rapid increase in work and she acquired a remarkable knowledge of early sources and, as a tribute in The Times said, a fine scholarship and a technical methodology of the highest order, she being engaged over a long period in peerage claims and in the composition of detailed articles on medieval baronies for The Complete Peerage. In 1912 she had edited an index to the PCC Wills 1605-19 for the British Record Society and followed that with volumes of transcripts of the Liber Ecclesiae Wigorniensis, of inquisitions post mortem for Gloucestershire and Wiltshire and of feet of fines for Warwickshire.
In the late 1920s, Ethel Stokes together with Miss Joan Wake (1884-1974) from Northampton was instrumental in expanding the work of the British Record Society into records preservation generally and when the British Records Association was founded in 1932 she was successively its chairman and honorary secretary. On the outbreak of War in September 1939 she gave up much of her record agency work and threw herself into records preservation, setting up an office at the Public Record Office (where she also ran a canteen and would sleep in an improvised air-raid shelter under the Library table) to review material sent for salvage, and remaining extremely active in that field until her tragic death in 1944, she being struck by a taxi in Great Russell Street when leaving the British Library. Harvey Bloom, the expert on medieval deeds, also spent his final years during the War worrying about records sent for salvage. The dreadful 'paper pulping', as his daughter Ursula wrote, became 'the nightmare of his old age, the ever-abiding ghost that walked with him'. Bombed out from his flat in Balham he moved to Stratford-upon-Avon and continued his work calendaring the charters in the Birthplace Library there.
Ethel Stokes had maintained her office in Chancery Lane until 1939 and the exact whereabouts of the great index that she had been instrumental in compiling is not known. It may have been in store somewhere but as a result of enemy action the greater part of the baptismal index was destroyed. Very fortunately the marriage index survived and at some stage it seems to have been acquired by Henry William Sayers (1876-1962), of Thames Ditton, who, as described below, had taken over the extensive next-of-kin business of the De Bernardy Brothers, initially at 25 Bedford Row and then, from at least 1924, at 59-60 Chancery Lane. At the latter address he and his wife Annie Lydia worked with John Herbert Pallot as genealogists and record agents, specialising in Chancery work and intestacy or next-of-kin cases, their telegraphic address being 'Sayersanco'.
John Herbert Pallot, who had been born in Jersey in 1904 and whose wife Elsye was a qualified accountant, lived at 2 Lawn Road, Hampstead but also had an office at 59-60 Chancery Lane, at least from 1933 until the War. His firm Pallot & Co was at 2 New Court, Carey Street, from 1946 until 1960 (he living at Harrow in 1951-55), and Henry and Annie Sayers continued to work with him. Both died in 1962, John Herbert Pallot being their executor. Meanwhile in 1961, Pallot & Co had been succeeded at 2 New Court by another firm of genealogists, Andrew & Co. The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies acquired the index, by then known as the Pallot Index, from John Andrew in 1972, the Institute adding slips for marriages in some further London parishes.
Although mentioned in Bernau's International Genealogical Directory in 1907-9, this extremely useful tool had remained almost unknown to working genealogists until this time. It was then said to contain 'several million marriages' in the London area between 1780 and 1837. The index became better known in 1978 following somewhat extravagant claims made for it in a full-page advertisement in The Genealogists’ Magazine, though many professionals considered the minimum search fee of £4 then charged by the Institute too high. Later, when the 'Pallot Index' was published on CD-ROM by Ancestry.com in 2001, it was found to contain 1,695,352 records from 2,600 parishes.
The genealogical value of monumental inscriptions has been recognised for centuries. The first book collecting them was probably the inaccurate Ancient Funerall Monuments (1631) by John Weever (1576-1632). In 1700 the Hertfordshire historian Sir Henry Chauncy, quoting Sir Edward Coke, wrote that inscriptions served four uses or ends but chiefly, ‘They are Evidences to prove Descents and Pedigrees’. In the eighteenth century Ralph Bigland, already mentioned as the author of the first book on parish registers, seems to have been the first to recognize the importance of tombstones as a source for those below the status of gentry and to copy them systematically. He collected local inscriptions in the 1740s whilst selling cheese to the armies in the Low Countries during the War of the Austrian Succession, long before he entered the College of Arms in 1757. In Gloucestershire he noted great numbers of inscriptions in churches and churchyards, many since lost, for his Historical, monumental, and genealogical collections relative to the County of Gloucester (posthumously published in 1791-92).
Bigland was followed in this work by numerous 19th-century antiquaries and local historians, though most copied only a selection of the inscriptions that they found and even these were mainly those inside the churches. The destruction of many church monuments during the nineteenth century ‘restorations’ was a source of great disquiet to some of them and drew an unusual and heartfelt cry from the young antiquary Edward Peacock (1831-1915), of Bottesford Manor, Brigg, about their value for the ancestry of the ‘common people’ which appeared in the Stamford Mercury in 1861. He wrote with passion and foresight that ‘the desire to possess knowledge concerning our ancestors arises from no vulgar pride of ancestry, but from a natural instinct to connect ourselves with the far-off past. This instinct is felt as much by the poor as by the rich; it displays itself as strongly in the yeoman and the peasant as it does in the nobleman. … We most of us … are sprung in many lines from the common people; there are not many, we will hope, who are ashamed of this, or would wish to blot it from their own or other people’s memory. Is it not then a grievous thing that, by the meddling of churchwardens and others, we should be deprived of that which we now value highly, and which future ages will reprobate us for having permitted ignorant people to destroy? Genealogical investigations have always presented great attractions to a free people; as our race becomes more educated it is probable that the pleasure taken in the study of family history will be much more general than it is now. Already, America and Australia look to us to furnish them with materials of their forefathers’. The damage that had been done in Peacock’s county can be seen from the number of monuments noted between 1828 and 1840 by William John Monson (later 6th Lord Monson of Burton) which had disappeared or been destroyed by the time those notes were published in 1936. In the little church of Tallington, for instance, ten of the eleven monuments and a hatchment had gone.
It is thought that a Durham journalist and antiquary, Cuthbert Mills Carlton (1832-1892), was the first to make a complete copy of all the inscriptions in a particular place for his valuable The monumental inscriptions of the cathedral, parish churches and cemeteries of the City of Durham (1880), something that he himself considered important and of which he was proud. In the churches and churchyards of London and Middlesex the work of Frederick Teague Cansick (1855-1918), both printed and manuscript was noteworthy but far from complete. By the turn of the century several genealogists were copying all the stones in their areas, the work of William Gerish in Hertfordshire, mentioned later, being a notable example. On 8 September 1900 the active Revd James Harvey Bloom, Rector of Whitchurch, wrote to The Times regretting the widespread destruction of memorials and urging their transcription, as the earlier ones gave ‘information of relationships, offices held, places of residence and details of age which can be obtained nowhere else’.
In the year that the Society of Genealogists was founded (1911), a few subscribers formed the English Monumental Inscriptions Society, its leading light being the Revd Thomas William Oswald-Hicks (died 1939, aged 77), Honorary Secretary and Editor of the Register of English Monumental Inscriptions, of which two volumes, mostly relating to Suffolk, were published for 1911/12 and 1913/14. He was probably thinking of the long established Association for the Preservation of the Memorials of the Dead in Ireland, founded in 1888, that did so much valuable work there and continued to publish its Journal until 1937. His society was however a casualty of the First World War.
Because proof of pedigree in relation to estates and titles was such an important element in the work of early genealogists the value of the probate records maintained by the church courts throughout the country, was also early recognised. In the seventeenth century Sir William Dugdale had made use of the wills proved in the senior court, the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his Baronage of England (1675-6). In the next century the use of wills by historians became frequent and in 1780 the antiquary John Nichols (1745-1826) published all the surviving royal wills prior to 1508 in a volume, the first of its kind, Collection of all the wills now known to be extant of the Kings and Queens of England and every branch of the royal blood. The earliest index or calendar of wills compiled for publication seems to have been that made for Nichols about 1779 by his fellow antiquary Andrew Coltee Ducarel (1713-1785) who indexed the wills at Lambeth Palace, but the scheme to publish it did not materialise as the fees charged for the consultation of the Lambeth index would have been lost to the Palace dignitaries. In 1826 the peerage lawyer Stacey Grimaldi was asked 10s 6d for consulting it.
Most of the wills that had been proved in the bishops' consistory and archdeaconry courts were at this time deposited in the diocesan registries around the country. However, there were in addition a large number of small 'peculiar' courts that claimed the right to prove wills, the records of which were frequently held in private hands and not easily accessible, so that, as Stacey Grimaldi wrote in 1828, the persons whose wills were proved in them were often presumed to have died intestate. Altogether there were in England and Wales at this time about 370 courts that had the right to prove wills and grant administrations.
In 1822 the young and aggressively practical antiquary-genealogist and former naval lieutenant Nicholas 'Harris' Nicolas (1799-1848), shocked not only by the number and variety of the courts but by the conditions in which many of their records were allowed to exist, had written to the Archbishop of Canterbury suggesting that a centralised 'General Registry of Indexes' to wills proved and administrations granted be set up in London. He had mentioned that no list of the courts in the various dioceses then existed, there was no guide to their jurisdictions and much less any guide to their records, so that after a fruitless search in the main court, the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, any enquiry for a particular will could be a lengthy process. The Archbishop did not reply.
As a consequence Harris Nicolas had himself compiled such a guide, Notitia historica: containing tables, calendars and miscellaneous information for the use of historians, antiquaries and the legal profession (1824), which, as he later wrote, proved useful 'in exciting attention to the manifest inconveniences which so many courts created'. He reverted to the subject in the preface to his Testamenta vetusta: or abstracts of wills of the royal family, nobility and gentry, from the reign of Henry the Second to the accession of Queen Elizabeth, illustrative of the manners, dresses, household furniture and customs of that period; and of the descents and landed possessions of many distinguished families: with biographical notes (2 vols. 1826), making some characteristically strong comments on the regulations of the Archbishop's Prerogative Court at Doctors' Commons. The publication of further similar collections of wills was urged by Joseph Hunter (1783-1861) in his History of the Deanery of Doncaster (1831) and the oldest local record society, the Surtees Society, produced the first of many such volumes in 1835.
Meanwhile the attention of Edward Protheroe (later Davis-Protheroe; 1798-1852), M.P. for Evesham, having been drawn to the lack of information on the courts and their records, he promoted several parliamentary enquiries that sought to clarify the complicated situation, calling in 1828-32 for details of the probate jurisdictions claimed by the various courts then active, their fees, records, safety and frequency of use. Following the publication of the important Returns respecting the jurisdiction, records, emoluments and fees of ecclesiastical courts (Command Paper 205, 1830), Harris Nicolas poured scorn on the confusion revealed in the registries, their ridiculous number (there were 28 in the Diocese of Bath and Wells and 38 in that of Lichfield alone), the exorbitant fees and the vested rights of the officials, in his Observations on the state of historical literature and on the Society of Antiquaries ... with remarks on record offices, and on the proceedings of the Record Commission (1830). The later Reports ... into the practice and jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts in England and Wales (Command Paper 199, 1832) largely agreed with the points made by Harris Nicolas and, as he wrote, 'showed the existence of serious evils in glaring colours'. They recommended that the peculiar courts be abolished and that one centralised registry be formed.
However, the numerous officials of the courts for twenty-five years resisted any reform with, as Harris Nicolas said, 'feverish tenacity' and he sadly did not live to see the outcome, but the whole paraphernalia of ecclesiastical jurisdiction in matters testamentary together with the powers of the small temporal courts that claimed the right of probate was eventually abolished by the Court of Probate Act 1857, which created, as from 12 January 1858, the Principal Probate Registry in London and forty District Registries throughout England and Wales (with others in Ireland) which were given specific geographical areas of jurisdiction. In 1875 the Court of Probate was incorporated into the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division of the High Court (now the Family Division).
The geographical areas of jurisdiction given to the District Registries bore little if any relation to the former boundaries of jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts. Some Registries were situated in county towns and served whole counties, but in Lancashire, for instance, there were registries at Manchester and Liverpool serving those towns and another at Lancaster for the rest of the county. However, the pre-1858 probate records of the ecclesiastical courts were hurriedly split off from their other records and moved from their ancient homes in the cathedrals and diocesan registries to the nearest available probate registries. Some of these diocesan registries had long traditions of careful records’ preservation but in others, particularly those of the smaller jurisdictions, the records had often been stored in the most appalling conditions. Some had suffered frequent moves and consequent losses. Now their records were to be divided and those relating to probate sent to the probate registries. In the diocese of London, for instance, many records were stored at St Paul's Cathedral in muniment rooms, 'in a turret on the north side of the Cathedral above the Lord Mayor's Vestry'. Officers from the newly created Probate Registry visited the Cathedral in 1861-3 to 'roughly arrange' the records before taking them away, finding it impossible to do more 'in a place so dark and dirty'. All the records of a purely ecclesiastical nature were left upon the shelves but anything of a mixed character was brought away, including some books that contained no probate material at all and which consequently became quite inaccessible to the historian.
The records remained at the various probate registries for almost a hundred years, sometimes in conditions that were far from ideal and they were the subject of frequent complaint by genealogists and other historians. There was often 'neither accommodation for searchers nor any inducement to officials to give facilities for search', access only being allowed if it was no 'impediment to the business of the registry'.
In London the Principal Probate Registry was initially located at Doctors' Commons 'one of the queerest old rookeries in London' to the south of St Paul's Cathedral and at the corner of Bennet's Hill and Great Knightrider Street, which, apart from a short period after the Great Fire, had been the home of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury since 1572. Following the 1857 Act it received also the records of many of the courts relating to the Home Counties as well as those of the dioceses of Sarum (in Wiltshire and Berkshire) and Oxford and of the Archdeaconry of Richmond in Lancashire and Yorkshire.
The search room at Doctors' Commons was open every day, February to September, 9 am - 4 pm, and October to January, 9 am to 3 pm, but the conditions both as regards the storage of the documents and the facilities for their inspection were, throughout the nineteenth century, cause for complaint. In 1826 Harris Nicolas complained bitterly of the obstruction and rudeness of the officials and in April 1848 Lord Braybrooke, President of the Camden Society and fifteen members of its Council sent a strong memorial to the Archbishop of Canterbury about the monstrous office fees levied for the consultation and copying of wills, no information being available except in the form of office copies and all copies from 1383 to the present day being charged at the same rate. His office was, they wrote, ‘probably the only public office in the kingdom which is shut against literary enquirers’. The Archbishop (John Bird Sumner) evasively replied that he ‘had no control whatever over the fees taken in that department’ and the Camden Society in January 1853 wrote fiercely to the Commission on ecclesiastical courts saying that the authorities in the Prerogative Office with its ‘offensively enforced’ rules, stood alone as the only depository of historical documents in which there was not only no feeling whatever in favour of literature and historical enquiry but also 'an anxiety to retain extravagant fees'.
However, following the abolition of the ecclesiastical courts in 1858, further representations by the Camden Society and the Society of Antiquaries to the newly appointed Judge, Sir Cresswell Cresswell (1794-1863) of the Principal Probate Registry, were rewarded when he agreed to 'literary' searchers (i.e. those not working for lawyers) with suitable references being allowed free access to records prior to 1700. The Camden Society marked this 'era in our literary history' by publishing in 1863 a volume of wills, edited by John Gough Nichols and another industrious antiquary, John Bruce (1802-1869), which had been made without payment of office fees.
Daniel Kirwan, writing just three years before the abolition of Doctors' Commons, said that, 'The lawyers who practice here are all well to do, snug, aristocratic old fellows, and enjoy good living and nothing to do as no other disciples of the legal profession can', but a chronic shortage of space there had already been relieved by taking some of the records to Somerset House and in the late autumn of 1874 the whole of the remainder was taken in waggon loads down Ludgate Hill, up Fleet Street and along the Strand to rooms on the south side of that building which had been vacated by the Admiralty on its move to Whitehall. The Principal Probate Registry was formally opened here on 23 October 1874 and this was its home until 1998. The wills were stored in a long gallery under the terrace overlooking the Embankment and produced to the public in a ‘large and handsome apartment’, Room 32, immediately above and on the ground floor. Here the calendars of wills in the various courts were made available. There were three clerks who did indexing and attended to the public and there was one seat for those who had obtained permission to see filed wills and calendars without charge.
In 1862 another room, Room 9, with six tables and chairs had been provided for literary searchers and named the Department for Literary Inquiry. However, this was in the basement facing the quadrangle and although it was a high room and had a wide area outside its windows, it had no artificial lighting and consequently the opening hours were restricted from 11 am to 2.30 pm in the winter and from 10 am to 3.30 pm in the summer. In the summer, to add insult to injury, this cold, dark and unpleasant room, later likened to a 'cellar' by Ethel Stokes, was closed altogether for six weeks. No searcher was admitted on more than two days a week even if he or she had made an appointment in advance. The 'privilege' of working here was frequently hammered home and anyone who complained was threatened with the room's closure or the withdrawal of their literary permit. Following protests and a petition by scholars in 1884, however, a second room was thrown into this room and a total of twelve or fourteen seats provided. That only three had been allowed for in the original regulations was still being argued in 1913.
Room 9 held duplicates of the calendars upstairs where they existed, but this was not usually until after 1660, and the others had be requisitioned and brought down. As at Doctors' Commons the literary non-legal searchers who had obtained permits from the President of the Probate Division were here allowed to see registered copy wills prior to 1699 without charge. Within three years of moving to Somerset House that date had been moved to 1760 and in 1884 it was further extended to one hundred years from the year of search. In theory, if the required will had not been registered, searchers were supposed to be able to see the original will on payment of a shilling but that became more and more difficult and latterly access to the originals was almost entirely prohibited. No copying by the readers was permitted, all copies being made, sometimes quite incompetently, by the staff and for fees. Two staff alternated in the management of the room and there were two messengers who fetched the heavy books of registered wills and the smaller act books, though only eight books could be seen on any one day.
In 1872 the able scholar John 'Challenor' Covington Smith (1845-1928), whose father had also been in the Civil Service, was appointed Superintendent of 'the Literary', as Room 9 was often called, and from then until 1892 he played an active part in the work and development of his small section. In 1882 he had greatly assisted the philologist Frederick James Furnivall (1825-1910) with his Fifty earliest English wills in the Court of Probate, London for the Early English Text Society and Walter Rye says that 'he was ever ready to offer valuable suggestions and assistance to all who are earnest students and not mere triflers' but that he was removed to another department 'apparently to prevent the Search-room from becoming too popular'. Earlier Rye had said that without Challenor Smith 'matters would indeed go badly with any enquirer' and that his 'special knowledge of his subject and unfailing courtesy especially fitted him for the place' but that he had 'for some inscrutable reason been removed from it'. Immediately on leaving 'the Literary', and the two events are probably not unconnected, Challenor Smith compiled for the British Record Society in 1893-5 two volumes of an index to the earliest wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury 1383-1558, 'the finest privately compiled calendar ever printed'. Challenor Smith had lived for some years at Richmond in Surrey and in 1903-5 the local Parish Register Society published two volumes of his transcripts of the Richmond parish registers. In 1919 he compiled an index to the wills recorded in the archbishops' registers at Lambeth Palace and he produced a number of articles for genealogical periodicals.
When the records were first transferred to Somerset House there were plans to print calendars of them, but a pilot scheme to index those of the Court of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster proved too laborious and that volume alone was printed in 1864 (but not distributed). The two Record Keepers involved in its compilation, John Smith and Joseph Frederick Coleman, had found, as they wrote in the introduction, that every piece of paper had to be examined and properly arranged first of all and that where, as in London, different courts used a common registry, the records had often been 'mixed or misfiled'.
However, in January 1882 George Hook Rodman (1836-1910), the son of a bottle merchant in Chelsea, was appointed Assistant to the Record Keeper. He had worked in the Probate Registry from an early age and had been responsible for collecting the London records from St Paul's Cathedral in 1861-3. He was now given the task of superintending the indexing and arranging of the ancient records at Somerset House which at this time held the records of some 76 courts, plus another 27 from the diocese of Salisbury. For more than twenty years he laboured at their repairing, sorting and calendaring. Under his direction a small group prepared many of the parchment manuscript indexes or calendars in fine Victorian handwriting which are still in use today as the standard means of reference to the records of the courts in the London area, though some have been superseded by modern printed indexes prepared by private record societies. When reviewing his work in the 1960s the archivist Ida Darlington wrote that he had 'a fund of industry and patience', taking 'particular pains to note down everything he did either in investigating the provenance of the wills or in repairs or other alteration to their format'. Walter Rye speaks of Rodman as 'a gentleman of long experience ... ably assisted by Messrs Cheyne and Rouse'.
The first of these assistants, Ernest Cheyne (1853-1903), was the son of a surgeon in Marylebone. He came to the Probate Registry with a university degree in the late 1870s to work with Rodman and is also remembered for his work on the indexes. He died in harness in 1903. In those years Dr Samuel Anderson Smith (died 1915) had written 14,000 index slips to the wills proved in the Prerogative Court, 1558-83, and these Cheyne checked against the Act Books whilst Challenor Smith prepared an index to the places, the whole being edited by Leland L. Duncan for publication by the Index Library in 1898. Ernest Cheyne spent most of his working life in the Registry and his two beautifully written indexes to the Oxfordshire wills 1516-1732, completed in 1902, which form the basis of the British Record Society volumes published in 1981, have been described as 'exceptionally accurate'. It was perhaps significant that Challenor Smith had retired before his index was published and Ethel Stokes later told the story of the registrar at Nottingham who had, in his sparer moments, made a calendar of the wills there with the idea that it should be printed, but the authorities at Somerset House had refused him leave to do so, saying that it was the property of the office.
Apart from the official returns made in 1828-32, the various courts and their records still lacked any form of basic manual but in 1895 the barrister George William Marshall, then Rouge Croix Pursuivant of Arms, compiled A handbook to the ancient courts of probate and depositories of wills. I have the copy that George Sherwood bought for 6s 8d and began to annotate and index by county in 1898. It remained the standard reference work until Bethell Bouwens produced his Wills and their whereabouts in 1939.
One might think that in spite of its underground location and restricted hours that all was well in the Literary Department but that was far from the case, many of the later clerks there being quite unsuited to the work. Differing interpretations of the rules found William Henry Benbow Bird (1857-1934), the editor of the Close Rolls, being turned away when Room 9 was half empty because, he was told, the messengers could not be expected to work after 12 a.m. if prior to that time they had done 'all that was required of them'. Herbert Chitty (1863-1949), the Bursar of Winchester College, not having a literary ticket, had been refused a chair to sit on although many were available and he was obliged to stand in a dark corner away from the window, as he said, 'like a naughty boy', though following a petition in 1900 reflectors were installed to improve the light. Herbert Chitty was particularly disgusted at the prohibition on note taking and the need to memorize facts from the wills and then to go outside to write them down. It is said that the antiquary Lord Monson (1796-1862) was fortunately blessed with a peculiarly retentive memory and after reading a will a few times could commit its substance to writing, for the slightest attempt to take notes of its contents would at once be stopped by the vigilant officials.
These petty restrictions on note taking (still technically in force into the 1960s) and the seating problems annoyed a growing number of people. Prominent amongst them was a genealogist, Gerald Fothergill (1870-1926), who later played an important role in the early years of the Society of Genealogists. He lived at Wandsworth and had become a record agent when a teenager at Willesden in 1887. The son of a prosperous railway signal engineer, Fothergill was a friend of the librarian Henry Robert Plomer (1857-1928) who also lived at Willesden and was well known for his books and articles on the biographies of booksellers and printers, the research on which had taken him regularly to the Literary Department.
As a record agent Fothergill specialised in the English origins of migrants to America, charging $125 for a month's work. Interested in 'Hidden Relationships' he too made regular visits to 'The Literary', where he made indexes to the stray names mentioned in the wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in the years 1660, 1700 and 1770. Already in the 1890s he was in correspondence with his local Member of Parliament about access to records generally and for thirty years he waged a long war with various authorities about freedom of access.
Gerald Fothergill was particularly active in 1903. In March that year he and Henry Plomer sent out a circular calling a meeting at 30 Little Russell Street to discuss the possible formation of a 'British Records Preservation Society' with the stated aim of abolishing restrictions and fees for the inspection and copying of records and compelling custodians to observe their legal obligations. That proposed society, however, did not get off the ground. Henry Plomer, who had agreed to be the Secretary, withdrew in May because of the very small response that they had received and because his main aim was to reform the Literary Search Department.
However, on 30 May 1903 the periodical The Athenaeum published a strongly worded article, 'Somerset House and its management', signed 'Archivist' but written by Henry Plomer, drawing attention to the many grievances of the regular searchers, and in June, Vicary Gibbs (1853-1932), M.P. for St Albans and later editor of The Complete Peerage, followed this up by asking the Secretary to the Treasury, Arthur Elliot (1846-1923), ‘in view of the lack of facilities offered for research in their present situation’ to consider the transfer of the ‘ancient wills which possess only a literary interest’ to the Public Record Office. Gibbs was firmly told that under Section 66 of the Probate Act 1857 legislation would be necessary and that the President of the Probate Division 'does not think that any serious inconvenience is caused to literary searchers by the present arrangements'.
The article in The Athenaeum had, however, caused something of a stir, Plomer writing to Fothergill, 'The fat is in the fire at Somerset House with a vengeance'. Everyone suspected Fothergill of having written the article and George Rodman, the superintendent of the room, was particularly indignant at the article's comment that 'one of the two attendants should have been placed on the retired list long ago' and was going about saying that several noted Americans had made presents to him for his attention to them! The giving of gratuities was another matter of concern that continued throughout the Department's history; at the British Museum, as the Royal Commission reminded a witness, attendants who took gratuities were dismissed. However, mainly as a result of this rumpus, the 'elderly attendant' was retired, the hours were very slightly extended, the seats were allocated more fairly, and the fourteenth seat, about which there had been unseemly squabbles until the President, Sir Francis Jeune, personally intervened, was made permanently available.
On 22 April 1905 The Athenaeum published a further letter complaining about the illegible state of many of the probate calendars, which meant that the attendants had to bring down the duplicate volumes from Room 32. There was still no electric light in Room 9 which was lit only from the area, although lighting had been installed in Room 32 which overlooked the Embankment and had good natural lighting. The number of will volumes that might be produced to any searcher on one day was still limited to eight. In 1910 Fothergill organised a petition, worded along the lines of the article, to the President of the Probate Court and although signed by many readers, its only result was to end the annual closure of the room in the summer, though even that took another year to implement. In 1912 the newly formed Society of Genealogists announced that the President of the Probate Division (Sir Samuel Evans) in compliance with the petition had ordered the Literary Research Department to remain open during the Long Vacation (except for ten days for cleaning), from 11 am to 3 pm and from 10 am to 1pm on Saturdays, and that an attempt would be made to obtain for public use there copies of any printed calendars and lists taken from its records.
In 1807 a Record Commission had reported that the condition of the country’s national records in their various repositories was a growing scandal, ‘unarranged, undescribed and unascertained … exposed to erasure, alienation and embezzlement … lodged in buildings uncommodious and insecure’, and in 1836 a Select Committee of the House of Commons had proposed that they all be brought together in one repository and in the care of one man. Consequently, in 1838 an Act of Parliament had placed the ‘custody, charge and superintendence’ of the records in the hands of the Master of the Rolls (then Lord Langdale) who was to be assisted by a Deputy Keeper of the Records with a staff of Assistant Record Keepers and other workmen. Until the records could be centralised the various offfices were to continue to operate as branches and the Act required the Treasury to fill all the posts in the new office from staff already employed in the branches who might otherwise be entitled to compensation.
The majority of the older ‘public’ records which were derived from the courts of law, the departments of state and the other agencies of central government, were described by Stacey Grimaldi in 1828 and were then either in the Chapter House at Westminster Abbey or in the Tower of London. It was to the keepers of these two repositories that he gave particular acknowledgment in his Preface.
At Westminster Abbey the fine thirteenth-century polygonal Chapter House had in medieval times been the meeting place of the House of Commons but in 1547 the Commons moved to the Chapel of St Stephen in the Palace of Westminster and the Chapter House, its tall windows blocked and with galleries and an upper storey replacing the original vaulting (taken down as ruinous in 1740), was converted into a government record office, mainly for the Exchequer records which included Domesday Book, the medieval tiling being covered with a wooden floor.
In Grimaldi’s time the Keeper there was the antiquary John Caley (died 1834, aged 71). Although Caley drew two salaries as Keeper of the records, he was also secretary to the Record Commission, 1801-31, and responsible for many of the financial and administrative scandals with which it was surrounded. He afterwards received an additional £500 a year to superintend the arranging, repairing and binding of the records, something which, in the words of the Dictionary of National Biography, he did ‘in a most disgraceful manner, the lettering and dates being inaccurate in almost every instance’. His office was ‘dirty and dark’ and as its contents were in the utmost disorder the public were rigidly excluded and he kept the few lists and keys to the records at his house in Exmouth Street, Spa Fields. Applicants for documents had firstly to apply there and the records were then brought up in bags from Westminster by his footman. As the wrong documents were frequently brought, it was said that a search which at the end of the century might take two days without charge, could be prolonged through two weeks, the fees involved depending entirely on Caley’s pleasure.
Caley died in April 1834 and the story is told that a few months later, on 16 October 1834, when the Houses of Parliament were destroyed by fire, the wind began to drive the flames towards Westminster Hall and the Chapter House, just across the road. Thousands watching that night saw two figures on the Chapter House roof, surveying the scene: Francis Palgrave (1788-1861) the Keeper of Records and John Ireland (died 1842), the conservative Dean. Before the wind changed, Palgrave suggested that they go down and carry the most valued treasures into the Abbey for safety. Dean Ireland ‘with the caution belonging at once to his office and his character’, as Dean Stanley wrote later, replied that he could not think of doing so without applying to Lord Melbourne, the First Lord of the Treasury, for the Chapter House was Government property! However, only a few years later the new Public Record Office in Chancery Lane began to receive the Chapter House’s contents. Only then, in 1865, was the building restored to its former glory.
The Tower of London had been the main repository for Chancery records throughout the Middle Ages and in the time of Charles II a Record Office was formed from the Chapel of St John the Evangelist and a large neighbouring room under the roof of the White Tower. However, it suffered a long decline and transfers of records were ‘limited and spasmodic’. The antiquary Samuel Lysons (1763-1819) was appointed Keeper there in 1803 and increased the staff from one to six. Amongst the newcomers were two young nephews of his brother Daniel Lyson’s first wife, Sarah Hardy (died 1808). They were the sons of Major Thomas B. P. Hardy, R.A., who had died in the West Indies in 1814. The eldest, Sir Thomas Duffus Hardy (1804-1878), who commenced work as a junior clerk at the Tower in 1819 and rose to be Deputy Keeper at the new Record Office in succession to Sir Francis Palgrave in 1861, is considered the father of the Historical Manuscripts Commission . His younger brother, Sir William Hardy (1807-1887), came to the Tower in 1823 and also rose to be Deputy Keeper, specialising in peerage claims.
These two boys were trained by Lysons’s successor, another antiquary Henry Petrie (1768-1842), who had a reputation for remitting fees for literary searches. However, in 1828 Grimaldi expressed his best thanks for assistance to John Bayley (died 1869), who had worked there from an early age but, like Caley, was notorious for his exorbitant charges. He was a better scholar than Caley, as evidenced by his History and antiquities of the Tower of London (2 parts, 1821-5), but owing to his long absence from business his office at the Tower was declared vacant in 1834 and he moved to Cheltenham. However, irregular deposits of records continued to be made here until 1842 and for some decades had overflowed into much of the Wakefield Tower, but in 1857 everything was removed to Chancery Lane.
As well as these two major record repositories there were also fifty or so smaller repositories dotted about London. On the Rolls Estate in Chancery Lane, the Rolls Office and its Chapel, which had effectively been occupied by the Master of the Rolls and his predecessors since the thirteenth century, had received from the Tudor period many rolls and records of Chancery and other official records. Other records, removed in 1830 from sheds at the end of Westminster Hall, were sent to the Royal Mews at Charing Cross (demolished to make room for the National Gallery in 1835) and ended up in a large repository in Waterloo Place adapted from the former stables of Carlton House and called ‘Carlton Ride’. Here the testy antiquary and historian Joseph Hunter, formerly a Presbyterian minister and mentioned above for his interest in probate records, was nominally in charge. Yet another large repository, housing the records of the former Secretaries of State from the seventeenth century, was the State Paper Office in Duke Street, Westminster, near St James’s Park, but these papers were placed under the Master of the Rolls in 1855 and the building pulled down in 1862.
Prior to the 1860s, access to the records in these many repositories, as Jane Cox wrote, ‘was restricted in a rather haphazard way; there were as many record keepers as there were repositories, and each guarded his charges jealously. Only the tenacious and the relentlessly inquisitive could get to see them and use them for historical or legal purposes’. However, following the 1838 Act it was agreed in 1840 that the various offices would be open from ten until four except on Sundays. Searchers were to write their particulars in a day book and were allowed to make pencil extracts or copies from the records. A fee of a shilling was payable for a general search in all the available calendars or indexes and another shilling was charged for each inspection. Thee fees could be commuted at five shillings a week, provided the search was limited to one family or place, or to a single object of inquiry, but the £1,100 taken in 1842 in fact came mainly from charges for 1,250 office copies. The officers themselves could no longer take fees or gratuities from the searchers or act as record agents other than in discharge of their official duties. It is thought that in 1842 the total number of searchers could not have exceeded twenty a day, the Chancery records at the Rolls Chapel being the most frequently consulted. Lack of adequate indexes resulted in many unnecessary productions. Someone like the industrious and highly critical Nicholas Harris Nicolas, working on his life of Chaucer, might ask for 20 to 50 documents a day.
Palgrave had hoped to remit fees to all historical searchers and wrote in 1843 that they came ‘from all professions and various conditions’, not only lawyers but others ‘searching for information for historical purposes, for evidence of title, or for matters connected with arts and manufactures’. Many of the latter were ‘common workmen’ whose searches were prosecuted ‘with great patience, intelligence, and perseverance’. It was perhaps fortunate that there were not more of them for the search room at Carlton Ride was only eleven feet by twelve and had to accommodate two clerks as well as up to five or six searchers at any one time.
At the end of 1843 the various repositories had a total of 78 staff of whom 48 were workmen, thirty-six of the latter being at Carlton Ride which had a total of 47 staff. There were 9 staff at the Rolls Chapel and 7 at Rolls House, 11 at the Tower and 4 at the Chapter House. Entry to the record service, where family relationships (as with the Watsons and Bradleys) were frequent, had long been dependent on patronage and influence but personal jealousies and animosities were rife and continued to be so until the end of the second half of the century in spite of the slow introduction of the new Civil Service examinations and internal requirements which laid stress on a knowledge of French and Latin as well as of palaeography. In addition to their salaries many officers derived considerable incomes from editorial and record agency work. For some years the two Hardy brothers supplemented their income by making transcripts for the historian Francis Palgrave and there was a long-running dispute about their rates of pay. In one altercation in 1832 the excitable and impulsive Thomas Hardy had knocked Palgrave down. When the latter, a strict disciplinarian, was appointed the first Deputy Keeper in 1838 he continued to meet considerable animosity from the staff and other officers and his relationship with the ever-attentive Lord Langdale was sometimes extremely poor. Langdale had wisely concluded that ‘men admirable for antiquarian learning if they have not early learnt to be men of business cannot (at a certain time of life) become such & no business or Office can prosper under their guidance’. If the Assistant Keepers took time to be equally attentive to the public their output in editorial work (and their income) was naturally decreased. Some of those who acted as record agents then sought to safeguard their income by discrediting the validity of the office copies.
The question of fees for historical research was further argued in 1851 when Palgrave said that the fees charged to lawyers were moderate and equitable but he considered it ‘almost an act of charity to discourage misguided persons, generally in humble circumstances, from pursuing imaginary claims to property or titles because such endeavours frequently led to insanity or beggary’. However, as the result of a campaign and petition organised by the Camden Society which gained the support of Sir John Romilly, the new Master of the Rolls, it was agreed that year that no fees should be payable by those engaged in making searches prior to 1760 for ‘strictly literary purposes’. Some twelve thousand documents were produced for public inspection in 1861 and the yearly total rose steadily to 52,000 at the end of the century, but then quickly to 95,000 in 1908 when the 1760 limit was moved on to 1800.
The 1838 Act had initially been interpreted to refer only to the records of the administrative, financial and judicial functions of the old Curia Regis or King’s Court - the Chancery, the Exchequer and the courts of common law and equity, together with those of Palatinate and other special jurisdictions - but in 1852 an Order in Council extended its scope to include the records in government departments, some of which at their own discretion were already depositing non-current administrative records. Francis Sheppard Thomas’s pioneering Handbook to the public records, though later described by Walford Selby as ‘heavy as suet pudding, and just as indigestible’, was published in 1853, and followed in 1856 by the more user-friendly general book by Richard Sims mentioned below. It should perhaps be noted that also in 1851 the Registrar General inquired about the need to keep the records of the 1841 and 1851 Census Returns and was told by Palgrave that they were ‘of great national importance and fit to be preserved’ and ‘will hereafter be invaluable for Historical and Legal purposes’. The Registrar General’s main concern at the time was to find the space, not only for the Census but also to store his birth, marriage and death registers, and he hoped that space for them might be found in the proposed new Records repository. Thomas Hardy, who had succeeded Palgrave as Deputy Keeper in 1861, would have taken in assize records and bishops’ transcripts of parish registers, though neither were mentioned in the 1838 Act. That did not stop the Duchy of Lancaster records from being presented by the Queen and acknowledged as a ‘gracious and priceless gift’.
Meanwhile there had been much argument as to the funding and possible location of the proposed new repository which was to provide safe and fireproof custody for an enormous and ever-growing array of material. The House of Commons had agreed back in 1846 that a new office should be built without delay. Some argued that it should be in Westminster, where the records would be more likely to stimulate public interest, but proposals to use the Victoria Tower or the roof space in the new Houses of Parliament, or that Westminster Prison be adapted and extended, found little favour other than with the Treasury, and the Treasury eventually agreed to expenditure on a new building to be sited on the Rolls Estate between Chancery Lane and Fetter Lane.
Work began there in November 1850 and the first, eastern, section of a massive mock-Tudor ‘Public Record Office’, designed by James Pennethorne in iron and stone with slate shelving, was completed in 1858 and became fully operational in 1860, having received its first deposits from the Chapter House, Carlton Ride and the Tower. As precautions against the possibility of fire the building was divided into a large number of separate rooms without central heating. There was no heating either in the old houses requisitioned in Chancery Lane and strengthened to take the records of the Admiralty and War Office.
Following the union of the State Paper Office and Public Record Office, Palgrave argued strongly for the resumption of publication by the PRO, believing that ‘a quiet hour spent by a student at his own desk was worth a day in any public library’, and in 1855 Mrs Mary Anne Everett Green (1818-1895), with the permission of her husband, was appointed the first external editor for work on the domestic state papers, she being paid ten or later eight guineas for each sheet of sixteen pages passed to the printer. From 1873 she was paid £200 a year plus £5 5s per printed sheet and she lived to complete some 41 volumes. Others appointed to do similar work but at different rates included Revd John Sherren Brewer (1810-1879) who was asked in 1856 to prepare a calendar of the vast series of Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII and spent the remainder of his life on the project. Brewer was also involved in the important Rolls Series of ‘Chronicles and Memorials of Great Britain and Ireland during the Middle Ages’ which had been launched by Sir John Romilly in 1858. The Series firmly established an academic tradition within the PRO but it should be noted that £3,000 was allowed annually for the small number of its part-time editors and a further £1,500 for those calendaring the State Papers, whereas a sum of £3,500 was expected to cover the annual wages of the service’s 55 workmen and seven charwomen.
Meanwhile all was far from honey and light for the readers. The original plan had envisaged thirty seats for them but it is doubtful that that number was ever reached, at least in the 1850s, in the separate rooms for literary and legal searchers. They were brought together into one room in 1858 and by 1860 the number of literary searchers was about 150 a year, each making about 15 visits. Walter Rye made his first dispiriting visit to the new Record Office in July 1864 (having been turned away from the British Museum by a change of rule because he was under twenty-one) and in May 1865 found that he was twice unable to get a seat after lunch, because only nine were now provided. A few of the older staff ‘who had been drafted in with the records, formed rather an eccentric group, some of them affecting the dress of an earlier generation’ and Rye remembered ‘a long unpleasant room, with low tables and high backless forms, which cramped the searcher’s legs if he were anything above a dwarf in stature’. Some of the assistant keepers, notably Joseph Hunter and Henry James Sharpe, undoubtedly saw themselves as a select band of qualified professionals and had little patience with readers such as those working on their pedigrees whom they regarded as mere amateurs, the literary use of the records being in their view entirely subordinate to the legal, but others, who had themselves been record agents possessed a general knowledge of the records which later keepers found hard to acquire. Hunter himself wrote to Palgrave in 1853 about Americans ‘entertaining it is well known extravagant notions of obstructed rights to property and even hereditary honours in England’ and he had a very low opinion of the agents, like the unstable William Henry Hart and the American Horatio Gates Somerby (both mentioned below), who acted for them and might masquerade as literary searchers in order to avoid fees. However, that local and family history, biography and genealogy formed an important part of the work of the literary searchers was revealed in Hardy’s second Report as Deputy Keeper in 1862 with its summary of work undertaken since fees were lifted in 1852. In those years a total of 1,081 literary searchers had made 13,123 searches and consulted 104,746 documents.
Domesday Book had remained at the Chapter House until brought over to the new repository in July 1859. Shortly afterwards the book’s section on Cornwall was reproduced by the Ordnance Survey at Southampton by Sir Henry James’s new photozincographic process, the copying of the whole book being completed in 1864 when a series of Facsimiles of National Manuscripts was commenced at the suggestion of Prime Minister Gladstone and continued until 1885.
Restrictions on funding meant that the two main public search rooms planned for the eastern end of the building by Pennethorne in the 1850s were not completed until 1869. These rooms remained familiar to searchers for a century: the impressive ‘Round room’ (or Literary Search Room) which rose through the height of the building and was top-lit by a glass roof, and the ‘Long Room’ (or Legal Search Room) facing Fetter Lane. Rye was not the only one to find the Round Room ‘a veritable rheumatism trap in winter’ but search fees, as long desired by Thomas Hardy and John Brewer, were now abolished and a lady recruited to superintend the ladies’ cloakroom. These improvement owed much to Lord Romilly, who had been raised to the peerage in 1865, but accommodation for the records remained critical and in 1877 the large first-floor copying room above the Long Room was converted to receive the rolls of Chancery, it retaining its new name of ‘Rolls Room’ when again converted into another room for searchers in 1961. A small refreshment room for the staff was opened in the basement in 1867.
Fourteen workmen were on duty to bring documents to the searchers from the 103 record rooms. The latter were fifteen feet high and divided by galleries reached by iron staircases. Each room had two high windows designed to throw light into both divisions and twenty-five feet down the passages between the records. However, by the early afternoon on cloudy or foggy days the work of production, even when aided with lanterns was often extremely difficult if not impossible. There was gas lighting at intervals in the corridors (sufficient, it was said, to play cards by) but none in the small slip-rooms on each floor in which the men were based, numbering, flattening, stamping and packing documents for use. Consequently work in the dark and chilly repository was far from popular. There was, of course, no lighting in the search rooms but the keepers and clerks used oil lamps in the winter as well as candles, though the latter were forbidden in 1876. The installation of electricity in 1889 was, as Rye said, a vast improvement.
The Historical Mauscripts Commission was established in 1869, owing much to the work of Hardy (who was knighted that year) and Romilly, and was given space in Rolls House, its inspectors being paid two guineas a day plus travelling expenses. One of the latter was Alfred Horwood (1821-1881), Hardy’s son-in-law, who was also an active editor. In 1870 The Earl Cawdor placed in the Commission’s care the four volumes of the early eighteenth century Golden Grove Book of (Welsh) Pedigrees and this was passed to the Record Office.
In one quarter in 1874 a troublesome individual applied to see 46,360 Treasury papers. There were always critics and one, the combative and litigious John Pym Yeatman (1830-1910), a disappointed barrister, proved particularly unpleasant. Both in his Introduction to the study of early English history (1874) and in a pamphlet An exposure of the mismanagement of the Public Record Office (1875) he criticised the editorial system by which public money was distributed ‘amongst a party of clergymen and ladies who amuse themselves at the Record Office’ and referred to the Oxford school of historians (the followers of Freeman and Stubbs, later despised by Horace Round) as fastening ‘on to the sugar cask of the Record Office like wasps and flies’, deploring the enormous disparity between the small salaries of the workmen and the payments and ‘hereditary corruption’ of the editors, comparing Thomas Hardy in particular to the covetous John Caley and complaining about the general inadequacy of the calendars, the delays in document production and the poor facilities for searchers. In all of which there were, of course, quite large elements of truth. Yeatman’s unpleasant tirade was completely ignored but he then took a request for access to land tax material as far as the Court of Appeal and was firmly told that nobody had a general right of access to records in the PRO, all searches being subject to such rules as the Master of the Rolls might impose. In contrast he had found remarkable ease of access to many records in New York. Yeatman was later a critic of the Victoria County History and although twice declared bankrupt he found time and money to compile a vast Feudal history of the county of Derby (10 vols. 1886-1912).
Another issue which had become increasingly contentious was that of the disposal of documents considered valueless, some already in the PRO but others being passed to it in growing numbers by government departments as if the PRO were an extension of the departments themselves. By an Act of Parliament in 1877 the Master of the Rolls was given new powers to dispose of any such material created after 1715 (a date moved back to 1660 in 1898), but the departments had to make sure that their schedules of papers to be destroyed did not include anything ‘of legal, historical, genealogical or antiquarian use or interest, or which give any important information not to be obtained elsewhere’. Disposal meant destruction unless the Master of the Rolls decided that the documents should be handed to a library. There was little opposition in Parliament but the chapter of the College of Arms had passed a resolution of protest against the Bill’s proposed new powers. The resulting system whereby destruction schedules were first compiled by the departments, examined by a Committee of Inspecting Officers, laid before Parliament, and then put into action by the departments, continued until 1958 when it was considered hopelessly inadequate, the application of the important historical criteria having been left to persons appointed in the departments themselves.
Apart from the 1877 Act little of moment had occurred during the last ten years and when Sir Thomas Hardy died in June 1878, his brother William Hardy, though already aged seventy-one, was appointed Deputy Keeper in his place. The latter, ‘a man of lesser energy and talent’, had carried on a lucrative practice as a record agent whilst keeper of the duchy of Lancaster records but had done no work of note there. Yeatman would not have been pleased when Hardy’s young son, William John Hardy (died 1919), already undertaking private work, was found a place at the Record Office in 1879, but he fortunately resigned in 1885 after the Treasury had become concerned. The Master of the Rolls moved from the Rolls House to the new Law Courts in the Strand in 1882 and from that date his authority as head of the PRO began to decline.
An officer who had entered the service in 1867 and made a mark assisting the public in the Literary Room was formally recognised as its superintendent in 1882. This was the popular and much respected Walford Daking Selby (1845-1889), a friend of Walter Rye and Horace Round, who with James Greenstreet founded the Pipe Roll Society in 1883 and was editor of The Genealogist from 1884 to 1889. However, Selby shot himself in a bout of depression after being seriously ill with typhoid fever brought on, Edward Walford said, by the insanitary conditions in his room off the Round Room. Many complained of the unlit and draughty search rooms, there was an unpleasant down draught from the dome of the Round Room through which rain occasionally came, and noise from the heavy traffic and black smoke from the printers’ chimneys in Fetter Lane was a growing problem, as indeed was the smell of manure and the yelling of boys from the neighbouring London Parcels Delivery Company on the Office’s north side. Two other assistant keepers who came into prominence at this time were Hubert Hall (1857-1944), of whom below, and Charles Trice Martin (1841-1914) the compiler of the indispensable Record Interpreter (1898, 1910).
The showing of Domesday Book to a party of fourteen girls from a Board School in 1882 did not find favour with William Hardy and some must have wondered why he was knighted in 1883, for his reports (as the Royal Commission in 1912 noted) were ‘meagre and uninteresting’. He resigned in 1886 and one of those who had earlier complained about the conditions in the search rooms, Henry Maxwell Lyte (1848-1940), was appointed to succeed him. Lyte had no previous experience in the administration of the Office. He was thirty-seven (all the assistant keepers had been in office since before he was born) and the first graduate to enter the PRO’s service, having recently been an inspector for the Historical Manuscripts Commission and written histories of Eton College and of pre-1530 Oxford University. However, he quickly showed considerable administrative ability and, after William Hardy’s laxness, was an autocrat where staff discipline was concerned. His interests included genealogy and his appointment marked a clear watershed in the Office’s development. As Geoffrey Martin said in 1988 he gave it, ‘a character and sense of purpose that lasted into our own time, and is by no means yet a spent force’. A practical man who wanted to promote the scholarly use of the records Lyte drove forward the work of their classification and arrangement. He had electric lighting installed in the three search rooms in 1889 and later the Office’s first lift next to the Round Room, but his prohibition of the use of ink (in which he was supported by the College of Arms) caused much protest. Amongst the many complainants was a regular visitor, the genealogist and author Theophilus Charles Noble (1840-1890) who in 1886 had published the list of subscribers towards the defence of the country at the time of the Spanish Armada. The Long Room had in 1885-86 become quite crowded with solicitors and those seeking unclaimed money in Chancery and as a result fees for searches in legal documents after 1760 were re-introduced (1s for a legal document and 2s 6d for a search for a particular suit).
A group from the Library Association was welcomed in 1886 and Lyte was amongst those who organised the celebrations for the Domesday anniversary that year when some 300 visitors came to hear Hubert Hall speak about Domesday Book from the gallery of the Round Room. In 1887 the Office put on an Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition. The old and indigestible PRO Handbook (1853) by Thomas was replaced with a new Guide (3 editions, 1891-1908) by Samuel Robert Scargill-Bird (1847-1923) which remained the standard work until the more user-friendly two volume Guide (1923-24) by Montague Giuseppi who was in charge of the Search Department. By 1892 some forty to fifty people were using the search rooms daily and the number of documents produed had increased to 42,000 annually. However, although the 1888 Local Government Act had created the possibility of a co-ordinated approach to local records, Lyte and the Master of the Rolls, Lord Esher, were strongly opposed to the idea, having enough to deal with in terms of the growing deposit of departmental records and the official searches which had to be made therein.
In 1891 the inspecting officers intervened to save the muster rolls and crew lists of merchant seamen which might otherwise have been destroyed and they joined with the Registrar General in opposing the destruction of the 1851 and 1861 census returns which were then in the Clock Tower of the Houses of Parliament, but lack of space was partly responsible for the destruction in 1897 of the marked-up electoral poll books, 1843-70, in the Lord Chancellor’s Office. The port books for London, 1696-1795, important for economic historians, were also destroyed as a result of the schedules agreed in 1896 and 1899. However, it was the Board of Trade in 1900 which irregularly ordered the destruction of the outward and many of the inward passenger lists prior to 1890 and was soundly rebuked by the Master of the Rolls in 1917 for doing so.
The old Rolls Series was abandoned after the publication of Hubert Hall’s controversial edition of The red book of the Exchequer (3 vols. 1896-97) and the Office’s publishing resources were concentrated on improving the finding aids, commencing in 1891 with calendars of the patent rolls, followed by the close rolls (with an external editor) in 1892, the inquisitions post mortem (edited by a skilled genealogist Anthony St John Story-Maskelyne) in 1898, and other major series. By 1899 some 72 calendars had appeared. To complement these a new series of ‘Lists and Indexes’, designed mainly to assist those in the search rooms, was initiated with an index of ancient petitions in 1892.
The PRO staff remained almost totally a male preserve, the only women being the part-time cleaners and the ladies’ attendant, though the editor Mrs Green had been succeeded by her niece, Mrs Sophia Crawford Lomas (died 1929). By 1900 a typewriter was being used for outgoing correspondence, other typing being sent to the Civil Service Commission. Of the searchers, however, many more (as discussed below) were now women and the US Government Despatch Agency and the Canadian record authorities employed a number of women in London for work on the American Loyalists’ and other papers.
Maxwell Lyte’s interest in the PRO’s publications and its staffing was coupled with a desire to increase the office accommodation and preparations went ahead to demolish the twenty rickety eighteenth century houses which surrounded Rolls Yard at the west end of the Rolls Estate and fronted Chancery Lane. They were used for storage and offices but two had resident staff; all were fire risks, access often needing candles or a lamp. After protracted negotiations the houses were demolished in 1891, some 124 van-loads of records being temporarily moved to the late Barge Dock at Somerset House, and the block now facing Chancery Lane with a tower over its gateway was built in 1892-95. The new offices had electric lighting and were a vast improvement and Maxwell Lyte was knighted at the Jubilee in 1897. However, the proposed destruction of the old Rolls Chapel and the Rolls House which now stood between the new block and the original Pennethorne block raised considerable opposition and did not take place until 1899-1900 when the latter block was extended westward and the Rolls Chapel replaced by a museum with a wide variety of records in a permanent display that incorporated the Chapel’s monuments. Twenty-seven large sacks of documents were found above the Chapel’s vaulting.
Power to present unwanted or duplicate material to other repositories had been given in the 1877 Act but it was not until 1890 that rules for the administration of the Act were drawn up whereby such material might be presented to libraries in Great Britain or Ireland. By an Order of Council in 1908 certain colonial office documents could also be transferred to those colonial governments interested in their contents. By 1912 only eight such transfers had taken place and the Royal Commission that year thought that much more could have been done ‘with advantage to local students’. However, the PRO’s policy remained largely unchanged until the Act in 1958.
The genealogist George Sherwood, commenting on the Deputy Keeper’s Annual Report in 1909, paid tribute to the courtesy of the staff but worried about these new powers to transmit records to the relevant colonies and the ‘weeding-out’ of unwanted material which he thought should be roughly sorted and dispersed to the free libraries around the country. He believed that all public records over a hundred years old should be transferred to the Office but he noted that the handling of records there was ‘tending to become a less dusty affair altogether’.
Many State Papers had remained in private hands and in the eighteenth century large collections of these had found their way into the British Museum. Here, as at the Public Record Office, admission was obtained by making written application, ‘stating the name, rank in life, and residence of the applicant’, and the request had to be accompanied by a recommendation from some gentleman ‘whose position in society, reputation, or public appointment, may serve as a guarantee of the respectability of the applicant’. When Richard Sims wrote this in 1856 the wonderful new Reading Room was springing up ‘as if by magic’ in the Museum’s quadrangle and the great Antonio Panizzi (1797-1879), who had designed it to seat 500 readers, was the Principal Librarian. When, in the 1870s, the young Kate Norgate (1853-1935), the daughter of a Norwich bookseller, was inspired by John Richard Green’s Short History of the English People (1874) to try her hand at writing history, her mother is said to have accompanied her to the British Museum to chaperon and sit by her in the Reading Room.
In the nineteenth century genealogists came together only through the pages of the many periodicals that flourished and it was through them, Horace Round thought, that John Gough Nichols (1806-1873) first founded the modern critical and historical school of genealogy.
John Gough Nichols’s interests and influences stemmed directly from his grandfather John Nichols (1745-1826) the industrious proprietor and editor of the Gentleman’s Magazine and the author or editor of some sixty biographical, literary and historical works, including a noted History and antiquities of the county of Leicester (4 vols. 1795-1815). John Nichols’s son, John Bowyer Nichols (1779-1863), continued his father’s work and published practically all the great county histories of his day including Lipscomb’s Buckinghamshire, Ormerod’s Cheshire, Surtees’ Durham, Raine’s North Durham, Clutterbuck’s Hertfordshire, Baker’s Northamptonshire, Hoare’s Wiltshire, Hunter’s South Yorkshire and Whitaker’s Whalley and Craven.
John Gough Nichols (1806-1873), the son of John Bowyer Nichols, had followed his grandfather as joint editor of the Gentleman’s Magazine and was sole editor 1851-56, contributing as his grandfather had done many papers on genealogical and heraldic topics and adding the detailed obituary notices. George Sherwood later wrote that this and other popular magazines of the period were to be found on the tables of every coffee room and club and that the ‘victualing’ fraternity was strongly represented in their pages. In 1834 J. G. Nichols branched out to edit and publish a separate periodical at £1 per indexed volume, Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica (8 vols. 1834-43), containing documentary material and some pedigrees. After a short break he continued with a similar The Topographer and Genealogist (3 vols. 1846-58) and then, when the Gentleman’s Magazine stopped publishing antiquarian material, he produced The Herald and Genealogist (8 vols. 1863-74), again on similar lines but containing also book reviews and critical essays. The Hertfordshire historian John Edwin Cussans described the influential Nichols (whose quotation for the printing of his history he had rejected as ‘absurdly extravagant’) ‘as narrow minded as he was strong, and as vindictive as he was bigoted, he was feared by some, hated by others, and respected by none … the very embodiment, the acme, the apotheosis of meanness, in great and little matters alike’.
In 1866, Dr Joseph Jackson Howard (1827-1902), of Mayfield, Blackheath, who had worked in the Postmaster General’s Department and was a pioneer of the Civil Service Co-operative Stores, founding the Civil Service Supply Association, started a quarterly journal, Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica, which was very similar in content to John Gough Nichols’s first two periodicals but slightly larger in format, with many nicely printed pedigrees and heraldic engravings, in the quality of which he was particularly interested. It was two shillings and sixpence an issue and so successful that, after the demise of The Herald and Genealogist and adding occasional critical articles and reviews, he produced it for a shilling and then in a New Series for six pence. His journal, affectionately known as ‘Misc Gen’ and edited by him until his death in 1902, reverted to quarterly publication in 1894 and continued until 1938.
Between 1887 and 1895 Joseph Howard had also printed six large and fully annotated pedigrees illustrating the History of Roman Catholic Families in England, but he is perhaps better known for his collaboration with the wealthy genealogical enthusiast Frederick Arthur Crisp (1851-1922) and the latter’s private printing press, the Grove Park Press, in a beautifully produced series of twenty-one volumes of tabular pedigrees, A Visitation of England and Wales (1893-1921) with fourteen additional volumes of Notes, and A Visitation of Ireland in six further volumes (1897-1918).
Also following the demise of The Herald and Genealogist in 1874, George William Marshal started in 1877 another very similar periodical, The Genealogist, which also survived the First World War and continued production until 1922, receiving important critical contributions from Horace Round and the best genealogists of the time. These periodicals together set high standards in the pedigrees published which, largely because of economic reasons, have not been seen again in English genealogical periodicals though the tradition continues in the United States of America.
Yet another periodical, Collectanea Genealogica et Heraldica, was started in 1881 by the hard-working genealogist and transcriber Joseph Foster (1844-1905), the son of a woollen draper at Bishop Wearmouth and the grandson of the founder of a large London bottling firm, M. B. Foster & Sons, who was also interested in genealogy. His periodical (128 pages monthly for three guineas a year) was intended to provide ‘handy working indices for the genealogist’ and he began to print annotated instalments of indexes to the marriages in the Gentleman’s Magazine, to Musgrave’s Obituary and to other works, as well as providing with the help of Horace Round, as the Dictionary of National Biography says, ‘much trenchant criticism and exposure of current genealogical myths’. Unfortunately, although enthusiastically reviewed his work received little public support and with the labour involved in this and his other projects the periodical became irregular and ceased publication in 1888, many of the projected indexes sadly not being completed.
Joseph Foster, in collaboration with Edward Bellasis (1852-1922), Bluemantle and then Lancaster Herald, had in 1879 produced a remarkable Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, aiming at a greater level of accuracy than achieved by Burke, and they completed four extremely fine editions to 1883, the work being subsequently amalgamated with Lodge’s Peerage which George Burnett had considered ‘the best and most trustworthy’ of the older peerages. Foster’s Peerage, which the Morning Post described as ‘a virtual impeachment of other authorities’, was noteworthy for its stringent attitude to those who had assumed baronetcies (who were mercilessly relegated to a section boldly called ‘Chaos’) and for its lively heraldic designs by John Forbes Nixon and Dom Anselm Baker of Mount Saint Bernard Abbey. Anthony Wagner thought that Foster ‘deserved more credit than he has had for his industry and his concern to get at the truth’. He had projected a series of Pedigrees of the County Families of England but only saw those for Lancashire (1873) and Yorkshire (3 vols. 1874) in print. He had transcribed with ‘heroic labour’, as the Dictionary of National Biography says, the registers of admissions to the various Inns of Court and the Clergy Institution Books 1556-1838, and he had edited for publication Joseph Chester’s copy of the matriculation registers of Oxford University 1500-1886 and the latter’s extensive extracts of London marriage licences 1521-1869.
In April 1897 the Morning Post announced the forthcoming appearance in May of a monthly journal priced at a shilling and edited by the controversial Arthur Fox-Davies (mentioned below) for the publisher Elliot Stock: The Genealogical Magazine: a journal of family history, heraldry and pedigrees. The Derby Mercury said that it attempted, ‘to combine interesting family histories with the accurate and detailed eviencies which are the real value of genealogical writers’, having lengthy contemporary extracts from the London Gazette. The first issue even contained one article by Fox-Davies’ later adversary Horace Round. It completed eight volumes, but closed in 1904 after a series of controversial articles on corporate heraldry that moved Round to fierce ridicule.
The short-lived quarterly The Ancestor, published in twelve lordly volumes 1902-5, had the sub-title A quarterly review of county and family history, heraldry and antiquities and for a while it eclipsed all the others in production, illustration and content, each issue having 300 pages and being cloth-bound for five shillings. It had the wealthy genealogist Herbert ‘Arthur’ Doubleday (1867-1941) as its printer and Arthur ‘Oswald’ Barron (1868-1939), Evening News journalist and medieval scholar, as its editor, but was discontinued in 1905 when Doubleday left the printing firm, Archibald Constable & Co, which he had helped to create. Doubleday was then enlisted by G. L. (later Sir Laurence) Gomme, clerk to London County Council, who had conceived as a memorial to Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee the idea of the Victoria History of the Counties of England, and was its chief editor for the first ten volumes, 1901-3, when he was succeeded by his joint-editor, William Page (died 1934), who carried it forward in the face of great difficulties for the next thirty years. Doubleday, having founded the St Catherine Press in 1908, then played a major role in the fund-raising and production of the new edition of The Complete Peerage initially edited by Vicary Gibbs (1853-1932) and printed and published by the Press, Doubleday becoming its assistant editor in 1916 and editor from 1920 until his death in 1941.
Practitioners of ‘New Genealogy’
Whilst paying tribute to the editors of the various periodicals in the development of critical genealogy, Round had drawn particular attention to the Shropshire antiquary Robert William Eyton (1815-1881) and to the retired Major-General the Hon. George Wrottesley (1827-1909) for their contributions to the field. Eyton’s work for his Antiquities of Shropshire (1853-61) had a particular appeal to Round ‘in its single-minded concentration – in a style some found repulsively dry – on the genealogies, properties, and public lives of the feudal landowners’ between 1066 and 1327. Sir William Hardy, Deputy Keeper, thought his work placed Eyton far ahead of ‘all our County Historians ancient or modern’ and the Dictionary of National Biography says that ‘his memoirs of the families of Le Strange, Mortimer, and De Lacy, in which nothing is admitted without strict proof, placed him at the head of contemporary genealogists’. His other works, partly in conjunction with Wrottesley, all related to the same early period. The pair founded the William Salt Society in 1879 and Wrottesley as Secretary of that Society contributed vastly to its thirty-four volumes of Staffordshire Collections. Round thought Wrottesley’s critical sense more developed than that of Eyton in that he placed truth foremost and the Dictionary of National Biography says of his four published family histories (Giffard, Wrottesley, Okeover and Bagot) that they ‘had, too, that other virtue of the new school, the power of tacking on public history to private events in such a way as to give to the narration its reality and significance’. His invaluable abstracts of Pedigrees from the Plea Rolls, 1200-1500 (1906) were laboriously extracted at the Record Office between 1880 and 1904. Round called Major-General Wrottesley the ‘Nestor of genealogists’, presumably meaning, as the Oxford Classical Dictionary says of Nestor in the Iliad, that he was ‘fond of long narratives of his early successes in war’ and/or ‘full of advice generally either platitudinous or unsuccessful’!
When William Page wrote in 1930 of Horace Round’s contributions to the new critical school of genealogy, he recalled the situation in the late 1870s and 1880s when Round first began to use the Public Record Office regularly. Page said that in the 1880s the searchers in the Literary Search or Round Room at the Public Record Office were mainly genealogists, the regular visitors including George Wrottesley, James Greenstreet and John Vincent. Those historians with wider interest made only occasional visits.
James Harris Greenstreet (1846-1891) was born in Brixton the son of a traveller in the wine trade and started life as a clerk in an insurance office but by 1881 when living at Camberwell was describing himself as a record agent. In 1883 he helped Walford Selby to form the Pipe Roll Society. In 1888 at Catford he was recommended by Walter Rye and by 1891 when at Lewisham was a literary agent. He wrote a number of articles for Archaeologia Cantiana, was editor of the The Lincolnshire Survey (1884) and author of Memorials of the ancient Kent family of Greenstreet (1891). He did not marry until 1887 and had no children. At his early death in 1891 he left only £290.
John Amyatt Chaundy Vincent (1826-1905) was born at Barrackpore in Bengal, the son of a Lieutenant-Colonel in the East India Company Service who died at Bath in 1865 with an estate ‘Under £200’. Lodging with working families in Bloomsbury, John Vincent published Notes on the Elton Family in 1861 but was described as an architect and fundholder in the 1861 census, an annuitant in 1871, an antiquary in 1881, an historical antiquary in 1891, and a record searcher on his own account in 1901. With an office at 61 Lincoln’s Inn Fields he was listed as one of the best-known record agents by Walter Rye in 1897. At his death in 1905 his effects were valued at £366-10-5. His diaries from 1861 to 1871 are in Wigan Archives and show a later focus on genealogy and from 1873 he was transcribing deeds at the Public Record Office.
The record agents who had taken over the work of officials who in earlier times had prepared the evidence for legal cases, were found next door in the Legal Search or Long Room. Amongst this group William Page mentions Stuart Archibald Moore (1842-1907), formerly the secretary to Sir Thomas Duffus Hardy, who acted as a record agent. He was also a proficient yachtsman and rather late in life was called to the bar and gained distinction as an authority on the law relating to fisheries and the foreshore. He was highly successful in promoting claims against the crown by the lords of those manors bounded by the sea, writing the standard History of the Foreshore (1888).
Moore’s partner, Richard Edward Gent Kirk (1844-1908), had earlier been an assistant to Revd John Sherren Brewer in his work on the letters and papers of Henry VIII. Richard Kirk, had been born in the Tower of London where his father, also called Richard Kirk (died 1866), had been a messenger in the Record Office at least since his marriage in 1842. Richard Kirk and his wife Sarah (nee Gent) were given the place and house of caretaker at the Office in March 1843 but four years later ‘Mrs Kirk was discovered using Lucifer matches to light the office fires in contravention of strict orders’. She resigned in order to avoid dismissal but he continued as a Messenger, living in Islington. Their son Richard E. G. Kirk was also a Messenger in the Record Office, aged 17 in 1861, but later worked as a record agent on his own account with an office at 27 Chancery Lane, being recommended by Walter Rye in 1888 and 1897. He and his son, Ernest Frederick Kirk (c.1880-1956), also a record agent, edited the four volumes of Returns of Aliens in … London, 1523-1625 (1900-8) for the Huguenot Society. He was an early member of the Society of Genealogists and as an agent was still supporting his disgraced grandmother, aged 90, at Upper Tooting in 1911, but he had resigned his membership by 1919.
Two other record agents mentioned by Page and recommended by Walter Rye were the solicitors Henry Gay Hewlett (1832-1897), keeper of the Land Revenue Records, who undertook searches for the Crown, and his son Maurice Henry Hewlett (1861-1923) who practised at 2 Raymond Buildings in partnership with his cousin, William Oxenham Hewlett (1845-1912), the author of a work on Scottish peerage law and an editor for the Historical Manuscripts Commission who also transcribed the early parish registers of Harrow, and was later a master in chancery. Maurice Henry Hewlett succeeded his father as Keeper of Land Revenue Records but quickly abandoned record searching to become a poet and essayist, best known perhaps for his The Song of the Plow. His resignation in 1901 was followed by the absorbtion of his Land Revenue work and its records into the Public Record Office.
William Page (1861-1934) was himself the son of a merchant and had been articled to a civil engineer before taking up a post in Australia, but he returned to England in 1884 to find that his eldest sister Margaret was ‘going with’ the above-named record agent and antiquary William John Hardy after his brief time at the PRO. Page joined him as a record agent and, when Hardy married in 1886 they went into partnership as Hardy & Page with an office in Lincoln’s Inn. Walter Rye thought them (with the Hewletts and William Phillimore) ‘as au fait at fighting a “record” case as getting the material together’. The range of inquiry received by the partners was almost unlimited, Page developed an expert knowledge of the records and the partners received much commissioned work, including calendaring and editing from the Historical Manuscripts Commission and various record societies. Page was drawn into the work of the Victoria County History by Horace Round and in 1902 was appointed its general editor, withdrawing from the partnership, but Hardy continued as a record agent until his death in 1919. He and his son, Colonel William Le Hardy, appointed in 1946 the first County Archivist for Hertfordshire, dominated research and publishing in the county for many years.
Genealogy and the Public Record Office have always attracted a share of eccentrics and the other searchers who favoured the Long Room in the 1880s, according to Page, included ‘two strange Welsh gentlemen who periodically retired to worship on the Welsh mountains and returned in unsavoury sheepskins’. They may be the ‘unsavoury and unclean persons’ about whom there had been complaints in 1881 when a hall porter was recruited to control admittance to the search rooms. The chief of the eccentrics was undoubtedly General Plantagenet Harrison (1817-1890) of the Peruvian Army, ‘a giant, wearing a cowboy hat’. This extraordinary man, who claimed ‘against many impediments’ to be Earl of Lancaster, was called the ‘prince of genealogical cranks’ by Aleyn Lyell Reade (the authority on Samuel Johnson) who had heard all about him from his correspondent William Paley Baildon (1859-1924) in London and he was described by Walter Rye as ‘a pedigree forger of the worst and most unscrupulous type’.
Plantagenet Harrison later often used the name James Phillippe but he was born at Whashton and baptised George Henry Harrison at Kirby Ravensworth in Yorkshire, one of several children of Marley Harrison (died 1822) and Margaret his wife, nee Hutchinson. Harrison had taken an early interest in his ancestry and in November 1843 whilst in the Mexican province of Yucatan as a ‘General officer’, had assumed the names ‘De Strabolgie Neville Plantagenet’ claiming to be the direct representative of those families and descended from Elizabeth the sister of Henry IV. He claimed the descent through Margaret a daughter of Charles (Nevill), 6th Earl of Westmoreland (died 1584), who married Sir Nicholas Pudsey, but George Frederick Beltz in his Memorials of the Most Noble Order of the Garter (1841) had already noted that Margaret and Nicholas did not appear to have had children. The descent was considered at some length and rejected by the Marquis de Ruvigny in his Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal (1905-11)  and noted by The Complete Peerage (1959) with the same conclusion. Harrison almost certainly had no such descent, but in 1858 he petitioned the House of Lords for a summons to the House of Lords as Duke of Lancaster and published a Petition to the House of Lords touching the Duchy of Lancaster and the Forfeited Estates (1858) which was completely ignored. He told the Court of Bankruptcy that year that he was ‘de jure sovereign of these realms, but the Act of Settlement barred his claim’. The fact that he had an elder brother, Francis Harrison (1811-1894), a solicitor in Gray’s Inn and later at Great Sampford in Essex and Bristol who survived him, he dismissed with a comment to Paley Baildon that ‘he was a damned fool!’ Sadly his published pedigrees often show as little regard for the facts.
Harrison, who had never been in the British army, travelled extensively in South and North America, sometimes with local military appointments amongst the groups of wild gaucho horsemen, but apparently often relying on gambling, plunder and fraud for his income, taking his chances in the unrest of the times. In that he was assisted by his unusual height, a uniform heavy with gold braid and his display of the adopted Orders of the Garter and of St George. He was by his own highly coloured and exaggerated account with Abd-el-Kader against the French in Algeria and with Emir Becker in Syria before going to Yucatan and fighting against the Mexican Federal Government in 1843 as General of Brigade. In Guatemala in 1844 he fought against the Indians before going to Peru, where in July 1844 he helped to defend Lima. Later that year he was in Uruguay and, entering Corrientes, was in January 1845 made Grand Marshall of the Army of Liberty in the Argentine Republic. As a delegate from Corrientes to Brazil he was expelled and went from there in June 1846 to the Domincan Republic, was again expelled and went to Venezuela, but was again expelled and after trying to persuade Hayti to invade Dominica in November, he returned to England. That, at least, is the outline of an account he gave in his pedigree published about 1848-50 but little of the detail can be taken seriously.
In London in July 1847 he carried out a vicious attack on Major Richard Leslie Dundas (a friend of William Downing Bruce the genealogist mentioned below) who brought an action for assault in the Queen’s Bench in February 1848 which resulted in Harrison being sentenced to imprisonment for six months, but he jumped bail and went abroad; he was then ‘stated to hold the rank of Brigadier-General in the Mexican army’. In February 1849 the Morning Post, describing him as General of Cavalry, said that he had arrived on the French frontier on route for Madrid and in May 1849 the London Daily News recounted his frauds there, but later that month published a letter from him at Gibraltar denying the account and saying that he had been in Denmark in July 1848 with the Danish Cavalry. He said then that as Prince of Plantagenet he had a ‘lineage more illustrious than that of any other prince in Christendom’, but he was later obliged to admit that he held no formal commission in the Danish army. According to later accounts he was imprisoned in Gibraltar for ten months for debt and in April 1850 the newspapers were saying that the walls of Gibraltar were covered with placards in which he challenged to fight in single combat three Spanish generals and the English consul at Cadiz, but ‘in such gross and insulting language that we refrain from publishing it’.
Back in London in 1850 he was apparently excluded from the Library at the British Museum by Sir Henry Ellis because he applied as ‘Duke of Lancaster’ but in February 1851 it was reported from Berlin that he had been brought prisoner there for alleged frauds at Stralsund in 1848, having been arrested near Altona. Whatever the truth of this he was certainly arrested in London on 24 December 1851 and returned to the Queen’s Bench Prison to serve his original term, though he immediately unsuccessfully petitioned for discharge.
Following his release he was imprisoned as an insolvent debtor, July-September 1852, following a fraud with guns bought in August 1847 and pawned the next day. In court he recounted his early travels in America and Europe but he was now ‘of no employ or occupation’. His only assets were £3,000 said to be owed to him as ambassador to Brazil from the Republic of Corrientes. He claimed to have been appointed a Lieutenant-General in the army of the Germanic Confederation by Archduke John but only ‘in time of war’ and he attributed his present insolvency to the peaceful state of Europe. He had received about £2,000 in military pay in the years 1843-4 and had after 1847 received about £1,200 from friends, winning at play another £1,300. It was ordered that he be discharged after he had been in custody at the suit of any of the creditors for three months, and at the suit of one of them for eight months from the vesting order.
In September 1853 it was reported that Harrison was at Constantinople offering his services to the Turks and in May 1854 (just after the Crimean War had broken out) he denied from London any knowledge of conspiracies against Turkey. At Hull in June 1855, having been apprehended on board a steamer at Grimsby about to depart for Hamburg, he was unsuccessfully charged with defrauding three banks. Described as ‘a fashionably-dressed, moustachioed and bearded Englishman’, his luggage and uniform were said to be ‘worth nearly £2,000’. He told the local newspaper that he was ‘entitled to seven millions of money, left to him, which he will shortly receive’.
In November 1857 he was arrested for debt whilst at Marylebone Police Court on another matter and although surrounded by many people whom he had cheated he, being a crown witness, was discharged. In February 1858 he was charged with assaulting two waiters at the Hotel de Paris, Haymarket, and fined 20s. On this occasion the money was paid. In July 1858, in a case of property fraud, Meek v. Carter, he was described as ‘a mere adventurer’.
In October-December 1858 he was again before the Insolvent Debtors’ Court ‘late a General Officer, now out of employment’, in prison and asking to be discharged. He claimed that his insolvency was due to the British Ambassador at Constantinople and Lord Palmerston on behalf of the Government not allowing him to serve in the Turkish army after his offer of service had been accepted by the Sultan and to his subsequent losses and imprisonment by the Prussian government. He had debts of £8,075 (for furniture, wine, fishing tackle, rent of a house for three servants, etc) of which £3,833 was without consideration. He said that his pay in the South American army had been plunder, his share being £150,000 in cattle, horses, etc. Counsel for the complainants said that after two previous insolvencies and a bankruptcy the incurring of debts without expectation of payment was fraud. The case was adjourned to complete further services upon his creditors. The lengthy notice in the London Gazette said that prior to being at Stralsund he had had offices in the Levant House, London, endeavouring to establish a mercantile and banking house in the name Skioldunger, Harrison & Company. He had later been a genealogist at 14 Clement’s Inn and among the items on his balance sheet was, ‘Received for making out Mr Wright’s pedigree 10 bonds of £1,000 each, the loss by sale of which was £9,750.’
In August and September 1859 he placed a succession of advertisements in the Morning Post for a work The Golden Book of Westminster which he said would be ‘a correct history of the lineage of the various dynasties of the sovereigns of England, Scotland, &c, and of the ancient and modern nobility and gentry, with a description of the personal appearance of the present representative thereof, with his (the General’s) opinion as to the probability of each individual being descended of the blood he professes to represent. Also, a list of all gentleman of blood entitled to bear coat armour, together with a list of such individuals as profess to be gentlemen, and who bear coat armour without being entitled thereto’, adding ‘Pedigrees compiled and published’. The book, which seems to have been an exercise in mass blackmail, did not appear.
In 1861 as ‘George Henry Harrison’ he was staying at the Great Western Hotel, Paddington, unmarried, aged 43, ‘gentleman’, but he apparently married shortly thereafter and by a wife Maria had a daughter Blanche Plantagenet Harrison who was born in April 1863 and baptised at St Pancras in July 1864. In April 1862 he had placed an advertisement in the Morning Post saying that he was ‘in want of a friend who will assist him to obtain justice’ and in December that year had placed another advertisement there saying that he wanted someone to lend him £1,000 ‘for a special purpose’ and required ‘the services of two or three young men, of good blood who are ambitious of military glory’. The date and place of his marriage has not been found.
After apparently living for a while in some style in Kensington Gardens Square, Harrison was on 25 October 1861 again in prison for debt and was again adjudged bankrupt (in forma pauperis) when the extravagant style and title of the ‘pauper’ that appeared in the formal description caused some amusement. He made several unsuccessful applications for discharge but seems to have remained in the Queen’s Bench Prison until 1 January 1863 when he benefited from a change in the law and was discharged. He then told the usher that he was a candidate for the throne of Greece! It is not surprising that in February 1863 at a meeting of the Exeter Branch of the Trade Protection Society he was described as ‘one of the most extraordinary cheats London ever produced’.
Harrison became a professional genealogist about 1862-3 and was at Bedford Row from about 1865 his principal business being to trace pedigrees which, as he said, was more profitable than translating records, the pay depending on the difficulty in tracing them. He sometimes used the name ‘James Phillippe’ … ‘my grandmother being the heiress of the Phillippes’. However, in October 1867, trading as a genealogist and herald, he was again bankrupt with debts of £265. In January 1868 he was said to have assets of £262 10s, being owed that amount by Mr Piggott, of The Green, Richmond, for searching for his pedigree. Having insulted a witness, the discharge was adjourned for two months. In June 1869 he took a successful action for libel against the Cornhill Magazine for a story about his time in Spain in which he was described as a ‘notorious swindler’. He said then that he had been a genealogist for six or seven years, was a linguist and antiquary, and was in attendance daily at the Record Office. Thomas Duffus Hardy, Deputy Keeper, said that he had known Harrison since 1863 and believed him sincere but eccentric; if Harrison were a swindler he would not be permitted to continue visiting the Office. Although the story seems to have had a factual basis, Harrison was awarded £50 damages and he was accordingly allowed to continue his work at the Record Office.
In the 1871 census George Harrison appears at 24 Hunter Street, St Pancras, as George Eley, aged 53, translator of records, born at Gilling, Yorkshire, with his wife Maria, aged 36, and daughter Blanche, aged 7. Eley or, more frequently Eeley, appears to have been his wife’s maiden name. However, on 9 September 1871, styling himself ‘Mr James Phillippe, of 48, Bedford Row, London’, Harrison placed an advertisement in The Field newspaper which was copied and ridiculed for its self-confidence and effrontery in The Herald and Genealogist under the heading ‘A Radical Reformer in Genealogy’. Mr Phillippe had satisfied himself, he wrote, ‘that nearly the whole of the pedigrees hitherto pulished are fictitious’. The Visitation pedigrees were all ‘either fictitious inventions or the erroneous result of tradition’. The genealogical manuscripts in the British Museum were ‘simply trash’. Pedigrees could only be compiled from the Common Plea Rolls and having studied them for many years ‘he confidently states that he is the only man who ever lived competent to give a true account of all families of English extraction’. The advertisement concluded, ‘Fictitious pedigrees and family histories examined and reported upon’. An appended note attacked the registering and granting of Arms by the College of Arms saying that it ‘is wonderful that any persons should be such addle-headed donkeys as to to entertain any such humbug’. Readers of The Field may not have known what he was talking about but some may have been attracted by his offer of ‘genuine pedigrees, properly vouched, at half the price at which spurious pedigees are obtained elsewhere’. Wrottesley did not start his work on the Plea Rolls until 1880 and had begun by taking only the Staffordshire entries and so there was little or no over-lap.
Harrison had for some years been planning a six-volume history of Yorkshire which was to include everything of value that he could find in his favoured Plea Rolls and in a series of notices in the York Herald early in 1873 in the name James Phillippe, he drew attention to the first volume of his forthcoming History of the North Riding of the County of York. When the first volume actually appeared in 1879 its coverage was limited to the Wapentake of Gilling West near Richmond. Reviewers of the ‘ponderous tome’ were not impressed. It was prefaced with a copy of the portrait taken in Lima in 1844 and an account of his family in the male line from ‘Odin, King of Ascardia about seventy-six years before the birth of Christ’ who was said to be forty-first in descent from Eric, King of the Goths in the time of Abraham’s great-grandfather. The pedigree’s heading boasted, ‘This pedigree represents the concentrated glory of a world’. Aleyn Lyell Reade thought it ‘a supreme example of fantastic genealogy’. The history, which cost fifteen guineas, is said to have sold less than twenty copies and no further volumes were produced.
Also in 1873, presumably in an attempt to gain publicity for his services, Harrison presented a quite bogus pedigree of George Washington’s family to President Ulysses S. Grant of America. According to Colonel Chester who had long known Harrison in London, the pedigree had been concocted by him as a catchpenny concern for the publisher John Camden Hotten who had died that year. The identity of Washington’s emigrant ancestor was not then known with certainty and Chester had shown the pedigree’s falsity in 1866 but the unpleasant Albert Welles in New York now published it in all its bogus glory, linking the first American president to the god Odin, the founder of Scandinavia, who, of course, was also Harrison’s first claimed ancestor. Chester wrote to a friend, ‘Of course you would not find any proofs of his statements. This distinguished ‘genealogist’ never furnishes any’.
In July 1876 Harrison published a facsimile and translation of the Middlesex section of Domesday book which a review in The Graphic said had been executed ‘with the utmost care’. However, the following year he encouraged Henry De Burgh-Lawson to assume a baronetcy formerly held in a branch of his family which had been extinct since 1834 and authorised him to publish a letter in which he said that he was ‘answerable for the integrity of your pedigree’. However, in 1881 Joseph Foster consigned the claim to a section of his Baronetage entitled ‘Chaos’ as having no prima facie evidence and the family was not later entered on the Official Roll. In February 1878 Harrison was successfully sued in the Court of Queen’s Bench for the balance of the cost of a gold watch for which he had paid only £5 of the £75 asked.
Although supported by Duffus Hardy at the trial in 1869, Harrison had a difficult relationship with some at the Public Record Office and in 1875 his complaint that Alexander Ewald, the senior clerk, had witten a highly popular life of the Young Pretender partly in official time, led to the latter’s official censure. About that time Harrison had also accused a respected transcriber, A. T. Watson, of taking documents out of the office for indexing, a charge that Watson was able to rebut.
In 1881 Harrison, his wife and daughter, were at 93 Highgate Road, St Pancras, he describing himself merely as ‘George Harrison, genealogist’. In 1883-8 he rented a garrett room on the fourth floor at 10 New Court, Lincoln’s Inn. His life had become a record of poverty and disappointment but he may have mellowed somewhat for Paley Baildon remarked on his ‘great fund of anecdote and humour’ and young Corrie Leonard Thompson (1868-1897), who cannot have known him long, said that he ‘bore with him a most kindly manner’. In his later years ‘the Major’ spent the majority of his time in the Record Office taking notes from the Plea Rolls. His income must have been slight but A. L. Morton noted that one source was research for other people called Harrison, though his extravagant pretensions and arrogant manner antagonised his fellow genealogists, ‘They regarded him as a crazy imposter while he regarded them as ignorant charlatans’. On his death in 1890 Edward Walford recalled that he had sought advertisements in his Antiquarian Magazine as ‘the only living genealogist’ and another writer ridiculed his pretensions and wrote that he ‘could only be regarded as a madman’. However, the lasting value of his indexing and abstracts was recognised and his daughter was able to sell twelve volumes of extracts from the De Banco and Coram Rege Rolls, written between 1865 and 1888, to the Record Office for £240. She had asked £600 for his thirty volumes. The remainder came into the possession of the genealogist Arthur Campling (died 1947) and after his death the Office bought a further five volumes, the remainder going to another genealogist Philip Blake (died 1994) and coming to the Office after his death. Harrison’s contemporary Walter Rye thought his advertisement of an index to the De Banco rolls ‘most misleading’, saying ‘he had an index to his notes or extracts only’ and adding ‘all young genealogists should be most careful of believing anything he wrote’. The references may be valuable but his stated relationships are entirely untrustworthy. Undoubtedly industrious, he lacked all critical sense.
Plantagenet Harrison died in Islington, 18 July 1890, and his widow Maria died in 1922. Their only child Blanche (1863-1934), married in 1892, John Christopher Cain Routh (1856-1939), but had no issue.
The history of genealogy is far from being that of a steady development of the subject, encouraged by dedicated and pleasant people, and amongst the eccentrics there have always been some genealogists who are thoroughly unpleasant and, indeed, quite impossible people. For all that the great medieval scholar John ‘Horace’ Round (1854-1928), a pupil of the Oxford historian William Stubbs (1825-1901), contributed to the subject and despite the sympathetic biographies accorded him by William Page, Frank Stenton and Raymond Powell, he was one of the least pleasant persons that the subject has produced. Of a nervous and delicate constitution and living almost entirely alone, he suffered debilitating headaches and other ill-health from an early age. However, throughout life he was eager to enter into controversy and he developed a withering contempt for other scholars and anyone with liberal tendencies, displayed in violent and unnecessarily repeated and venomous attacks on those of whom he disapproved or had the temerity to criticise him. An elderly aunt told him about 1896 that ‘a touch of envy and discontent is your besetting sin (from early years) and it takes such possession of your mind that you are almost unaware of it’.
Horace Round came from a gentry family involved in the public life of Essex but he was of modest private means. An involvement in electioneering brought him an appointment as Deputy Lieutenant of the county in 1892 but although use of the fancy uniform gave him pleasure, it was an honorific post without duties and he subsequently had no formal position other than when ‘Honorary Historical Adviser to the Crown in peerage cases’ in 1914-21. Round thus had time to contribute an extraordinary number of articles, reviews and notes to various journals over a period of twenty-five years. He had developed an interest in genealogy when quite young and had written to Sir Bernard Burke whilst fresh at Balliol College in 1874, apparently with corrections to one of his books, but a subsequent offer of assistance with research at the Bodleian was ignored. In his final year the College Master, Benjamin Jowett, who had heard from Round’s tutor that he was ‘too fond of pedigrees’, told him that he should read Freeman’s fierce article on ‘Pedigrees and Pedigree Makers’ mentioned below, but his first publication was a review of the 1879 edition of Burke’s Landed Gentry in the Saturday Review which praised its recent improvements. Between 1881 and 1883 several of his genealogical papers appeared in Notes & Queries and in those years he contributed to and promoted Joseph Foster’s Collectanea Genealogica and Foster’s valuable new Peerage after which he eagerly gave support to the wealthy and avuncular George Edward Cokayne (1825-1911), Norroy King of Arms, then embarking on his monumental Complete Peerage (8 vols. 1887-98). They got on well, for although the prim Round ‘loved a lord’ and disapproved of the chronique scandaleuse found in Cokayne’s footnotes, Cokayne refused to be drawn into any quarrels.
Working at the Public Record Office, Round became friendly with Walford Selby, the superintendent of the search room, another well-connected Essex man, who had founded the Pipe Roll Society in 1883 and from 1884 was the editor of The Genealogist the mouthpiece of the critical school of genealogy. Selby claimed descent from the Browne family, viscounts Montagu, and at one time (like several others) had preferred a claim to that peerage, dormant or perhaps extinct since 1797. Between 1885 and 1903 Round contributed some 69 articles and notes to his journal, mostly on Anglo-Norman baronial families, though Selby, who died in 1889, was already referring to Round as ‘the official nightmare’! The prolific Round also contributed over 40 items to Edward Walford’s Antiquary (1880-7) and the Antiquarian Magazine (from 1882). Between 1885 and 1900 he wrote 78 articles for the Dictionary of National Biography, utilising recently published record sources and often, for the first time, demonstrating how genealogy could assist the historian.
Freeman’s pamphlet on the Nature and Origin of the House of Lords (1884) annoyed Round intensely and was the beginning of a life-long war on Freeman’s partiality and inaccuracy. Lord Lytton thought Freeman ‘a pretentious fellow and a bad writer’. Meanwhile, as a result of the three papers which Round gave at the octocentenary celebrations of Domesday Book in 1886 and published in Domesday Studies (1888), he became a recognised authority on Domesday. His biography of Geoffrey de Mandeville (1892) with its use of royal charters, followed by Feudal England (1895) and his Calendar of Documents preserved in France (1899) established him as a leading historian of the Anglo-Norman period. He had excellent French having lived in France when very young. For the Calendar, on which he worked for five years and visited France seven times, he was paid half a guinea a printed page and earned a total of £386.
Also in 1886 Round played a leading part in the foundation of the English Historical Review and until 1923 contributed some 63 items to all but two of its annual volumes. Taking the value of good reviews very seriously, he provided it with over two hundred. However, other historians were becoming increasingly wary of him and his editors needed great patience and firmness. Liberal disciples of Freeman such as Thomas Archer, Kate Norgate, Charles Oman and William Stephens were, after Freeman’s death in 1892, pilloried unmercifully, and following the publication of the Red Book of the Exchequer (1896), edited by a former friend Hubert Hall, then Senior Clerk at the PRO and Director of the Royal Historical Society, Round carried out a vicious and sustained attack on him. Hall, who was not a strong medievalist and had, in the legal historian Professor Frederic Maitland’s words, ‘a curious fluffy mind’, was also ‘a right good sort’ but was constrained by his official position and he said with some justification that these attacks were prompted by ‘private malice’. They were probably made worse by his work at the newly founded London School of Economics and his friendship with social reformers such as Sidney and Beatrice Webb. However, Round’s selection of topics for his next work, The Commune of London (1899), seems to have been largely dictated (as was the case with his later books) as vehicles for personal animus and he was now widely disliked and feared. He lost the friendship of Maitland who openly criticised his aggressiveness and bad manners and indeed his failure to sustain a continuous narrative without striking out at someone of whom he disapproved.
In 1899, having involved himself in various political and religious controversies, Round, a lonely man needing to be wanted, threw himself into the work of the Victoria County History and became a friend and supporter of its General Editors, Arthur Doubleday and William Page. As the ‘Domesday Editor’ of the series, he promoted it with evangelical fervour and contributed to it almost full-time until 1901 and from 1905 to 1908, though frequently criticising its arid style and lack of adequate maps. The original plan was that each county would have a volume of pedigrees of local families which had held a seat and landed estate in the male line since 1760, but owing to the great expenditure involved those for Northamptonshire (2 vols. 1906) edited by Oswald Barron and for Hertfordshire (1907) edited by Duncan Warrand, were the only ones to appear.
In 1902, as noted above, Round and Barron persuaded Doubleday to found the quarterly magazine, The Ancestor, intending that it should set new standards in scholarship. Raymond Powell calls Oswald Barron, the son of a marine engineer from Dagenham, ‘an erratic little man without social graces’, but he got on surprisingly well with Round to whom he was ‘fiercely loyal, and submissive under reproof’. However, Barron, who had been educated at Merchant Taylors’ School and in the 1890s worked as a record searcher in the extensive practice of Henry Farnham Burke at the College of Arms, was unable to restrain Round’s taste for controversy and The Ancestor, as W. H. Benbow Bird told Round in 1903, had become ‘a vehicle for your personal animosities’ and was frightening away potential contributors. Bird, a noted editor of the Close Rolls, had himself contributed the famous article on ‘The Grosvenor Myth’ to the magazine’s first volume but Round, who could not bear any form of criticism, savaged him over the Trafford pedigree in The Ancestor in 1905 and characteristically returned in 1910 to savage him again and at greater length in Peerage and Pedigree. By late 1905 Round was a very sick man and with Arthur Doubleday’s departure from Constables, the journal ceased publication. Barron went on to write popular daily articles as ‘The Londoner’ on general topics for The Evening News, revealing an urbane personality of great charm, and he gained great acclaim for his magisterial article on ‘Heraldry’ in the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica. To that encyclopedia Horace Round contributed some 36 articles, including that on the ‘Battle Abbey Roll’.
Since 1897 Round had also been involved, initially with Joseph Foster who had strong views on the subject, with the rights of Baronets (some fifty of whom had very dubious claims to their titles) and he worked hard on their reform and to give a stricter scrutiny to the descent and assumption of titles. A Departmental Committee on the Baronetage, appointed by the Home Secretary in 1907, was of the opinion that the position held by members of the College of Arms in the examination of such claims did ‘not guarantee the necessary legal training and experience to qualify them for the task’. After the establishment of the Official Roll of the Baronetage in 1910 Round involved himself in the work of the Committee of Privileges of the House of Lords, being regularly consulted on peerage claims, and apparently hoping that he might himself receive some public recognition as a peer or privy councillor.
In 1910 Round published two substantial volumes, Peerage and Pedigree: studies in peerage law and family history (750 copies, 25s.), the first of which was concerned mainly with the descent of dignities and the inconsistent and sometimes conflicting rules that had been applied. He discussed these at length in ‘The Muddle of the Law’ and ‘The House of Lords’. His second volume treated family history, as he wrote ‘in the modern critical spirit and on the same principles as other history’. In ‘Some “Saxon” houses’ he tackled at length the claimed Saxon descents of families found in Burke, following this with ‘The great Carington imposture’, an extended and savage attack on the History and Records of the Smith-Carrington family from the Conquest (1907) by Walter Arthur Copinger (1847-1910), Professor of Law at Victoria University, Manchester, and an expert on conveyancing, the registration of whose pedigree at the College of Arms had caused Round great indignation. Copinger, perhaps fortunately, had died just a month earlier. Round continued with ‘The Geste of John de Courcy’, an attack on Edward Irving Carlyle (1871-1952), the author of the article about de Courcy (amongst dozens of others) in the Dictionary of National Biography of which Carlyle was the Assistant-Editor, Round describing him with heavy sarcasm as ‘doubtless a distinguished historian’. His final article was ‘Heraldry and the Gent’ with its attack on A. C. Fox-Davies mentioned below.
The perverse Round did not deign to appear before the Royal Commission on Public Records between 1910 and 1919 and, as John Cantwell says, ‘did not disguise his contempt for it’, but that probably had much to do with the fact that the hated Hubert Hall, a dedicated and tireless advocate for archives, was its Secretary. However, in spite of his health Round took a leading part and gave two lectures at the International Congress of Historical Studies in London in April 1913. In one talk, entitled ‘Historical Genealogy’, he discussed genealogy as a branch of history, genealogy based on historical research principles, and genealogy’s own development. He thought that genealogy’s services to the general historian ‘can easily be overrated’ though it was essential for an understanding of Domesday Book and the feudal baronage. However, he thought it ‘of supreme value’ for topographical history and for the charting of manorial descents prior to 1485, saying that ‘the topographer should always have a pedigree by his side, and the genealogist a local map’. After 1485 genealogy was ‘unconnected with the tenure of land’ and became a ‘study based on other sources than the records of manorial descent’. It was to many minds ‘a subject of ridicule and of scorn’ and he spoke of the fabulous pedigrees in Burke’s Peerage and Landed Gentry. He could not accept ‘as a true student of genealogy one who cares for nothing but the pedigree of his own family’. The great age of pedigree concoction had been from the middle of the sixteenth to the middle of the seventeenth century and he blamed the heralds for the decadence of heraldic art, the commercial granting or arms, the producton of armorial scrolls and for greedily swallowing forged charters and seals, the great Burghley being ‘pedigree-mad’. With infinite labour he had set himself to expose them, ‘nailing them up one by one, as a gamekeeper nails his vermin, and trying to place the critical study of genealogical evidence on a sound and historical basis’. Under Charles II the public records in the Tower of London were searched with such assiduity that the knowledge of their contents became ‘absolutely astounding’ and the publication of Dugdale’s Baronage of England (1675-6) had been a landmark, standing for honesty and truth. Of the earlier heralds he used only the work of Robert Glover, Somerset Herald. He praised as ‘historical genealogy’ John Smyth’s great work on the Berkeleys, extracted from public records and charters and written on historical principles. Arthur Collins, although industrious and well qualified, lacked independence and his peerage was ‘crammed with ludicrous genealogy’ which was copied into Burke and now moved historians ‘to contempt and scorn’. He said that after 1832 two rival schools of genealogy developed: firstly that of the complaisant heralds and Burke, and secondly the critical and historical school founded by John Gough Nichols through his valuable periodicals and carried on by The Genealogist, ‘in spite of small demand for work of this character’. Joseph Foster’s attempt at a historically truthful Peerage had been ‘remarkably successful’. It was far easier to construct a spurious pedigree than to demolish an imposture, especially if it adduced no evidence. Pedigrees on ‘record’ at the College of Arms would not necessarily meet modern standards of proof. The word ‘tradition’ should excite no reverence. He ended by saying, ‘Show us the evidence – valid evidence, such as historians would accept – and we will gladly admit a pedigree from the Norman Conquest, its splendour increased by the very methods which have enabled us to purge genealogy of its dross and to give you its ore alone’.
In 1914 (by which date his branch of the Round family had been removed from Burke’s Landed Gentry) he was appointed Honorary Historical Adviser to the Crown in peerage cases. His advice was not always taken and he resigned in 1922. In 1905 Round had accepted an honorary LL.D. from Edinburgh University but he perversely declined the Fellowship of the British Academy because Sir Charles Oman was elected at the same time and he declined that of the Society of Antiquaries because there was an entrance fee.
Meanhile, his work on the revival of dormant peerages had brought him into conflict with his former friend Arthur Doubleday who fiercely attacked the process in an unnecessarily provocative article in the Complete Peerage in 1916. Round responded violently in the English Historical Review in 1918 charging Doubleday with inaccuracy and plagiarism. Doubleday together with the editor of the Review and its publisher threatened to sue Round for malicious libel and they were compelled to admit that the charges were ‘not substantiated’ and to publish an apology. Geoffrey Henllan White (1873-1969), a later editor of the Complete Peerage, thought that the charges against Arthur Doubleday were entirely devoid of justification. Until that time Round had assisted with the first four volumes of the revised Complete Peerage and its appendices but after the row with Doubleday in 1916 he took no active part in the preparation of subsequent volumes. After an internal operation in 1915 Round was an invalid. Although he had long been a crony of the industrious Walter Rye (about whom he poked fun as ‘Waltah’ behind his back) they exchanged bitter blows in 1920 when Round published a vicious attack on one of his books in the English Historical Review and an indignant Rye countered with a list of some fifty-seven people that Round had abused in print!
Geoffrey White, writing after Round’s death in 1928, said that he was undoubtedly the greatest master of historical genealogy, equipped with much learning and insight and possessed of a remarkable skill in analysing evidence and detecting the weak points in the fraudulent pedigrees that he exposed, having a whole-hearted contempt for the sham genealogy and dishonest heralds of earlier days. The Revd Henry Denny wrote, 'To him more than any other individual may be given the credit of having raised Genealogy from the realms of 'gorgeous mythology' to the position of an exact and scientific department of History' in which narratives were based solely upon citations to primary sources. A bibliography of Round’s works by Raymond Powell lists some 960 items, 940 of them articles in some 45 periodicals or reference works.
Joseph Jackson Howard, George Marshal and, at the end of his life, Oswald Barron all had official appointments at the College of Arms and there was never any suggestion that their periodicals should form the basis of any larger organisation that might create a library or, Heaven forbid, undertake research that would take clients away from the College. In 1867, as described below, John Gough Nichols had himself carried out an attack on 'the tribe of advertising quacks who endeavour to intercept the business which ought to come to the hands of the professional Heralds' and many clearly held that view.
However, although Sir Anthony Wagner wrote that English genealogists are individualists, who show no wish to be organized, there were some attempts to found a society of persons interested in genealogy in London in the nineteenth century, though they had no lasting impact and their collections, such as they were, have not survived. As mentioned, the College of Arms and long-standing and extensive professional practices viewed such associations, even into the twentieth century, with suspicion and concern, fearing that they would take paid work away from them.
The New England Historic Genealogical Society had been founded in Boston, Massachusetts in 1847 and is now the oldest genealogical society in the world. A year earlier the ‘London Genealogical Society’ had been launched, a notice in the Morning Post for 11 March 1846 proclaiming that, ‘The Council will proceed to the next election of Fellows, Members, &c., on the 18th instant. Candidates are requested to forward their cards without delay. As a list of the corresponding members for each county is nearly complete, gentlemen desirous of being appointed for the county in which they reside, previous to a general visitation, are requested to apply to the Marshal as early as possible. Prospectuses and rules may be had on application – Genealogical Record Office, 32, Cockspur Street, Pall Mall’.
The great wit Douglas Jerrold (1803-1857), writing in Punch in February, had seen the Society’s prospectus and with heravy sarcasm had made fun of ‘the astounding utility of this society’ with its ‘many nascent benefits’ and in particular its proposed visitations of the kingdom at which ‘arms and pedigree’ might be recorded for a guinea and membership obtained for two guineas. The article said that a Genealogical Institution was also to be established and revealed that the ‘Marshal and Principal’ behind this money-raising scheme was calling himself ‘E. Wyrelle M. Weber’. He seems to have taken the idea from Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick’s Heraldic Visitations of Wales (1846) to which he had subscribed that year. He certainly deceived the Yorkshire historian and journalist John Walker Ord (1811-1853) who, in an advertisement for his History and Antiquities of Cleveland (1847), proudly styled himself ‘Corresponding Member and Fellow of the London Genealogical Society’.
Weber was a very doubtful character. He had been born at Ellesmere in Shropshire in 1812 as Edward Worall, the son of a ‘deedsman’. When he went bankrupt in 1849 it was stated that before coming to London he had been an ‘author’ at Stratford-upon-Avon and at Wellington in Shropshire. After the promotion of his ‘London Genealogical Society’ he had been Secretary to the National Reform League and a ‘town traveller’, but when in prison as an insolvent debtor in 1856 it was revealed that he had been sued and was commonly known as Edward Wyrall, ‘author and artist’, and had a wife who was a Professor of Music. Indeed, the couple had at least five surviving children. These he deserted in 1869 when he married bigamously in Staffordshire one Eugénie Frédérique Nifenecker, a teacher of French and some thirty years his junior, by whom he had further children. At the time of his death at Hanley in 1873 he was calling himself ‘De Wyrall’ and had been variously described as a teacher, antiquarian and transcriber. It is perhaps not surprising that in April 1852 a correspondent to N&Q calling himself ‘Metaouo’, said that shortly after its foundation he had been appointed corresponding member to the London Genealogical Society, but on going to the rooms one morning he had found that the concern had ‘vanished into thin air’.
The original announcement of the ‘visitation’ from Shrewsbury had produced a perceptive note under the heading ‘The Genealogical Society of London’ in the Spectator which was copied into several other papers, saying ‘The announcement must have fluttered the hearts of the whole squirearchy ‘round the Wrekin’. All who have summered or wintered in ‘country quarters’ know the tendency of genealogies to grow backwards. A wealthy grocer purchases an estate and settles down upon it; his grown-up sons and daughters are civilly received by the surrounding gentry; their children are the equal play-mates of the aristocratic nurseries; in the course of two or at the most three generations, the grocer’s family is incorporated into the body of the county gentry by a silent imperceptible process analogous to the assimilation of food by the human body. Strangers and slight acquaintancies, on the strength of a name, attribute relationships to the new family, which it does not deny and comes at last to believe. Many a respectable family tree grows after this inverted fashion: genealogies are formed as the Chinese have constructed their historical cycles, by calculating backwards. The number of these ex-post-facto genealogies in a ‘shop keeping’ nation is enormous.Their existence if often suspected, but from common politeness rarely if ever spoken about. And this agreeable state of half self-delusion the Genealogical Society of London threatens to terminate by their invasion of the county of Salop!’
Very shortly afterwards an ‘Heraldic and Genealogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland’ was announced with the object of collecting and publishing documentary evidence. A note in the Chelmsford Chronicle for Friday, 7 May 1847, said that the wealthy Earl of Shrewsbury, a catholic, was its President, with the Marquis of Bute, the Earl of Eglintoun and Sir Thomas Phillipps as vice-presidents. Its council of twelve members included Thomas Stapleton (Vice-President of the Society of Antiquaries), Sir Cuthbert Sharp and the young and well-connected William Downing Bruce (1824-1875), F.S.A. The latter, presumably the source of the information, was said to be ‘the author of many works on genealogical subjects, who is now preparing for publication a new edition of Douglas’ Baronage of Scotland, with revisions, corrections, and a continuation’.The society’s council was said to have appointed the Revd Roger Dawson Duffield, of Lamarsh Rectory, to be the corresponding member for Essex. Perhaps John Walker Ord was confused between the two societies.
A correspondent, ‘W.P.A.’, asked about this organisation in Notes & Queries in March 1852 and according to ‘Metaouo’ the following month, a prospectus issued ‘a few years ago’ had named its Secretary as William Downing Bruce, then of the United Services Institution, Whitehall. However, the London Gazette had revealed in November 1850 that Downing Bruce was then a law student and in a debtor’s prison! At his examination as a debtor the following month he gave a series of addresses and described himself as of no profession or employ, an author, a director of various railway companies and occasionally dealing in railway shares. The President of the Society, the Earl of Shrewsbury was living abroad and died in November 1852. How far the ‘Heraldic and Genealogical Society’ had actually existed is not clear, but it does not appear again. William Downing Bruce had married at Paris in November 1847 and he and his mother-in-law had some connection with the genealogist and fraudster Plantagenet Harrison. It was Major Dundas’s aspersions on Downing Bruce’s wife that provoked Harrison’s vicious attack on the major mentioned above. Downing Bruce’s debt being less than £20 he was discharged in January 1851 but not before there had been allegations of forgery in which Pantagenet Harrison and his brother Francis Harrison were also involved. Downing Bruce, who published a pamphlet on the ecclesiastical courts in 1854, was afterwards a judge in Jamaica!
However, the Genealogical and Historical Society of Great Britain, founded in 1853-4, 'for the illustration of family history, lineage and biography' and meeting until 1857 at 18 Charles Street, St James’s Square, certainly was a membership society and had a slightly longer existence. Correspondents in Notes and Queries later said that the promoters of this organisation had, on 14 May 1854, issued an admirable prospectus that deserved support and that it used as its unregistered arms Azure three scrolls, a crest A hand holding a pen, and supporters Time and Fame each holding a scroll. An early idea to establish a branch in Cheshire and North Wales, though warmly welcomed in the local press, seems to have been quickly abandoned even though the Morning Chronicle carried a passionate manifesto of the value of such local societies. It ends, ‘Aid would be given to aid, information to information, correction to correction, illustration to illustration, evidence to evidence, which would prove satisfactory, truthful, and pleasing in the result’.
In July 1855 the new Society advertised its existence in Notes and Queries, saying that it had been founded 'by several Noblemen and Gentlemen interested in Genealogical and Historical research, for the elucidation and compilation of Family History, Lineage, and Biography, and for authenticating and illustrating the same'. The journalist and compiler Edward Walford (1823-1897), then involved in producing the Shilling Peerage, took the chair at the first AGM on 13 November 1855 and said that Lord Strangford (director of the Society of Antiquaries) had agreed to be the President but had died. A journal was to be commenced early the following year and there was an urgent need to establish a library. The chairman optimistically said that ‘he hoped all chances of misunderstanding that might possibly arise with the Herald’s College had been removed by private explanation, and showed that the interests of the two bodies were, in point of fact, identical’. That would certainly not have satisfied those at the College.
The society's Secretary throughout its existence was Theodore Rycroft Dalby Reeve (1821-1911), known as 'Rycroft Reeve', who lived then in Brompton Crescent, Kensington and variously described himself as a journalist, literary writer, art critic and genealogist. From reports of the early meetings he seems to have been interested in ‘family history prior to the Norman Invasion’. The President, elected in 1856, was George (Egerton), Viscount Brackley, formerly Liberal-Conservative M.P. for North Staffordshire, who succeeded his father as 2nd Earl of Ellesmere in 1859 and inherited a large portion of the property of the last Duke of Bridgewater. His father had been a book collector and patron of learned societies who opened the famous picture gallery at Bridgewater House to the public and the son was also a scholarly man, a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Trustee of the British Museum.
At the Annual Meeting on 20 December 1856, Viscount Brackley, then a Vice-President took the chair and said that the membership had increased considerably and that a number of old families had entrusted the Society with their manuscripts. At another meeting in May 1857 it was noted how economically the Society’s proceedings had been conducted and that various books had been donated, some richly emblazoned pedigrees being laid on the table. By then the Society was regularly advertising its existence in the Morning Post.
By the time of the Society’s fifth Annual Meeting on 11 August 1858 it had moved to ‘the Society’s house, 208 Piccadilly’, though it did not appear in the London Directories until 1861. The rooms there were apparently above Francis Pastorelli & Co, wholesale opticians, on the south side of Piccadilly near St James's Church.
With Lord Ellesmere as President the Society became more active and between 1858 and 1863 it published Annual Reports and a List of Members but described itself as 'purely a learned' society, meaning that it did not undertake paid research and thus posed no threat to the College of Arms. The 1858 report says that in the absence of Lord Ellesmere, Lord Farnham, a vice-president, took the chair and that there was ‘a very numerous attendance of Fellows, amongst whom were several leading members of the aristocracy and leaders in the literary world’. At the ‘inconveniently crowded’ meeting a young man called Samon Service (died 1865), an insurance agent at Barton upon Irwell and the son of a parish clerk at Bowdon in Cheshire, outlined a scheme to make a summary index of the kingdom’s parish registers prior to 1836 and although the Revd Thomas Hugo (1820-1876), the ultra-High-Church Bewick collector, objected to the idea as against the vested interest of parish clerks and clergymen, the Revd Richard Cox Hales, Rector of Woodmancoat, said that the private interests of a few clergy should be made to yield to the convenience of the public and that compensation might be provided. The family historian Sir Edward Conroy (1809-1869), the spoilt son of Queen Victoria’s hated Sir John Conroy, said that something should be done to make the registers more available; when he was in the Registrar General’s department (he had resigned as Deputy Registrar General in 1842) he had looked at many schemes and he thought the present one worthy of examination by the Society. Several elaborate pedigrees, including one of Lord Farnham prepared by Sir Bernard Burke, were again laid on the table.
The Society's Sixth Annual Meeting was held at Lord Ellesmere’s town house, Bridgewater House, near St James's Palace, on Wednesday, 6 July 1859. An original invitation which I have indicates that Fellows were allowed to introduce visitors, carriages being instructed 'to set down in Little St James's Street'. Lord Ellesmere had presided at the council meeting in May and his invitation to Bridgewater House had been noted in the Morning Post, so there was a considerable gathering at the meeting when between four and five hundred persons were present. It was then said that the Society had upwards of 200 associates (perhaps mostly honorary), giving assistance freely to each other.
In an effort to gain greater publicity for the Society, Lord Ellesmere again opened the magnificent Bridgewater House to its members for a grand reception on 17 July 1860 when refreshments were served throughout the evening to ‘a numerous and brilliant assembly, composed of ladies and gentlemen in about equal proportions’ in rooms adjoining the picture gallery where the Society’s seventh AGM was held. Unfortunately the President was indisposed but Lord Ebury took the chair. He referred to the ‘many persons who are in want of the aid and information which an association of this kind is capable of affording’ and mentioned the many documents which had been ‘copied, registered, compared, and placed in form’, but the Secretary’s report revealed that the arrears of subscriptions totalled £679-7-0 and there was only £12-14-0 in the bank. There were four talks (on the Domesday Survey, the Anglo-Saxon Kings, Chronicles and Heraldry, on the Half-crown, and on Artificial Memory as applied to the Study of History) but thankfully we are assured that, ‘The proceedings terminated at an early hour’.
From its early days the Society had elected Honorary Fellows and the newspapers of the time contain many references to persons who had been so distinguished, but that this provided any income for the organisation is unlikely. It cannot have been helped by the publicity given to an action, settled out of Court, which Commander George Baring Browne Collier, R.N. (1816-1890), a grandson of Admiral Sir George Collier, K.T., took against the Society’s secretary Rycroft Reeve for ‘neglecting to do what he undertook’ in August 1863. Collier believed that he was descended from a Baron de la Roche who had been summoned to attend Parliament in 1299-1306 and Reeve had undertaken to furnish the missing link. Collier, believing Reeve to be ‘the secretary of a genealogical society and a person likely to be able to furnish him with the required information’, had paid him £386 but now Reeve ‘had not found the missing link, and refused to give up the papers’. It was said that Reeve ‘had not gone the right way to work as a skilled man should have done’ and instead of ascertaining who the last baron was and whether he had issue, had attempted to trace Collier’s pedigree backwards in all its lines. The ‘Baron’ had been summoned to Parliament by writs directed ‘Thome de la Roche’ whereby, according to modern doctrine, he had become Lord Roche, but none of his descendants were summoned to Parliament and any peerage that may have been created by the writs went into abeyance in 1382.
The unfortunate court case had immediately followed the death in September 1862 of the Society’s invalid President, Lord Ellesmere, aged 39. His uncle wrote of him, 'No man ever bore so wearisome and painful an existence with more exemplary patience and resignation'. His widow survived until 1916 but the Society now quickly went into a steep decline.
The Society’s officers moved its premises across Piccadilly to rooms at No 29 above those of a piano manufacturer and auctioneers and an entry in Lowndes' Bibliographer's Manual, perhaps written late in 1864, says that 'Several pedigrees of families have been executed by the Society, which may be inspected at the Society's Rooms'. However, although the organisation continued to appear in the London directories until 1882 and was listed amongst the 'principal societies' in Phillimore's How to write the history of a family in 1888 it had apparently long been moribund. A ‘London Correspondent’, writing in the Lancaster Gazette in 1874, said that he was constantly being asked by friends in the country if he could tell them anything about the Society and he had been at some pains to make enquiries about it but without success. It held no meetings, published no transactions and did not name its ruling body and ‘must really be a very strange sort of association’. In response to an enquiry from ‘Y.S.M.’ in N&Q for 23 July 1887, its former chairman Edward Walford wrote to say that it had done very little work after the first year or two and he did not know if it still existed. Its place was, he thought, fairly well supplied by the Royal Historical Society.
The writers in Notes and Queries in 1887 knew nothing about the organisation's papers or about all those pedigrees which had been laid on the table and about which Rycroft Reeve kept strangely quiet. He did not join the discussion, although named and his address at 25 Oakley Street, Chelsea, given. George Sherwood asked yet again through N&Q about the society’s papers in 1905 but received no answer. It was not until after Reeve’s death intestate at Wandsworth, aged 91, early in 1911 that Richard John Fynmore (1839-1920), of Sandgate, a banker who had followed his activities in 1858-60, replied, but Reeve’s death was not mentioned. The Editor may have known more about Reeve’s circumstances than he was willing publicly to say.
In the very early days of the Society its Manager, Henry Harvey of 14 Regent Square, Gray's Inn Road, who had later worked for various assurance companies, had gone bankrupt in August 1855. It is probably not a coincidence that someone of this name was much later a clerk to George Thomas Condy, a solicitor who was also involved in several London assurance companies but who also had gone bankrupt in February 1854. Rycroft Reeve was appointed the latter’s assignee in May 1854. In October 1872, Condy, aged 47, of Battersea, and Harvey, aged 53, of Pimlico, accountant, were sentenced at the Central Criminal Court to twelve months hard labour for conspiring together to defraud the creditors of one Abraham Fox, a bankrupt, by placing false claims on his file at the Bankruptcy Court.
Meanwhile in 1867 the periodical The Herald and Genealogist had noted the current popularity of heraldry and genealogy as witnessed by the number of publications on those subjects and by the great use that was being made of the genealogical manuscripts at the British Museum. It was at this time that its editor, John Gough Nichols, referred to 'the tribe of advertising quacks’, having received two circulars from one Henry Delaine calling himself the Secretary of the Fraternity of Genealogists at 51 King Street, Regent Street. Delaine claimed that 'A Society of Practical Genealogists (resident in all the principal towns of England, Scotland, and Wales) has been formed for the purpose of properly and correctly tracing the pedigrees of families of ancient date. By this union access is acquired to every Public Library in Great Britain, and also to most of the celebrated Private Libraries. By the latter, very many perfect and valuable pedigrees and other MSS have been discovered, the existence of which was previously unknown, and by this, the pedigrees of very many families of note have been traced by Genealogists and others in the olden time can be laid before them'. He went on to say that several thousand pedigrees had been culled mostly from private libraries and that the pedigrees in the College of Arms 'are but copies of the most perfect in the Harleian Library, to examine and have copies of which, large sums are demanded'. The fee for an 'ancient pedigree' was two guineas pre-paid.
The editor of Punch, Shirley Brooks (1816-1874) doubted Delaine’s statement that ‘most people can trace back to the 17th entury and so join the modern and ancient pedigree’ and said of this ‘fraternal offer’ that he could make a pedigree for himself but several of the circulars survive and a few families are known to have parted with their guineas and received pedigrees. However, later in 1867 the credibility of Henry Delaine's work was doubted by the Sussex antiquary Mark Antony Lower (1813-1876) and Delaine disappeared. That there had been any actual union of genealogists is unlikely as an appeal for information about the Fraternity in Notes and Queries in 1897 produced only a reference to Rycroft Reeve's former society.
When George Sherwood wrote in 1909 of 'manufactured ancestors' and of a study that was 'neither literature nor science' he was referring to the published work of Sir Bernard Burke on the peerage and landed gentry. More than forty years later, Brigadier Basil Charles Trappes-Lomax wrote that there are two roads that the genealogist may travel. The first is straight and has signposts with but one word on them 'Truth'. The other road, he wrote, is the one made primrose by the fictions enshrined in print by the brothers Burke.
The malign shadow cast by the Irish herald and genealogist, John 'Bernard' Burke (1814-1892), fell across the first half of the twentieth century and even today has not been fully blown away, for the fictions that he propagated in his many works and which were given a spurious authority by his knighthood and his badge of office as Ulster King of Arms (stamped lavishly on everything he did), still rear their ugly heads and are to be found in many computer databases worldwide.
Bernard Burke was the son of John Burke (1787-1848) of Gower Street, London, a catholic Irish printer who in 1826 had the bright idea of publishing a one-volume peerage in which all the entries would be in alphabetical order and which would show the ancestry of the first peer. It was intended to rival several other peerages appearing at that time, in which, like the established two- or three-volume Peerage of John Debrett (1753-1822), the entries were arranged by rank with the dukes, marquises, earls, viscounts and barons of the United Kingdom in separate groups, followed by those for Scotland and Ireland similarly arranged, but with consolidated indexes of surnames and titles. Burke's single volume was thus much easier to consult and it had an immediate success.
Like other peerage writers of the period John Burke used the indented narrative form long prevalent in Europe but he had a serious rival in a peerage produced in the name of the herald Edmund Lodge (1756-1839), Norroy King of Arms, descibed by Anthony Wagner as a ‘pioneer of social and biographical history and the study of historical portraiture’ and known for his annotated Illustrations of British History, Biography and Manners (3 vols. 1791) and similar works. Lodge’s Peerage of the British Empire as now Existing (annual from 1832) was more accurate and more nicely produced than Burke’s but its pedigrees did not extend beyond the first peer. Quite separate concentrated accounts of their ancestries were provided in another volume called The genealogy of the existing British Peerage (also from 1832). The benevolent Edmund Lodge had in 1832 allowed his name to be used by three sisters, Anne (1790-1856), Eliza (1793-1861) and Maria Catherine (1796-1880), the daughters of Charles Innes (1763-1824), a linen draper and haberdasher at the corner of Chancery Lane and Fleet Street, but a son of the Rector of Devizes and a cadet of the family of Innes of Coxton. The girls were fond of heraldry and genealogy and had previously published Sams’s Annual Peerage and Baronetage (4 vols. 1827-9) but now with the patronage of the Duchess of Kent and of Queen Victoria they continued to edit Lodge’s Peerage until about 1865 when Maria had problems with her sight, their highly esteemed Peerage continuing publication until 1932.
As mentioned above John Burke's pedigrees were based largely on those to be found in the 1812 edition of Collins's Peerage and on the many other peerages that had appeared since Dugdale's Baronage but, unlike the best of them he rarely provided any indication of his sources for specific statements or ancestries. However, sensing the commercial possibilities and in a deplorable period rich in genealogical fable, Burke then produced in rapid succession an Extinct and Dormant Peerage (1831; 3rd edn 1846), the Genealogical and heraldic history of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland (4 vols. 1833-7), A genealogical and heraldic history of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland (3 vols. 1843-9; 2nd edn 1850-3, and many subsequent editions), Extinct Baronetcies (1838, 1841, 1844), a General Armory of England, Scotland and Ireland (1842), The Royal Families of England, Scotland and Wales (1847-51), a Roll of Battle Abbey (1848) and other works.
From 1840 onwards John Burke was much assisted by his son Bernard, who had been admitted to the Middle Temple in 1835 and was called to the bar at the end of 1839, and Bernard's name appears on the title pages of the Peerage in 1840 and of the Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies in 1841. At the bar he made good money from peerage and genealogical cases and he continued his father's business after the latter's death in 1848. Bernard’s elder brother Peter Burke (1811-1881), barrister and serjeant-at-law, was also involved in peerage cases. Bernard Burke, although a 'concealed Catholic' and educated in France (about which he kept very quiet), was appointed Ulster King of Arms in Ireland in December 1853 and knighted by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at Dublin Castle in February 1854. He served as ‘Ulster’ until his death in 1892, being from 1855 also Keeper of the State Papers of Ireland.
For the next twenty years in Ireland, Bernard Burke devoted himself to the re-ordering and classification of the Irish records, securing the financial position of his office and introducing administrative reforms, a paragon of efficiency and attention to detail, but from the mid-1870s he busied himself with ceremonial duties. As early as 1872 he had written that his hand was 'so cupped' with rheumatism that he could 'scarcely hold a pen' and his last few years were plagued with ill-health. Apart from the revisions of his father's reference works (discussed below), Bernard Burke oversaw the editing of annual Peerages from 1847 until his death and of the Landed Gentry from the third edition in 1843-9 to the seventh in 1886, as well as putting out a stream of popular multi-volume works with such titles as The romance of the aristocracy, The rise of great families and Vicissitudes of families, and The book of precedence (1881) on which he was an acknowledged expert. From the point of view of the Office of Arms in Dublin he and his predecessor as Ulster King of Arms, William Betham, were 'the right people in the right place at the right time' for he made 'a significant contribution to the administration of the Office of Arms' and his work on the Irish national records led to the passing of the Record Act in 1866 and the creation of the Irish Public Record Office in the Four Courts the following year.
One of those who knew Burke at Dublin Castle in those years wrote, 'How familiar was his little chirruping, cock-sparrow figure, his bright, round face, and with what reverence used he to call out the sacred words, "Their Excellencies"! I believe he looked upon the Lords Lieutenant as something supernatural. A good natured soul, always ready with some little service, capable of grand display - fluttering in his tabard or the blue mantle of St Patrick'. The awe and deference with which Burke regarded 'grand' people is clear from everything he wrote and, in the style of the old peerage writers, he flattered them at every turn. It was the golden age of pedigree making and Burke, for all his abilities as an administrator, was 'no scholar, lacking both knowledge as a medievalist and a critical mind'. Absurd ancestries were accepted and published and unpleasing facts carefully excised and omitted. Many of his pedigrees, both printed and manuscript, as Mary-Jane French wrote, 'contain specious and spurious accounts of early generations of prominent families', solely, it would seem, as a vehicle for flattery. What had been a necessary adjunct to obtaining a subscription to a work became an unnecessary habit. During a debate in the House of Commons in 1886, when there was a move to abolish his office, Matthew Kenny, M.P.for Mid-Tyrone, said that 'for a fee' Burke would provide anyone, if they were distinguished enough, with a pedigree back to the Norman Conquest. A later editor of his Peerage, Charles Mosley, has called him ‘a charlatan, a pompous old fool’. He received a salary of £750 and another of £500 as Keeper of State Papers, but he made no fortune and his will was proved at £2,599-11-11.
Where the peerage was concerned Burke drew heavily on previously published works and he later accepted without question anything that he was told by the families concerned. This was in spite of his frequent claim, as in the Prefatory Notice to the first one-volume edition of the Landed Gentry (1858), that he had spared 'neither toil, nor devotion; every page has been re-written, every memoir carefully revised, and every pedigree minutely examined', followed by the usual flattery of his subjects who 'though undistinguished by hereditary titles, possess an undeniable right, from antiquity of race, extent of property, and brilliancy of achievement, to take foremost rank among the lesser nobility of Europe'. In 1882 he wrote that, 'no pains had been spared in the preparation of this edition of the Landed Gentry. Every available source of information has been exhausted, each memoir has been carefully revised, and in almost every instance the head of each family and many of the collaterals have been consulted. The correspondence thus carried on has brought thousands of communications from those most competent to improve the work', which had been 'the favourite occupation of a lifetime'. Experience had not begun to teach him, as it did Arthur Charles Fox-Davies, not to 'believe for one moment, any man's account of his own family, or take his word concerning them. No matter how truthful a man may be’, Fox-Davies wrote, ‘his probity never seems to have stability on that one point'. No wonder that Fox-Davies was so widely hated and Burke so widely loved!
Sir Bernard Burke wrote in 1883 that he had received 'thousands and thousands of communications' in the furtherance of his work and that 'The gentlemen of England did for The History of the Landed Gentry in the 19th century what their ancestors did for the Heralds Visitations of the 16th and 17th; they submitted freely and courteously their pedigrees and family documents, thus enabling me to produce a work which has, for a long series of years, been most favourably received'. In 1891 he produced a two-volume Genealogical and heraldic history of the Colonial Gentry which contains many of the weaknesses of its British counterpart.
The qualification for inclusion in the early editions of Burke's Landed Gentry was, with good reason, not spelled out precisely. The title page of the first edition said that they were families 'enjoying territorial possessions or high official rank'. Philip Blake, writing in 1978 and usually well informed in these matters, understood that the qualification 'was not less than 1,500 acres until relatively modern times', but gives an example of a family in the 1876 edition with 700 acres. Mark Bence-Jones says that the typical landed gentleman had something between a thousand and five thousand acres but Peter Merton Reid wrote in 1969 that the qualification 'used to be ownership of five hundred acres and a coat-of-arms for at least three generations', correcting this later, though without stated authority, to '300 acres of agricultural land'. The editor L. G. Pine said in connection with the 1952 edition that fifty years ago the minimum land requirement had been 2,000 acres but that it was now 300 though any family might appear if it had rendered public service. Michael Sayer says that the 1914 edition was the first to list families that had lost their land and in the twentieth century the qualification for entry became little more than descent from an 'old' family or one that had formerly owned land, or, indeed, beginning with the 1965-72 edition, the acceptance by the editor of a pedigree submitted by any interested person. For Ireland, Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd wrote in 1976 that at the turn of the century the criterion had been about 1,000 acres, but after the Wyndham Land Purchase Act in 1903 that average was reduced to about 200 acres, though no family was disqualified from the 1904 and 1912 editions of Burke’s Landed Gentry of Ireland as a result.
Apart from his claim to extensive correspondence (which has not survived), little is known about Burke's method of work, but the final products rarely show evidence of the sources consulted and his claim to original research in general seems baseless. The compilation of the revised General Armory (1878, 1883) and of the Extinct and Dormant Peerage (1866, 1883) and the updating of his father's other works presumably entailed the employment of someone other than his publisher in London but Burke himself lived permanently in Ireland at Tullamaine Villa, Upper Leeson Street, Dublin and he had no base in England. When he was thinking of publishing a revised General Armory in 1875, his calls to be informed of 'Blazons of Coats of Arms omitted in the original work' requested that they be sent to his publisher in London and when his brother Peter Burke, another barrister, died in London in 1881, Bernard stayed at the Grosvenor Hotel in Buckingham Palace Road. For the 1878 revision he is known to have had the assistance of the commercially minded Stephen Isaacson Tucker (1835-1887), Rouge Croix at the College of Arms and the son of a discount broker, who made and quickly spent a fortune at that time.
Sir Bernard Burke had, even during his lifetime, some extremely fierce critics. As early as 1865 an anonymous writer, almost certainly George Burnett (1822-1890), LL.D., Advocate, who was appointed Lyon King of Arms in Scotland the following year, in a scathing booklet, Popular genealogists or the art of pedigree-making (Edinburgh, 1865) poured scorn on many of Burke’s works. In the first place Burke had, he said, a positive mania for introducing throughout his books and on the most frivolous grounds the statement that so-and-so ‘ is entitled to quarter the royal arms’, something that would never be recognised by the English or Scottish heralds. He showed that the pedigree of the royal family in the Peerage indiscriminately omitted or ignored some of its immediate members. Burnett thought that in a few instances the lineages of peers were tolerably correct but these few were the exception, for ‘confusion and blundering’ were the more general rule in both the Peerage and Baronetage. For the Scottish peers the drawings of arms frequently differed from their heraldic descriptions. The Landed Gentry reflected no credit on its compiler for unlike the Peerage, which might to a slight extent be improving year by year, the Landed Gentry was deteriorating. Indeed the 'immense majority’ of its pedigrees were ‘utterly worthless ... Families of notoriously obscure origin have their veins filled with the blood of generations of royal personages of the ancient and mythical world'. Fables were everywhere, ‘the small germs of truth being eked out with a mass of fiction’ and with a reckless disregard for dates and historical possibilities. As examples he disected the absurd pedigree and bogus seals submitted to the 1849 edition by John Ross Coulthart, a banker in Ashton-under-Lyne, tearing Coulthart’s account to shreds, and similarly ridiculing the many errors and inventions in the pedigree of Bonar where three generations of Presbyterian ministers had been transformed into Jacobite soldiers. Of Burke’s other works, Burnett said that they were full of the ‘same looseness’ and ‘easy credulity’ in everything that related to pedigree.
Ten years later Edward Augustus Freeman (1823-1892), the author of the magisterial History of the Norman Conquest (1867-76), questioned Sir Bernard's state of mind, asking in an article entitled ‘Pedigrees and Pedigree Makers’, 'Does he know, or does he not know, the manifest falsehood of the tales which he reprints year after year?' Did he think that the responsibility for their truth or falsehood rested with their contributors when, as editor, it was his duty to examine and verify them? Year after year he put forth these 'monstrous fictions, without contradiction, commonly without qualification or hesitation of any kind'. The covers of the Peerage were stamped with the royal arms and edited by a man from whom 'we have a right to expect historical criticism, and we do not get it'. Instead, as Freeman says, 'such is the abiding life of the fables that they live through all [Burke's pretended] revision and amendment' and Freeman provides instances of the 'pedigree maker's power of invention', ridiculing Burke's 'gorgeous repertory of genealogical myths' in the accounts of the early Stourton, FitzWilliam, Wake, Ashburnham, Berkeley and D'Oyly families, and insisting that anyone who puts forward a pedigree, old or new, is subject to a 'burden of proof' and is duty bound to establish its authenticity by proving its every stated fact.
It was sadly unfortunate that Freeman, sometimes inaccurate in his own details and the proponent of the Oxford ‘liberal’ school of history, was himself to be mercilessly attacked on both scores by the ‘fierce, almost fanatical’ conservative, Horace Round. Freeman and his followers represented Harold as ‘the free choice of a free people’, but that idea and his account of the Battle of Hastings were ridiculed by Round, who held the Anglo-Norman baronage in high veneration, being himself the senior representative of the Malets of Enmore.
The year after Sir Bernard Burke's death, Horace Round took up this theme and wrote an article on 'The Peerage', i.e. Burke's Peerage, for the Quarterly Review, drawing attention to its 'errors, mis-statements and absurdities', and subsequently in his Studies in peerage and family history (1901), Peerage and pedigree: studies in peerage law and family history (2 vols. 1910) and in hundreds of reviews and articles, with 'cruel skill', as Sir Anthony Wagner later wrote, dissected and destroyed many of its pedigrees.
Bernard Burke had married in 1856 and had one daughter and seven sons. His eldest son, Sir Henry Farnham Burke (1859-1930), was an absentee Deputy ‘Ulster’ to his father 1889-93, but had entered the College of Arms in London in 1880, rising to become Garter King of Arms in 1918. Like his father he was a highly competent man of business, but unlike his father he also had the reputation of being an able genealogist and master of the science and art of heraldry. Both Oswald Barron and A. T. Butler had when young worked in his office.
However, another son, the less competent Ashworth Peter Burke (1864-1919), continued to edit the Landed Gentry from 1894 to 1906 and the Peerage until 1919. The many genealogists who had hoped to see an improvement in the articles in the Landed Gentry were quickly disappointed when the young Ernest Axon (1868-1947), a librarian at Manchester Public Library, wrote to N&Q in 1894 saying that the first edition published since Sir Bernard’s death would ‘blast their hopes’. He wrote that ‘in numberless cases descents are implied that will not bear a moment’s examination’ and listed some thirty-nine examples of gross errors and absurd statements. Ashworth Burke believed that, 'The nobility and gentry of the three Kingdoms are however by no means confined to these classes [the peerage and landed gentry], but include many other families of equal position, descent and alliance, for a gentleman derives his nobility from his ancestors and not from the mere possession of lands and titles', and he published another group of pedigrees as Family Records (1897). The youngest son, Arthur Meredyth Burke (1872-1920), already mentioned, compiled the Key to the ancient parish registers of England and Wales (1908).
It was undoubtedly the fear of giving offence to influential people that fuelled the reluctance of subsequent editors of Burke's volumes, some of them very able genealogists, to remove from later editions all the false descents that so disfigured its pages. Alfred Trego Butler (1880-1946), Windsor Herald, who had worked with Henry Farnham Burke since the age of seventeen, edited the Peerage in the 1920s, and Arthur Charles Fox-Davies (1871-1928) and Harry Pirie-Gordon (1883-1969) edited the 1914 and 1937 editions of the Landed Gentry respectively. In his 1914 Preface, Fox-Davies says that the responsibility for the accuracy of the pedigrees had shifted from the families concerned and 'gradually fastened upon the Editor'. He noted that his excisions had often met with disfavour but 'the desire to believe has led to the belief in some most unconscionable rubbish'.
In spite of the slow improvement, every time a new edition of the Peerage or Landed Gentry appeared, genealogists came forward to criticise some of the pedigrees. In 1940 Brigadier B. C. Trappes-Lomax made an onslaught on the 'Moonshine from Burke' that had appeared in the 1938 Peerage, cataloguing the absurdities that still remained in many entries. Even after the Second World War, when all Burke's office files and working papers were destroyed and the whole of the 1949 edition of the Peerage had to be newly set in type, the editor L. G. Pine, who claimed to have revised every genealogy in the light of modern criticism and had indeed vastly improved the text, did not seize the opportunity to remove all the remaining fictions, some of which had been exposed by Round more than half a century earlier.
The first of Sherwood's strictures about 'old genealogy' had concerned the heraldic stationery trade. A right to arms in England had been, at least since the sixteenth century, decisive outward evidence of gentility, regulated through the Court of Chivalry and the Heralds Visitations. But despite the Court and the Visitations many unlicensed herald painters invaded the heralds' territory to give out false arms and pedigrees. William Dawkyns, for example, a 'dealer in arms and maker of false pedigrees', was tried in 1597 for providing spurious pedigrees to nearly a hundred families, mainly in Essex, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, and was put in the pillory and had his ears cut off. The Visitations ceased with the Glorious Revolution in 1688 and the Court of Chivalry hardly functioned in the eighteenth century and so between 1670 and 1770 there was, in the words of Anthony Wagner, 'a breakdown in heraldic authority' when the great Whig lords had little or no interest in regulating the bearing of arms. In those years arms were widely assumed, mostly without ancestral right or new grant, by the new urban leisured classes and tradesmen who 'thought that their position required armorial pretension'. At Ipswich in 1727 an Irish dancing-master, Robert Harman, assumed the title and functions of a king of arms, and took large fees in so doing. Into the nineteenth century ideas of heraldic authority had little political backing and there was a widespread assumption of arms from the 50,000 listed by name in A complete body of heraldry (2 vols. 1780) compiled by the coach painter and herald Joseph Edmondson (died 1786) and then from its successor volumes: William Berry's Encyclopaedia heraldica; or complete dictionary of heraldry (4 vols. 1828), Thomas Robson's The British herald, or cabinet of armorial bearings of the nobility and gentry of Great Britain and Ireland (3 vols. 1830) and the Burke productions, The general armory (1842, 1844, 1847, 1878, 1884), each copying and expanding on the last until the 1884 edition contained about 100,000 references to arms by surname. True and false were inextricably mixed and all lacked references to sources.
Pirate 'Heraldic Offices' or heraldic stationers sprang up like wildfire, providing arms from these volumes to any interested person. The successors to William Dawkyns and Robert Harman were everywhere. Walter Rye wrote that they were to be avoided 'like poison'. One of them Thomas Culleton (died 1887, aged 63), a copper plate engraver and printer from Wexford, Ireland, called himself the Genealogist at the Royal Heraldic Office, 25 Cranbourn Street, and 21 Great Newport Street, London, W. C., and advertised in the first edition of Edward Walford's County Families (1860), 'Send Name and County, and in Three Days you will receive a Correct Copy of your ARMORIAL BEARINGS, Plain Sketch, 3s.; in Heraldic Colours, 6s. ... AN INDEX kept, containing the Names of all Persons who are entitled to use Arms, as copied from the College of Arms, British Museum, and other places of authority'. The sad truth, of course, is that not one in a thousand of the people who received these 'correct copies' would have had any right to use the arms provided. The brief outlines of family history which appeared in the early editions of Walford’s County Families were, as George Burnett wrote in 1865, ‘filled with matter so extraordinary that it is difficult to conceive from what source the writer could have collected it’.
Thomas Culleton claimed that his Heraldic Office had been founded in 1840 and his shop in Cranbourn Street certainly built up a considerable working library on every aspect of European genealogy and heraldry, with staff going out daily to work at the British Museum and Record Office and heraldic artists painting hatchments and coach panels. A very large collection of 'Research Notes on English Families' together with an index 'to certain selected groups of genealogical manuscripts in the British Museum', compiled by the firm, was microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah in 1959. Thomas's son Leo Culleton (1859-1922) was also an heraldic artist and a genealogist active across Europe. The firm flourished in King Street, St James, until 1935 when it was taken over by another old firm of heraldic stationers, Longman & Strongi'th'arm Ltd, which continued at 13 Dover Street, Piccadilly, until 1969.
Today the selling of 'arms of the name' is so widespread that it is almost pointless to rail against it, but a hundred years ago there were many like George Sherwood who thought the use of bogus arms on signet rings and writing paper and the stationers who provided them, a public disgrace. The problem was that genealogists could not agree amongst themselves, some saying that arms were ensigns of nobility, granted on ennoblement, which could not be adopted at will, whilst others argued that any man might adopt arms (without the intervention of the College of Arms) provided that they were not already in use by some other person. Bernard Burke's advertisement in the 1870s which asked for people to send in arms for his General Armory had not asked that any authority for the use of the arms or the date of their registration be quoted and Ashworth P. Burke's Family Records (1897) claimed that all the Arms shown were based on 'official authority' but in no case named the authority, it probably being thought that there would be a reluctance on the part of the families themselves, to say when their arms were first granted, if indeed that date were readily known.
The young lawyer Arthur Charles Fox-Davies, a grandson of John Fox, of Coalbrookdale, believed that in England arms should only be used by recipients of grants of arms from the College of Arms or by those whose ancestral right to arms had been recognised by the College. When twenty-two in 1893 he put out a prospectus for a book which was to publish ‘genuine and absolutely reliable information’ as to coats of arms ‘legitimately in use’ (and not, as he wrote in a further prospectus in 1894, the ‘bogus and maliciously corrupt insignia so often displayed’) and in 1895 he published the first of seven editions of Armorial Families in which the entries of those who could not provide evidence of their right to arms were printed in italics. These doubtful entries were removed from the 5th (1905) and subsequent editions, so that by his final 7th edition (2 vols. 1929-30), he could, with some truth, call it 'approximately complete' and say that 'there are few families [other than those of peers and baronets] entitled to arms, whose right has been proved in sufficiently modern times to place it beyond reasonable doubt, that are now omitted'. It was an approach which tended to give equal status to both old and new arms and on that and other accounts, in particular the weaknesses of Fox-Davies’s Complete Guide to Heraldry (1909), he was viciously ridiculed by Horace Round who thought all modern heraldry an absurd anomaly and who with Oswald Barron poured scorn on Fox-Davies’s and William Phillimore’s contention that heraldry was ’a living science’. Round went so far as to say that ‘a grant of arms is of no account because nobody values what ‘anyone’ can obtain’, quoting with approval a remark of A. S. Ellis that ‘Tudor Heraldry is mostly rubbish and Modern Heraldry beneath contempt’.
Fox-Davies’ death at the age of 57 in 1928 unfortunately brought an end to a very fine series of books and no further editions were produced. An obituary in The Times said that, 'It was for him not merely a labour of love, but an exciting form of sport, to hunt down and kill some picturesque dragon of genealogical imposture, to overthrow some cherished idol of family pride based on nothing more substantial than the vain imaginings of a recent ancestor or the artful tale of some flatterer possessed of a smattering of heraldry ... it was he who took the campaign against armorial pretence out of the austere pages of learned publications and brought it to the notice of the public at large'. He had, however, annoyed a great number of people. Later that year an anonymous writer in The Genealogists Magazine who had perhaps displayed such an 'armorial pretence' referred to 'the pretentious ignorance' displayed in Fox-Davies's books. The fierce arguments on the subject, at their height in 1900-4, have not altogether subsided in heraldic circles though Fox-Davies and William Phillimore have probably won the day.
Fortune seekers, next-of-kin agents, printed pedigrees
The last of Sherwood's strictures about 'old genealogy' had been 'the business of the shady character who ekes out a precarious existence on the reluctant half-crowns of deluded seekers after phantom fortunes'. Today 'next-of-kin' searching has become big business but in 1897 Walter Rye warned his readers against advertisements by which 'rogues try to rob poor people with specious tales of unclaimed stock', saying that, 'most of the statements they contain are absolute lies'. In his and his father's experiences, stretching back some sixty years, in which they had investigated many claims, not a single case had occurred from which anyone had in the least benefited. He gave an example of ‘the simple faith of a claimant’ in one Arthur Marsh, of Southampton, who had advertised for the address of the solicitor who held the property (now ‘in Chancery’) in Manchester and other places of one John Marsh, who had died about a hundred years previously, of which the Marsh family of Purbeck were believed to be the heirs. These types of claim had been questioned in the House of Commons in November 1888, when William Jackson, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, had said that the advertising agencies 'were simply misleading the public for the purpose of making profit for themselves and extracting money out of the pockets of poor persons'. 
It has been suggested that following the end of the State lottery in 1825 and before the arrival of football pools, the most likely path to sudden riches about which ordinary people might dream was inheritance from an unknown relative. English men (and widows and spinsters) have always had an unusual freedom in the disposal of their property by will and the nineteenth century novel regularly used unlikely inheritance or the sudden loss of 'expectations' as a theme. Samuel Warren in Ten thousand a year (1841), Charles Dickens in Bleak House (1852-3) and Little Dorrit (1855-7) and, later in the century, Wilkie Collins in a series of 'sensation' novels, are just a few of many examples. Claims to dormant peerages had been frequent in the 1830s, providing much work for the legal genealogists, and real life disputes about inheritance and estates were a commonplace, widely reported in the newspapers, the claims of Arthur Orton to be Roger Tichborne and of Annie Druce to be the Duchess of Portland, attracting worldwide attention. Both may, as has been said, have been 'striking proof of the unfathomable depths of human credulity' but other stories about destroyed or forged entries in parish registers as with the Richard Harrison case in 1886 already described, or bogus tombstones as with the Tracy peerage claim in 1847, together with some interminable legal cases as, for example, those amongst the heirs of William Jermy of Bayfield in Norfolk (died 1751) and of William Jennens (died 1798), continually raised speculation and false hopes.
The Bank of England had published lists of unclaimed dividends for many years before similar lists of money in Chancery were first published in 1855 and then advertised in the London Gazette, but from the late 1830s onwards a growing number of commercial 'next-of-kin agents' began publishing lists of names taken from the little known official publications and from advertisements in newspapers. An Irishman, Frederick Henry Dougal (died 1904, aged 54), of Merton Road, Wandsworth, took over such a firm that had been established in 1844, and became particularly well known for several editions of Dougal's Index Register of Next of Kin, Heirs at Law, and cases of Unclaimed Money Advertisements, the last appearing in 1910. A case at the Old Bailey in January 1887 showed that from his office in the Strand he asked 1s 6d for the book and then £1 for a full copy of the advertisement mentioned. It seems likely that Edmund Robertson had Dougal’s agency in mind when he questioned William Jackson in the House of Commons in 1888. Dougal's 'next-of-kin' activities would have been known to George Sherwood with his office also in the Strand, but he may be better known today for his speculative purchase at auction of Aperfield Manor on part of Biggin Hill in Kent, and for the confusion that he later caused when he sold off the land in disorganised small plots in July 1895. Dougal was far from alone in the field. Robert Chambers and Edward Preston also produced lists over a long period and there were many others. The newspaper News of the World published a 214-page Missing Heirs and Next-of-Kin in 1911.
The extent to which some genealogists hyped up and orchestrated stories of unclaimed funds in order to extract money from prospective claimants, particularly those overseas, is uncertain, but these ‘shady characters’, as Sherwood called them, were not in short supply. The well-known James Coleman (died 1906, aged 88), for many years a dealer in documents, certainly did everything possible to publicise the so-called Jennens fortune for his own commercial advantage. Coleman, from Gloucestershire, was the son of a smith and had been a toolmaker in London since at least his first marriage in 1841 (when his wife was unable to sign her name). In 1851 he employed two young men in that trade but by 1861 he had set himself up as a genealogist and bookseller at 22 High Street, St Giles in the Fields, near the British Museum, starting an extensive trade in documents of every description which continued until his death in 1906, though he had moved out to 9 Tottenham Terrace, White Hart Lane, in the late 1870s. He was particularly well known for the pioneering and regular catalogue which he and his immediate successors published and George Sherwood later recalled the delight with which each issue was received, ‘notwithstanding the extraordinary blunders and misprints which often marred them’. The Society of Genealogists has a long, but not entirely complete, run bound in nine volumes, 1859-1911.
Coleman must have seen that another aspiring genealogist, Charles Bridger (1824-1879), of Witley in Surrey (the son of a draper formerly in Godalming High Street), had in the autumn of 1863 announced his intention to publish a bibliography of heraldry and genealogy and that he had, the following spring, also promised in Notes & Queries and in the Herald and Genealogist, to add to the bibliography an index to the pedigrees in county histories and other topographical works. Coleman realised how such a list could be exploited commercially and, not waiting for Bridger, rushed out Coleman's general index to printed pedigrees which are to be found in all the principal county and local histories & in many privately printed genealogies (1866), advertising in the book that he could provide copies of any pedigree listed, up to six generations, for five shillings plus six pence for each additional generation. The thwarted Charles Bridger then produced his An index to printed pedigrees contained in county and local histories, the heralds' visitations, and in the more important genealogical collections (1867; 10s 6d) containing 16,000 references and complaining in his Preface about the 'hastily prepared compilation of a similar nature' which had meanwhile appeared. Bridger's projected bibliography, however, never saw publication. About this time he worked with a bank employee, Stephen Tucker (1835-1887), for Arthur Orton the ‘Tichborne Claimant’ whose case collapsed in 1872 and who was committed for perjury in 1874. When Tucker was appointed Rouge Croix at the College of Arms in 1872 he employed Bridger as a research assistant in his growing genealogical practice. The 1871 Census shows him at a St Pancras lodging house, 'Geologist' (sic). Nine volumes of wills that Bridger had abstracted were purchased by the College of Arms in 1887.
Bridger may have been put off publication of his projected works in 1863 by the publication that year by the industrious but extremely unpleasant John Camden Hotten (1832-1873) of A hand-book to the topography and family history of England and Wales: being a descriptive account of twenty thousand most curious and rare books (1863) which the Dictionary of National Biography calls his 'most laborious and least-known compilation'. It was in fact a misleading title for a 368-page catalogue of 7,659 items which were for sale in Hotten’s shop in Piccadilly. Hotten, the son of a carpenter and undertaker in Clerkenwell, had been apprenticed to an antiquarian bookseller in Chancery Lane but left for a spell as a journalist in America. Returning about 1853 and starting a bookselling and publishing business he acquired a fortune and an extremely unpleasant reputation as a purveyor of pornography (publishing books on phallic worship, aphrodisiacs, flagellation, etc.) as well as for his dubious deals and violent arguments, though his name is best known to genealogists as the compiler of the first list of emigrants to America which was published after his death (mentioned below). With his interest in illustrated books, historical facsimiles and popular antiquarian history, Hotten was well aware of the growing interest in genealogy and heraldry on both sides of the Atlantic and developed some skill in the use of material at the Public Record Office, undertaking genealogical research there as well as sometimes seeking out original documents for purchase which might be of interest to his clients or offering to obtain for them Grants of Arms from the College of Arms on a ten per cent commission basis. As Professor Simon Eliot says, Hotten not only provided comforting pedigrees for the socially uncertain or the defensively snobbish but he went on to serve snobbery and historical curiosity by offering ‘one comprehensive service, from the armorial cradle, as it were, to the gilded grave’.
Hotten’s genealogical service began to form a significant part of his business and shortly after his death in 1873 his former chief clerk, Andrew Chatto, who had purchased the firm, in conjunction with a New York publisher, James W. Bouton, put out a prospectus for the ‘St James Heraldic Office’ under the management of the young Edward Albert Harrison (1843-1891) who had formerly managed Hotten’s Heraldic Department. Harrison was basically an heraldic artist, but he was also the son of Arthur Prichard Harrison (died 1861) another heraldic artist who from 1830 onwards had published facsimiles of documents such as Magna Carta and the Rolls of Battle Abbey and Caerlaverock illustrated with arms. In 1852 Harrison senior had notably assisted the well-known dramatist and antiquary James Robinson Planché (1796-1880) with the numerous illustrations in his The Pursuivant of Arms: or Heraldry founded upon Facts.
James Coleman did not have all the market in old documents and a rival whose catalogues also contained short summaries of the material for sale, was Henry Gray (1850-1925). He was born at Rawtenstall in Lancashire and in 1881 was at 10 Maple Street, Cheetham, describing himself as an antiquarian bookseller, but by 1891 he had moved south to 39 Craven Park, Harlesden, and had a shop in Leicester Square. By 1901, with the assistance of his two daughters, he was running a 'Genealogical Record Office' at Goldsmiths' Estate, East Acton. He produced book bulletins yearly from at least 1899 to 1903 containing genealogy, topographical views, portraits and manuscripts, and at least one was later indexed into the Great Card Index of the Society of Genealogists.
Bridger and Coleman were not the only ones to see the value of the lists they compiled and the young barrister George William Marshall (1839-1905), the son of a banker with private means, had also meanwhile produced an 163-page Index to the pedigrees contained in the printed heralds' visitations (1866) which he saw as a companion volume to Sims's index to the manuscript ones published in 1849. His sales must have been affected by Bridger's book and the following year James Coleman, Bridger's rival, published a 70-page Catalogue of pedigrees hitherto unindexed (1867; 3s 6d) that Marshall seems to have compiled, though it does not bear his name.
James Coleman, who undertook general genealogical research as well as publishing and dealing in manuscripts, also had an eye to the American market and printed a Pedigree of William Penn (1871) as well as the registers of the chapel in Somerset House (1862) and part of the marriage registers of Whittlesey in Cambridgeshire (1880). Patrick Polden singles him out for criticism for his ruthless promotion of the Jennens claims which he must have known had no validity.
Another noteworthy firm of next-of-kin agents was founded by a Londoner, Constantine William De Bernardy (died 1886, aged 74), who in 1858 had published a 414-page De Bernardy's Index Register, for Next of Kin, Heirs at Law, Legatees, and of Unclaimed Property, in Great Britain, the Colonies, and on the Continent, from 1754 to 1856. He had a chequered career. When bankrupt in 1849 he was described as 'formerly of 46 Leicester Square, Middlesex, and of Putney, Surrey, and afterwards of Paris, France, but now of Rider's Hotel, Salisbury Square, Fleet Street, London, bill broker, money scrivener, commission agent, dealer and chapman'. In 1873 he published at Philadelphia, The American's Hand-Book to Vienna and the Exhibition.
Going beyond the mere publishing of lists and the provision of advertisements, C. W. De Bernardy and his sons, who continued the business, began themselves to search for the heirs to the larger properties and to attempt to come to some financial arrangement with them. They produced an 83-page De Bernardy's Unclaimed Money Register (1883), for which they charged a shilling, but warned off the smaller fortune hunters by saying, 'They are nearly always poor or ignorant people, who are dazzled by the prospect of becoming suddenly rich, and are lured on until the exhaustion of their means puts an end to the investigation. But the dream remains as vivid as ever'. Two of these sons, Alfred De Bernardy (died 1922) and Augustus Kemeys De Bernardy (died 1931), continued the business at 28 John Street and 25 Bedford Row, as the 'De Bernardy Brothers, Legal Genealogists and Agents', until 1900, but another son, Lucien De Bernardy (died 1946), had withdrawn from the firm in 1884. George Sherwood certainly knew Alfred De Bernardy as he contributed to the first issue of Sherwood's The Pedigree Register in June 1907. Sometime after 1900 De Bernardy had gone into partnership with the young Henry William Sayers (1876-1962) and the latter, who had married Annie Lydia Checcucci (1877-1962) in 1907, took over the firm completely in 1909. Henry and Annie Sayers continued as 'legal genealogists' for many years and are mentioned below for their connection with Pallot & Co.
The activities of genealogists who acted as unclaimed money agents and probate searchers, some of whom were quite unscrupulous, gave rise to much criticism and for a very long time almost every aspect of the business was considered highly disreputable, as George Sherwood believed. These 'heir locators', working secretly at great speed and speculatively behind the scenes, claimed to provide a public service by bringing possible claims to the attention of persons who would not otherwise know about them, but they provided an absolute minimum of information about a claim (for fear that the claimant would circumvent them by going directly to the source of the funds) and would only do so on the strict understanding that one entered into an agreement to pay the locator a percentage of the fund. In the 1950's we called such heir locators 'ten per centers' but even then the charge was more often thirty and is now often forty per cent plus costs plus VAT. Such 'contingency fee agreements' are frequently criticised and may be judged illegal (as champerty) if the locator agrees to finance a claimant's lawsuit in exchange for a portion of the amount involved.
In 1896 the De Bernardy Brothers came to an agreement with two beneficiaries of an estate about which they had obtained knowledge by which the two would pay the Brothers thirty per cent of anything recovered, but the De Bernardy Brothers had unwisely also agreed that they would take necessary steps to establish the claim, and the agreement was thus held to be void because it 'savoured of champerty'. The Brothers avoided this problem in future by agreeing only to furnish details in return for a share in the property and the court upheld such an agreement in 1908. The 1896 ruling was held to be still good law by the Irish Supreme Court in 2003.
The legal situation about ‘Unclaimed Monies’ was usefully set out by Malcolm Pinhorn in The Genealogist’s Magazine in 1959 and the activities of the various firms involved, whom some considered ‘not true genealogists’, were a constant source of enquiry at the Society of Genealogists. A report in the Daily Mail in 1971 said that most of the firms admitted to anything up to a fifty per cent failure rate in the location of heirs and it cited one case in which the balance of an estate of £6,000 had to be divided between eighty heirs after the cost of 180 certificates and sixty interviews, as well as the firm’s thirty per cent, had been deducted.
However, the growing number of intestacy cases worldwide since the Second World War has given work to many genealogists, some still working on a percentage basis, though today it is argued that personal representatives such as solicitors acting as executors and trustee departments should not use those who will only work on commission as they may be breaching their duty to the other beneficiaries. There are many genealogists who will gladly work on an hourly basis as I did when employed in such cases in the Research Department at the Society of Genealogists for many years and the firm Title Research (a firm which in 1994 had itself received unpleasant publicity when asking for 10% of a £3m estate) has recently launched a campaign against the preposterous fees charged by those working on commission. This campaign has received a good deal of support from solicitors and deserves more.
The early books on surnames were concerned almost exclusively with their meanings and thus although of interest to genealogists and often quoted were not in themselves of practical value in tracing the histories of the families mentioned. The derivations which they provided were often deeply suspect and occasionally little more than guesswork. There were many others, but into this category fall English surnames and their place in the Teutonic family (London and Carlisle, 1858) by Robert Ferguson, presumably by the man of that name who had written The Northmen in Cumberland and Westmorland (1856) and who wrote The Teutonic name-system applied to the family names of France, England and Germany (London and Carlisle, 1864) and Surnames as a science (1883; 1884); Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom (1860) and English Surnames: an essay on family nomenclature, historical, etymological and humorous (4th ed. 2 vols. 1875) by Mark Antony Lower (1813-1876), a Sussex schoolmaster, also known for his Worthies of Sussex (1865) and Compendious History of Sussex (1870); English Surnames: their sources and significations (1873) by Revd Charles Wareing Endell Bardsley (1844-1898), Vicar of Ulverston, which went through several editions until 1906, and his A dictionary of English and Welsh surnames, with special American instances (1901); British family names: their origins and meaning (2nd ed. 1903) by Henry Barber; Surnames of the United Kingdom (2 vols. 1912-18) by Henry Harrison; and A history of surnames of the British Isles (1931; additions, 1946) by Cecil Henry L’Estrange Ewen (1877-1949).
All these works concentrated on the meanings of the surnames but much genealogical work in the second half of the nineteenth century was centred on finding their distribution until Henry Brougham Guppy (1854-1926), a naval surgeon and botanist from Devon, compiled Homes of family names in Great Britain (1890), based on the listings of farmers in Kelly's county directories, farmers being 'the most stay-at-home class of the country'. Although the book's value was dismissed by Oswald Knapp in 1930, the editors of the Oxford Names Companion have recently concluded that 'over half the surnames in Britain still have a statistically significant association with a particular locality, despite all the scattering of population that has taken place since the Industrial Revolution began two hundred years ago'.
Catalogues of Printed Pedigrees
The appearance of George Marshall's early composite indexes to printed pedigrees which became so important as basic bibliographies of work that had already been carried out and had been published somewhere or other, has been mentioned, he commencing in 1866 with an index to the pedigrees in the printed heraldic visitations and in 1867 with a short additional catalogue, printed by Coleman. The first edition of his The genealogist's guide to printed pedigrees: being a general search through genealogical, topographical, and biographical works relating to the United Kingdom was published in 1879. It was revised in 1885 when the range of works indicated by the subtitle was extended to include family histories, peerage claims, etc., and again in 1893. A final edition, intended for Christmas 1902 was a little delayed and was eventually available for a guinea from the Piccadilly bookseller, Bernard Quaritch, in 1903. The book was, as Quaritch himself rightly said in a flyer, 'absolutely indispensable to every genealogist'. Marshall's searches were remarkably comprehensive, though, as he unkindly remarked in his Preface, unlike George Gatfield's Guide to printed books, they did not take such a low range as to include Frederic T. Hall's The pedigree of the devil (1883)!
The surname Hall would have been very familiar to George Marshall as he had married in 1867, Alice Ruth, the younger daughter of the Revd Ambrose William Hall and when she died in 1870 he married (illegally, of course) her elder sister Caroline Emily (died 1891). Marshall was the author of Notes on the surname of Hall (Exeter, 1887). The family would have been appalled when during the unrest in 1931 their nephew Anthony William Hall claimed the Crown and told rallies that he was 'one of the British people's natural leaders' being a direct descendant of Henry VIII; he hoped to be the first policeman to cut off the King's head! He was arrested for quarrelsome and scandalous language, fined, and not heard from again.
George William Marshall died in September 1905 and it seems that his fellow herald, Eric Geijer at the College of Arms, was intent on continuing his bibliographical work. In earlier years when George Sherwood had listed recently printed pedigrees in his Genealogical Queries and Memoranda there had been no objection to his doing so, but when in May 1907 Gerald Fothergill announced in N&Q that he was preparing a supplement to Marshall's Guide, objections about the copyright were immediately raised by Marshall's second son Isaac (1870-1916), a barrister. Marshall wrote that the book ‘was in the process of being kept up to date’ with a view to a new edition, but Fothergill was not put off and replied that he was merely collecting omissions from and additions to the published work.
All this did not deter the new Society of Genealogists in 1911 from setting up, and Gerald Fothergill from joining, a 'Committee on Cataloguing Pedigrees' which for a few years only collected references to supplement Marshall, its secretary being a Founder and Fellow, Campbell M. E. Wynne (died 1940). These brief references to the whereabouts of printed pedigrees sometimes proving unsatisfactory, in July 1912 his committee approved and printed a standard ‘Pedigree Analysis Form’ on which to summarise any available printed pedigree, sending sample copies to every member with the intention that the completed forms be filed in the Document Collection and indexed in the Consolidated Index. It was noted in December that the appeal had had ‘a gratifying response’ but in the year 1913 only eight books were completed though this was considered ‘good progress’. Geijer eventually handed his index references to John Beach Whitmore who, of course, had access to the Society’s collections, but as described below his supplement did not appear until half a century later.
It is interesting that Nichols should have thought it right that all genealogical business, 'ought to come to the hands of the professional Heralds'. He had no particular axe to grind on that score and was not himself a member of the College of Arms. One wonders how many others thought in those terms.
Towards the end of the century Walter Rye provided a list of a dozen or so record agents and document transcribers then working at the Public Record Office of whom three or four were solicitors who would gather material for a 'record' case, and four or five were women. He noted that their charges varied greatly and warned that the younger men who worked at a lower rate would take longer in their searches because they lacked the experience that would enable them to go straight to the records required. An indexer charged 7s 6d and upwards for a thousand references. Plain copies of documents, when the client supplied the references, were charged at 6d per folio of seventy-two words before 1600, and 4d per folio after that date.
To the names of those mentioned elsewhere, Rye added in 1888 and in 1897 those of A. F. Heintz and W. Boyd and, in 1881 only, W. H. Hart of Hammersmith. Arthur Frederick Heintz (1854-1932) was the son of an average adjustor in Hampstead. He was a clerk in Ealing in 1881, a record agent in Paddington in 1891, a record agent and translator of ancient records at Reigate, Surrey in 1901 and a translator of ancient records at Sidcup, Kent in 1911. He died at Sydenham in 1932 leaving £160-9-11.
William Boyd was more frequently known as William Keown-Boyd and was the third son of a former M. P. for Downpatrick in Ireland. He acted as a record agent in Chelsea in 1891 and was at Archway Road, Highgate in 1911, working at the Record Office. At his death, aged 85, at Upholland Vicarage in 1938 he was described as a well-known historian. He had edited the diary of Mr Justice Rokeby in 1887 and helped with the volumes of the Calendar of State Papers relating to Scotland. There are nine files of his notes at the National Archives. It may be noted that the majority of the private work and correspondence of similar agents has not survived, some record agents like Helen Thacker sending their original notes to their clients ‘to save errors in transcription’ as she would say.
William Henry Hart (1828-1888) was the son of a prosperous gunpowder maker at Deptford and trained as a solicitor but in 1852 he was one of the first searchers to be granted free access to do local research at the Public Record Office. He then became a record agent but in 1855 joined the Office as a clerk. In 1857 he was involved in an elaborate jape at a fellow clerk which was much disapproved of and in 1862 he requested leave to take a degree but was refused and given the task of editing the cartulary of St Peter, Gloucester for the Rolls Series. He resigned in 1869 and acted as a record agent in Kensington, but then over-actively canvassed for re-employment until reluctantly re-engaged on the cartulary of Romsey Abbey for the Rolls Series in 1882. He had become a Roman Catholic and in 1879 had married an actress less than half his age. His work did not go well and having broken his arm in a carriage accident and sustained losses from fraud at his bank, he died suddenly in 1888.
Of the women named by Walter Rye, he warmly recommended Miss Walford. She was at 7 Hyde Park Mansions, Edgware Road, in 1888 and at 46 Great Coram Street in 1897, and he described her as 'probably the most accurate and rapid transcriber in the room'. This was Emma Mary Walford (1853-1907) who lodged at Great Coram Street in 1891 and described herself as a ‘literary author’ in 1901. She was a daughter of the thrice-married barrister Cornelius Walford, of Witham, Essex, and Enfield, Middlesex, a prolific writer on insurance and other matters and a relative of the compiler Edward Walford.
The other women named by Rye in 1888 and 1897 were Miss Rita Fox, Miss Collier, Mrs F. Grigson, Miss Hopper and Miss L. Toulmin Smith. Rita Fox, named only in 1888, was then at 1 Capel Terrace, Forest Gate. She had been born about 1866-7 the last of nine children of a dental surgeon, Charles James Fox, who died in 1869, and although described as living on her own means in 1891 she had presumably been obliged to help her widowed mother who died in 1890. She contributed on various subjects to Notes and Queries between 1887 and 1899 and was a subscriber (from 64 Watling Street, E.C.) to the British Record Society in 1898, but any later involvement in record searching has not been found. She seems to have married Joseph Walter Russell, much her senior, in 1903 and to have died in London in 1930.
Rye gives Miss Collier’s address in both years as 83 Charterhouse Street and she must be related to William Walter Collier (1848-1898) who for many years kept a coffeehouse at 83-85 Charterhouse Street facing Smithfield meat market. He was born at Coventry, married three times, became a Freeman of the City in 1881 and went bankrupt in 1886, but who ‘Miss Collier’ was is not clear unless this is his eldest child, Ellen Eliza, born in 1868, but she had married at Stroud Green in 1890. Rye had classed her merely as a transcriber in 1888.
Mrs F. Grigson of 45 Alma Square, St John’s Wood, is evidently Anna (nee Allsebrook) the widow of Francis Grigson (1852-1886). He was a son of the Revd William Grigson, Rector of Whinburgh, Norfolk, and before his early death at Alma Square in 1886 he had described himself as a ‘professional antiquarian’ though when eighteen in 1871 he was a clerk to a wine merchant at Thetford. She was the daughter of a prosperous master tanner at Worthing, Norfolk, but just prior to her marriage in 1881 was a ‘lady companion’ at Clapham. Perhaps Rye’s information was a little out of date for she seems to have left England before 1891 and by 1911 was living at Durban, Natal.
Miss Hopper’s address is given by Rye as 9 Cato Road, Brixton, in 1888 (when she was classed as a transcriber), and as 22 Plater Road, Brixton, in 1897, evidently mistakes for 22 Plato Road, and the home from at least 1881 of Helen (died 1916, aged 91), the widow of Clarence Hopper (1817-1868), a palaeographer and antiquary originally from Savernake in Wiltshire whose genealogical collections are in the British Library and who collected transcripts of records for a history of the Channel Islands. His edition of the London Chronicle during the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII was published by the Camden Society in 1859. Helen is described in the census as living on her own means but the occupations of her daughters are not given.
Lucy Toulmin Smith (1838-1911) was a daughter of the constitutional lawyer Joshua Toulmin Smith (1816-1869) and both find a place in the Dictionary of National Biography. Her first major work in original records was the finishing of her father’s English Gilds (1870) and was followed by several volumes for the Camden Society and the New Shakspere Society, and then the editing of Leland’s Itinerary (5 vols. 1906-10). She had been concerned that her name should not ‘go with every Tom, Dick & Harry’ and in 1894 she had moved to Oxford to take up the post of librarian at Manchester College, so she does not appear in the second edition of Rye’s book.
Rye’s information is sometimes a little out of date but the uncertain amount of work coming to some of these ladies is clear. Another searcher of the period who appears in the census as merely living on her own means, was Vernona Thomas Christian Smith (nee Torry; died 1902, aged 73) who lived at Barnes and was the Scottish born widow of a Royal Navy officer Richard Sidney Smith (died 1880) who had served in the West Indies. She herself had Barbadian ancestry and somehow she met and worked for some years (as the great bulk of her surviving manuscripts, mentioned below, testifies) for Vere Langford Oliver (1861-1942), of Weymouth, the compiler of a magnificent History of Antigua (1894) and later the editor from 1909 of the journal Caribbeana. By the end of the century the more commercially organised record agents Ethel Stokes and Mary Louise Cox (described later) had become active but the majority of such agents remained, and perhaps still remain, largely without advanced education or specialised training. In 1897 Rye issued an explicit warning to gullible rich Armericans ‘in their anxiety for pedigrees’ against the activities of some unscrupulous advertising record agents.
There were a very few women local historians in the provinces but better known in London was the group of scholarly women that developed at the end of the nineteenth century, centred at the Public Record Office and British Library, and mostly involved in transcribing documents and writing parish histories for the Victoria County History (VCH) which commenced publication in 1899. Five years later the Secretary to the Public Record Office deemed the VCH’s numerous women searchers there ‘a great inconvenience to the general public’. In 1905 there were twenty-two of them and Horace Round wrote disparagingly to the VCH’s general editor, ‘I would like to teach your 22 girls some topography, were it not that, I reckon, as we say in Essex, “they’re wunnerful plain”’. Two years later he again wrote ‘plain, plodding work that is all that you can expect from the girls’. These ‘girls’ did their hack work mainly from printed calendars and manuscript lists in London and were not expected to visit the parishes and unpleasant Round, though a tireless promoter of the VCH, could thus sneer at a system of which he disapproved by saying of someone like the competent Norah Niemeyer, subsequently a lecturer at Goldsmith’s College, that her draft parish histories ‘might have been written in Berlin with the aid of a map’.
Fifteen of these young ladies were involved in the writing of the four VCH volumes for Hertfordshire (1902-14), the first county to be completed, mostly in connection with the general descriptions of parishes and the manorial descents. Two of them had university degrees, two had the History Tripos and two had been through the Oxford Honours School of Modern History; none were married. They included Lilian Redstone (1885-1955) of Woodbridge, ‘record agent own account’ in 1911, who also wrote accounts of some thirty-three parishes in Suffolk that were never published and who much later founded the record offices of West and East Suffolk. Others involved in the Hertfordshire volumes included Olive Moger (1880-1961) who in 1911 said that she was a ‘Topographer’ for the VCH and was later well-known for her record agency work in Devonshire (compiling 22 valuable volumes of abstracts of the Devonshire wills the originals of which were later destroyed in the War), and Minnie Reddan (1870-1952), the daughter of a draper at Hampstead, who in 1911 gave no occupation at all, although she had contributed the large sections on religious houses to the History. Eleanor J. B. Reid (1874-1954), one of the two graduates, was in 1911 a ‘Teacher & Historical Research Student’ and was the daughter of Sir Thomas Wemyss Reid, a well-known journalist and biographer.
Most of these ladies left the VCH during its financial difficulties in 1908 and although most had written accounts of the descents of manors for the History, none was involved in the foundation of the Society of Genealogists. When the Society was founded it came onto a scene that, from a professional point of view, was completely unregulated. The number of genealogists, record agents and record searchers who said that they were such in the 1911 census of England and Wales was sixty-two. There was some overlap in the three categories and several ‘record agents’ were actually gramophone record salesmen. The great majority were in the immediate London area but the few in other parts of the country were Raymond Tinne Berthon at Selsey, James Cronyn Burrows on the Isle of Wight, Robert Beilby Cook at York, Joseph Joshua Green at Hastings, David Henry Hartopp at Leicester, Arthur Hill in the New Forest, Frederic Johnson at Norwich, William Clement Kendall an ‘Artist & Genealogist’ at Kirkby Lonsdale and Philip Hugh Lawson an ‘Architect’s Assistant & Genealogist’ at Chester. Most were working on their own account but several record searchers (Henry Badger, Alfred Baker, Henry Greaves, Frederick William Ludwell and Thomas Henry Reeks) worked for the General Register Office. William Cartwright was a ‘Record Searcher (private enquiry agent)’. Kate Corner, Mary Salmon, Ethel Thompson and Frederick Walford were literary searchers, Herbert Sayers was a ‘Genealogist & Journalist’ and Percival Lucas an ‘Antiquarian Author & Record Agent’. Margaret Mackay mentioned publishing, George Minns literature and music. Kathleen Thompson said she worked at the Public Record Office and Edith Moodie worked for the ‘American Library and Literary Agency’. Leonard Barnard was a ‘Genealogist & Heraldic Draughtsman’. John Byron Davies was a genealogist aged 74, but two had retired (Harry Clench aged 67, William Selby aged 73) and Mary Louisa Brodnax (nee Dalton), born in Alabama in 1836, had come as a genealogist from Manhattan to work in the Library at the British Museum and was staying in a hotel in Bedford Place. The youngest, Harry Edward Lloyd, aged 14, the son of a compositor at Tottenham, was a ‘Genealogist’s Office Boy’. The remainder described themselves simply as genealogists (twenty altogether, three with private means) or record agents and searchers. Of the sixty-two only sixteen were women and only eight had joined the newly formed Society of Genealogists when the membership list was printed in 1913; they were James Burrows of Bushey, Gerald Fothergill of Wandsworth, William Clement Kendall of Lancaster, Ernest Kirk in Chancery Lane, Philip Lawson of Chester, George Minns of Norwich, Edgar Powell of Reading and George Sherwood of Brockley.
A record searcher in the London area who seems to have led something of a double life was John Robert Hutchinson (1858-1924), named below for his work on migrants, but who was also the author of several adventure books for boys. He had been born in Nova Scotia and married there in 1878, having a son in 1881. The family lived for a time in India but he deserted his wife and child in 1890. At Camberwell in 1891, ‘author’, he was seemingly living with a young woman and their three month old daughter, but in 1895 he married as a bachelor at Pancras Register Office one Mary Blanche Shelley by whom he had four children. They were at Clacton, Essex, in 1901 when he said that he was a bookseller and born at Hull, but she divorced him for adultery and cruelty in 1909-10. She said then that he had a place of business at 11 Clifford’s Inn off Fleet Street. By the time of the 1911 census she was with the children at Hammersmith and working as a record agent; she died in 1929. He had quickly married again at Croydon in 1910 and then moved to Joy Street, Barnstaple, Devon, where he traded as a ‘polished and genial’ bookseller until his death in 1924. One of his children had been born at Southwold, Suffolk, in 1897, and perhaps whilst in that area he had compiled two large typed volumes of ‘East Anglian Marriages’ (containing about 30,000 entries) which the Society of Genealogists bought in 1919, George Sherwood noting that they came from J. R. Hutchinson of Clifford’s Inn. Other Suffolk material acquired at that time may have come from the same source.
One record searcher who escaped the 1911 statistics by describing himself as a ‘Writer for the Press & Record Searcher’ was Robert Westland Marston, the son of Charles Henry Marston a physician, who was born at Devizes in 1866 and was at 37 Millman Street, Holborn, a journalist, in 1901. In 1911 he was boarding with a carpenter at 79 Wood Street, Barnet. Reginald Hine, the historian of Hitchin in Hertfordshire, wrote that Marston ‘could find everything I wanted’ but refused to meet him. Hine could not understand why until Marston was pointed out at the Record Office and Hine, who described him in detail but did not give his name, was mesmerised by ‘the ugliest man I have ever seen’. He lived in great poverty, giving the little he earned to the Children’s Hospital, and died at Croydon in 1930. George Sherwood remembered seeing him last in May 1914 when he was apparently caring for an older woman, perhaps his sister Selina.
Although some of the Society’s founders recognised the need for a list of recommended searchers other than that provided by the Public Record Office, it was a long time before a regularly produced list emerged, though the membership list printed in the Society’s Annual Report for 1912 has fourteen persons marked as undertaking professional research. None were women.
The first textbook on the subject, Stacey Grimaldi's expensive but wide-ranging 342-page Origines Genealogicae (1828) has been mentioned. It was basically a collection of references to evidences for proving pedigrees and as the title page says, was 'Published expressly for the assistance of claimants to hereditary titles, honours, or estates'. Some 250 copies were printed and it sold for three guineas. Each record group dealt with was followed by a note on its ‘Genealogical Utility’ with examples of use in previous claims.
In the 1850s Richard Sims, working in the Department of Manuscripts at the British Museum saw a need for a book with a wider approach. As he wrote in his Preface, 'the knowledge of what had already been done for Genealogy might be more diffused; the riches of the valuable libraries in different parts of the kingdom rendered more available; and the students' labours greatly lightened, by a judicious concentration of memoranda, drawn from the best sources, and accompanied by carefully selected lists of books of reference'. It was fitting that he should dedicate his work to Grimaldi on whose 'legal and antiquarian' knowledge he had extensively drawn but his resulting work, known to many as 'Sims' Manual', aimed at the wider market, shows a remarkable and detailed awareness of the sources available at that time.
George 'Richard' Sims (1816-1898) was born at Abingdon, the son of an accountant at Wadham College, Oxford, and had been appointed to the staff of the British Museum Library in May 1841. He married at Paddington in 1846 and the couple lived close by the Museum but they had no children. Richard Sims had mastered several languages, ancient and modern, and was an expert palaeographer. In response to the growing number of genealogical enquiries received in the Department of Manuscripts he produced in 1849 the standard An index to pedigrees and arms contained in the heralds' visitations and other genealogical manuscripts in the British Museum and then compiled a Handbook to the library of the British Museum, &c, with some account of the principal libraries in London (1854). Two years later the bookseller John Russell Smith in Soho Square published the first edition of Sims's A manual for the genealogist, topographer, antiquary, and legal professor, consisting of descriptions of public records; parochial and other registers; wills, county and family histories; heraldic collections in public libraries, etc. etc. (1856), a second edition of which in over 500 pages, at fifteen shillings, came out in 1861 and another in 1888. Sims was described by a colleague in the Library as 'a living index to the treasures around him' whose industry and intelligence made him 'one of the most useful members of the Museum Staff'. He has since gained some note because he considered the damaging letters of Madame Blavatsky (the founder of the Theosophical Society) to the Coulombs genuine. He worked at the Library until he retired to live at Oxford in 1887.
One should perhaps mention here the remarkable compilation by George Gatfield (1832-1901) of a 646-page Guide to printed books and manuscripts relating to English and foreign heraldry and genealogy being a classified catalogue of works of those branches of literature (1892) with large sections by surname and on overseas countries, presumably all taken directly from the Library catalogue of the British Museum where he too had been an attendant since at least 1861. He was the son of a blacksmith at Hanworth in Middlesex and his son Charles later worked at the Public Record Office.
A solicitor-antiquary with a brilliant mind was William Phillimore Watts Phillimore (1853-1913), the son of the superintendent of a lunatic asylum at Nottingham who had, perhaps not surprisingly, changed his name from Dr Stiff to Dr Phillimore in 1873. Phillimore had published his first book on the church bells of Nottinghamshire whilst a student at Oxford and left the university with degrees in jurisprudence and civil law but devoted his life to genealogy and the preservation of records. He was greatly influenced by Francis Galton's Hereditary Genius (1869) and believed firmly in an aristocracy of blood or race, as his influential and popular How to write the history of a family (1887, 1888 and 1900) makes clear. Phillimore's book, however, took a quite different approach from that of other manuals, dealing perhaps for the first time with questions of the meaning, relative frequency and distribution of surnames, the layout of the proposed book and its pedigrees (citing good American examples), typography and illustrations, and discussing portraiture and, as a committed eugenicist, anthropometry, recommending the regular measurement and photography (both full and side views!) of all ones family members. Phillimore also laid great stress on 'the duty of giving proof for every assertion made'. Lack of attention to this point, he says, had brought discredit to the study and it was now recognised that an inaccurate pedigree or one falsely seeking, as he put it, to join 'new men to old acres', only brought a family into contempt. His passionate interest is shown in his comment, ‘Monuments and tombstones perish, but he who has written and printed a truthful history of his ancestors has raised for them a memorial more lasting than brass or stone’.
In 1888, Phillimore, way ahead of his time, commenced a campaign for the creation of local authority record offices in each county or group of counties, into which parish registers, probate and ‘all provincial public records’ more than 50-60 years old might be deposited. He wrote at length to The Times in October 1888 suggesting that such an office should be styled 'The County Record Office' and made subject to the supervision of travelling record-inspectors from the Public Record Office. He was entirely against the centralised deposit of such material in London though ‘by a limited number of students it might be highly appreciated’. 
In 1896-7 he had played a prominent part in unmasking the 'Great Shipway Pedigree Fraud' in which many records, including parish registers and wills, had been tampered with by a bogus 'Dr' Herbert Davies and in 1898 he published an account of Davies's subsequent trial and conviction for it had, as he wrote, 'so important a bearing upon the safe custody of parish registers, wills and other public documents'. He used the story to show that 'our records are mostly in a very inefficient custody' and to again urge the foundation of county record offices.
Herbert Davies, without any particular antiquarian knowledge and quite unused to genealogical investigation had, at the age of 22 in 1895, been recommended to Colonel Robert Shipway (1841-1928), of Grove House, Chiswick, for the purpose of some ancestral research in Gloucestershire. Davies, calling himself a doctor and using an Oxford degree that had been awarded to another of the name, claimed to have studied medicine at Heidelberg but apparently left without taking a degree. Engaged by Shipway for six shillings a day plus expenses, Davies immediately embarked on an elaborate and lengthy scheme of imposture, providing an old silver watch falsely engraved which he said had belonged to the Shipway family and then an armorial seal with a similar story ‘verified’ with a bogus statutory declaration. He gained access to the Mangotsfield parish registers (improperly kept in the vicarage and on one occasion left open in the sun) and interpolated therein six Shipway entries, one a burial in 1625 mentioning the same arms. He excavated the churchyard and finding a lead coffin had it engraved with the name Shipway. During its removal a labourer was injured and shortly afterwards died. He carried out a similar excavation inside the church and finding two effigies identified them (on a screen with appropriate brass plates) as relating to Shipway ancestors, placing the name also on a shield from the Blount family monument, carving it into a beam in the belfry, and having Shipway initials engraved on the hasp of an old church chest which he induced the vicar to give to the Colonel. The herald Arthur Scott Gatty then told Colonel Shipway that he could find no record of any Shipway arms at the College of Arms and that further sources such as wills should be consulted. Davies thereupon turned his attention to the wills at Gloucester. There he was able to remove a will of 1547, clean off much of its surface and use the parchment to give new wording which included mention of a grant of Shipway arms in 1192 (sic!) and then to replace it in the files at the Probate Registry. In the Registry at Hereford he inserted a spurious will of 1524 and at that at Worcester he inserted spurious wills for 1490 and 1537. All the wills gave most extraordinary details of the family and all were verified with certificates provided by the office officials. Colonel Shipway’s solicitors were informed at each step of the search but raised no queries. However, the Colonel, pleased with his new found ancestry (which had cost him £683 in fees and expenses), showed the wills to William Phillimore, a neighbour at Chiswick. The latter went quickly to inspect the originals and the registers and found his suspicions well confirmed. However, the Colonel’s solicitors, having received a favourable report on Davies’s work from Francis Bridges Bickley (1851-1905) an Assistant in the Department of Manuscripts at the British Museum, raised strong objections to Phillimore’s conclusions and the latter was obliged to take up the matter with the President of the Probate Division, Sir Francis Jeune. Following detailed enquiries, the Director of Public Prosecutions took action in September 1897 and the case went to the Old Bailey where Davies pleaded guilty to obtaining money by false pretences and on 23 November 1898 was sentenced to three years penal servitude. Two days into the preliminary hearing and describing himself as a doctor of medicine Davies had married Linda Camilla Payne at Christchurch. In 1901 he was a Private in the Royal Army Medical Corps but by 1911 he was a draper’s manager in Brixton where he lived until after his wife’s death in 1918. Their only child, Kenneth, born in June 1898, served for a time as a surgeon at Guy’s Hospital.
Almost every aspect of this extraordinary case had caused Phillimore concern and his account spares none of the parties involved. The unfortunate Colonel Shipway had been reluctant to be involved in legal action and, it was said, ‘cut an undeniably comic figure in the hands of the suburban doctor’. The Pall Mall Gazette thought that he might ‘console himself with the reflection that many lineages provided for brand-new notabilities are quite as dubious’ as the ‘silly mistakes’ perpetrated by Davies, ‘a quarter-educated scoundrel’.
Others took Phillimore’s concerns and ideas about county record offices much more seriously and they were strongly supported by the Congress of Archaeological Societies. In July 1899 the Congress resolved to ask the Government to appoint a Royal Commission to look into the matter and a strong group of concerned people, including Viscount Dillon, President of the Society of Antquaries, the Duke of Northumberland, the bishops of London and Oxford, Sir Henry Howorth, Horace Round, Laurence Gomme, Edward Alexander Fry and William Phillimore, agreed to form a deputation to the Prime Minister, but the latter was ‘unable to receive’ them and the Congress’s Report was referred instead to a Committee on the Preservation of Local Records appointed by the Treasury.
The Report, which had been adopted at a Special Congress held on 28 March 1900 and confirmed at the Annual Congress of the forty societies in union held at Burlington House on 11 July 1900 under the Presidency of the industrialist and archaeologist, Sir John Evans (1823-1908), recommended that legislation be passed to allow, but not compel, the deposit in county record offices of parish registers and other ecclesiastical records, the acceptance therein of court rolls and other papers in private custody and the making of the records available for inspection by students. It thought that the PRO should also unload on local county record offices 'all such documents now in the Public Record Office as in the opinion of the Office ought to be preserved in the localities to which they refer' and that it was 'of the utmost importance that none but properly qualified custodians should be appointed'. It also thought that it would be most undesirable for these offices to have any connection with public libraries, for 'the most competent of Librarians may not necessarily possess the qualifications of a custodian of Records'.
The only 'local' record office in existence at this time was the Guildhall Library in London which in 1899 had begun to take in the vestry minute books and churchwardens' accounts of various City parishes (but not the parish registers) as a result of a circular letter addressed to the Vestries by the brush maker and amateur historian James George White (1837-1906), then Deputy of the Ward of Walbrook to the Court of Common Council. After the 1900 Conference its President, Sir John Evans, who was also Chairman of the local Records Committee for Hertfordshire returned to the County and built an air conditioned repository to house its records (costing £1,016), which opened in 1909. These were important developments along a most tortuous path.
Phillimore’s views were not shared by all genealogists and in 1911 George Sherwood wrote, when remarking on the sale of a further batch of the manuscripts collected by Sir Thomas Phillipps, ‘We do not altogether share the generally expressed opinion that such manuscripts should be all stored away in public libraries. It is better that the originals should be studied, used, enjoyed and passed from hand to hand, but we think that the information they contain should be preserved in print. Let our museums cease to buy, and spend the money instead in printing, cataloguing and indexing; they are crammed already with material more or less inaccessible, and which is, in consequence, imperfectly studied, used or understood’.
Phillimore was, in fact, doing more than his fair share of this work. In 1888 he sought for the first time to provide, not full transcripts, but printed indexes to a variety of public records, issuing monthly instalments of several indexes at once, in a series called the Index Library. In this he had the active co-operation of Walford Selby, the respected superintendent of the Literary Search room at the PRO who was also editor of The Genealogist, and the financial backing of a legal publisher, Charles Clark. After Selby’s untimely death in 1889, Phillimore, in order to secure a stable number of subscribers, was instrumental in forming the British Record Society to carry the Index Library forward, becoming its first Secretary and remaining General Editor of its publications until 1893.
Phillimore also initiated the Scottish Record Series in 1896, the Thoroton Society in 1897, and the Canterbury and York Society in 1904. However, he is undoubtedly best known to genealogists for the great series of printed marriage registers, produced by the firm he founded in Chancery Lane, Phillimore & Co, which from 1897 issued in some counties, with much voluntary assistance, two volumes yearly. One hundred and fifty copies of each were usually printed to sell at 10s 6d each.
Phillimore himself was not altogether a sympathetic character. Although a keen cyclist he has been described as 'a cadaverous figure, six feet of skin and bone with long hair, a long forked beard and heavy lidded myopic eyes; a strict vegetarian and teetotaller'. He was a prodigious writer, producing in addition to the above books, several family histories and other works including, with Edward Alexander Fry, the standard An index to changes of name, 1760 to 1901 (1905). In 1900 he wrote a brief handbook with basic information for beginners, Pedigree Work (1900), costing a shilling, which was revised by Thomas Blagg in 1914 and then again by Bower Marsh for publication in 1936 (3s 6d). Phillimore died at Torquay in 1913; his will expressed a sadly unrealised hope that his only son would preserve his papers. Unknown to him the first county record office was being established that year at Bedford.
Another solicitor-antiquary Walter Rye (1843-1929), already mentioned for his outspoken views on the deposit of early parish registers, was the son of a Chelsea solicitor and himself pursued a legal career (commencing in his father's office at the age of fourteen) in Wandsworth, Croydon and Putney before moving in 1900 to Norwich where he was Mayor in 1908. He was a prolific and indefatigable writer (of some 152 articles and 117 pamphlets and books) and a collector of Norfolk items, who after working for twenty-five years in London archives, wrote Records and record searching (1888; 2nd ed. 1897), the first edition of which came out in the same year as Phillimore's How to write the history of a family. No two books on the same subject could be more dissimilar. It has been said that Rye was 'a long-distance runner, which perhaps accounts for his haste, and a controversialist, that perhaps accounts for his inaccuracies' but his poorly organised work contains much useful matter as well as several asides that will have caused great annoyance to some of his contemporaries. However, the book shows that Rye, who did not work as a record agent but was a full-time solicitor whose research took him frequently to the archives, knew well the practical problems involved and noted, for instance, that the early closing (at 2 pm) on Saturdays at the Public Record Office 'is very hard on those who are engaged all the week, and whose only spare time is the Saturday half-holiday', a complaint that was heard for many more years yet to come.
Walter Rye's book, like that by William Phillimore, gives several credits for assistance to Edward Alexander Mercy Fry (1853-1934), then of Edgbaston, already mentioned as the Secretary of the newly formed Parish Register Society and particularly active as the secretary of the British Record Society. For the latter Society's Index Library Fry edited some nineteen volumes between 1896 and 1915. He is described in the census returns, 1881-1901, as a Brazilian merchant but he can have had little time for his business. In 1901 he edited a volume of Wiltshire inquisitions post mortem with George Samuel Fry, CBE (1853-1938), latterly of Hove, who worked at the Board of Trade. There does not seem to be any reason for supposing that they were closely related. George Fry also edited three other Index Library volumes and is known for his calendars and abstracts of Dorset wills and a large collection of Fry family material at the Society of Genealogists of which he was an early, though not founder, member.
James 'Henry' Lea (1846-1914) of Freeport, Maine, mentioned below, was one of the American researchers sponsored to work in England by the New England Society. In 1904 he had compiled Abstracts of wills, Register 'Soame', 1620 and two years later he produced Genealogical research in England, Scotland and Ireland: a handbook for the student (1906). The short book, drafts of which had earlier appeared in The New England Register, was aimed mainly at the American market, detailing a search for emigrant origins through probate material, and would have been extremely daunting to an overseas visitor, though a useful reference.
H. A. Crofton's How to trace a pedigree (London, 1911; 2nd ed. 1924) was a slight and very general book in a little series of ‘How to’ books ‘For the bibliophile and book-lover’ published at two shillings. I mention it here because it came out in the same year as the Society of Genealogists was founded and, unusually, was written by a woman, though this is not revealed in the book itself where only her initials appear. She was Helen Augusta Maria Crofton an Irish lady who had earlier been inspired by her aunt, Adelia Margery West (nee Slacke, died 1901), to write the little Records of the Slacke family of Ireland (1902) and thus had some personal experience of work at the Registry of Deeds in Dublin. She died at Lisburn, co. Antrim, in 1919, aged 61.
The descendants of families that have emigrated overseas, in the third generation or perhaps after about a hundred years, frequently turn their minds to their emigrant forebears and their ancestries in the 'home country' and Anthony Wagner noted that such enquiries had been made of the heralds in England from families in America since the seventeenth century. It was unfortunate, therefore, that the petition of Garter King of Arms, Sir Edward Walker (died 1677), for a commission to make an heraldic visitation of the American plantations in the 1660s had been unsuccessful. A later Garter, Sir Isaac Heard (1730-1822), had personal connections in America and took a special interest in American families, corresponding at some length in the 1790s, as we now know, with George Washington about the latter’s ancestry and arms.
Historical societies were founded in America in the late eighteenth century, the first in Massachusetts in 1791, and the secretary of that in New Hampshire, John Farmer (1789-1838), published the ground breaking A genealogical register of the first settlers on New England (1829). The better known A genealogical dictionary of the first settlers of New England by James Savage (1784-1873) came out in four volumes in 1860-62. The intervening years saw the foundation in Boston of the New England Historic Genealogical Society in 1845 and the commencement of its quarterly New England Historical and Genealogical Register, generally known as the Register, in 1847.
Americans seeking their roots and 'lost fortunes' in the British Isles had thus been a commonplace of the genealogical scene in London and elsewhere for some years. Wilford Woodruff (1807-1898), a miller by trade and latterly President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, did research on his Woodruff ancestry whilst on missions in London in 1840 and 1846. In 1845 an early member of the New England society, Horatio Gates Somerby (1805-1872), came to England and spent much of the rest of his life here trying to trace the origins of early American settlers, though 'Unhappily he sometimes provided an ancestry for a generous client that later research has failed to verify’. Indeed, by the 1880s many of his rich clients’ pedigrees were found to be fraudulent.
An uncritical approach, coupled with a lack of knowledge of the social background and geography of the British Isles, has made much early (and not a little contemporary) work of this kind by overseas visitors of little value and the false assumptions of early searchers have frequently bedevilled all subsequent attempts to set the record straight. Similarities of name and date, particularly where early migrants are concerned, have seduced many an American into the adoption of false ancestries here, a frequent pitfall for the uninstructed and uncritical beginner in this field, as much then as it is now.
A critical approach was hardly known amongst amateur genealogists in England, let alone amongst its visitors, and there were plenty who would pander to the desires of distant Americans and provide spurious material. The Latter-Day Saints, with desires founded in religion, were easy prey. Perhaps because of this they eventually sought out trusted members of their Church in England to carry out research for other members and the main American societies took to sending over competent searchers of known integrity to explore likely material for emigrant origins. One unscrupulous ‘professional’, William Paver (1802-1871), who had been dismissed from his position in the Probate Registry at York for inserting fabricated wills amongst those proved there, obtained the position of Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths at York, and he and his son, both industrious professionals, conducted a wide correspondence, particularly in America where in 1857 the New England Society published a list of the Yorkshire pedigrees he had available for sale at a dollar a generation. It is possible, however, that Paver’s fabrications, like those of many other genealogists, related mainly to his own ancestry.
Richard Sims remarked in 1861 on ‘the increasing interest displayed by our brethren across the Atlantic in whatever relates to family history and their connection with the old country’ and was amongst the first to draw attention to their labours as of possible interest to genealogists in England, printing lists of the English pedigrees that had already appeared in the first eight volumes of the New England Register, of American local histories containing genealogies, and of the many individual family histories that had been published in America, the first noted being Joseph Sharpless’s Family Record of the Sharples family published at Philadelphia in 1816.
Horatio Somerby was followed to England by Joseph Lemuel Chester (1821-1882), a man of a completely different calibre where genealogy was concerned. Chester was a poet, temperance lecturer, miscellaneous writer and journalist, originally from Norwich, Connecticut, who rose to be a member of the city council of Philadelphia and, although without military service, was given the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, which he always used. He first came to England in 1858 and settled with an English 'wife', Georgiana George (though I have not traced their marriage), in Finsbury, later moving to Bermondsey where he remained until his death. What led him to historical work is not clear but he began to undertake searches in London for clients in America and in 1861 published an account of John Rogers (1505-1555) the Marian proto-martyr from whom his family had, incorrectly as he showed, claimed descent. The next year he obtained permission to search without charge the pre-1700 probate records then at Doctors' Commons where he specialised in the origins of early American settlers. His major works include some 87 large volumes of extracts from parish registers and church notes by county (given to the College of Arms by his executor George Edward Cokayne), a complete transcript of the matriculation register of Oxford University where he received an honorary degree (the register being edited and published in eight volumes by Joseph Foster in 1887-92), extensive extracts from the Bishop of London's marriage licence allegations (also edited by Joseph Foster in 1887), and a splendidly annotated edition of the baptismal, marriage and burial registers of Westminster Abbey (printed in 1876). Colonel Chester was one of the founders of the Harleian Society and contributed transcripts of several London registers to its published series as well as, with Joseph Jackson Howard, an edition of the Visitation of London 1633-5 (2 vols. 1880-3). His biography in the old Dictionary of National Biography says that when he died in 1882, 'he had no superior as a genealogist amongst English-speaking people'. He is the only genealogist to have a memorial (in the south aisle of the nave) in Westminster Abbey.
In his early days in England Chester employed as a secretary one Harriet Ann Bainbridge (1829-1908), the daughter of a banker in Euston Square, ‘of the ancient house of Bainbridge of Westmoreland, settled there before the Conquest’, or so she claimed, whom he recommended to others. Later working on her own account he found that she was confusing, falsifying, and forging records for clients, and he forced her to give up genealogical work. She had, in 1872, married a clerk in the War Office, William John Salis or De Salis, and subsequently became a prolific writer of cookery books.
Meanwhile, the London bookseller and publisher John Camden Hotten, who (as noted above) when young had lived for eight years in America and maintained a close connection with the American market, had compiled the first edition of his Original lists of persons of quality, emigrants, religious exiles, political rebels ... and others who went from Great Britain to the American plantations (1874), a book, the first of its kind, which went through several editions. He had finished overseeing the 580-page work at the Public Record Office just a month before his death in June the previous year. To say that some of these 'persons of quality' were minor criminals, in bondage, or living with someone else's wife, would not, of course, have sold the book! The important two manuscript volumes of 'Servants to Foreign Plantations' with 10,000 names for the period 1654-85 were not found at Bristol until 1925, when an American offered £1,000 for the volume that contained his ancestor’s name. Transcribed by the genealogist Reginald Hargreaves-Mawdsley (1891-1970), they were printed as Bristol to America in 1929.
Following Colonel Chester's death in 1882, at the suggestion of a wealthy Bostonian lawyer, John Tyler Hassam and with his financial support, the New England Society decided to provide a small salary to someone in London who would continue his work and it chose Henry FitzGilbert Waters (1823-1913) who had come to England in 1879 and published in 1880 his first 'gleanings' from English records about New England families. As a result, from 1883 to 1899, that Society's Register contained large numbers of extracts from records contributed by Waters, mostly from London repositories and largely as a result of trawling through and making copious extracts from the wills then at Somerset House. These extracts were collected together and reprinted in the 1,643 pages of Genealogical gleanings in England (2 vols. 1901) a work of considerable value for families on both sides of the Atlantic before 1680.
The New England Society continued the work of Chester and Waters into the twentieth century by sponsoring other searchers in England, notably James Henry Lea (1846-1914) who had joined the Society in 1888 and who claimed in 1906 to have spent twenty years doing work in England. In 1904 he had compiled Abstracts of wills, Register 'Soame', 1620 and two years later he produced the short Genealogical research in England, Scotland and Ireland: a handbook for the student, drafts of which had earlier appeared in The New England Register outlining a search for emigrant origins through probate material. His abstraction of wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in the year of the sailing of the Mayflower was, of course, no coincidence. He acknowledged the assistance of George Cokaigne [sic, recte Cokayne], the editor of The Complete Peerage, whom he calls 'the Nestor of English Genealogists'. However, Lea was probably best known for his work on The ancestry of Abraham Lincoln (1909) about which there has been much argument. In it he collaborated with John Robert Hutchinson (1858-1924), a bookseller and record agent who for several years had been working unsuccessfully on the John Russell who migrated to Boston in 1635. Lea’s work was continued by George Andrews Moriarty (1882-1968), of Ogunquit, Maine, but he conducted his research by correspondence from America and employed English researchers.
The reading of the wills of persons of the same surname proved both before and after a migrant left England, as Lea advocated, starting with the Prerogative Court, had become the standard way of attempting to find the migrant’s origins but was particularly laborious when the surname was a frequent one. To make or publish abstracts of all the wills proved in a certain year and thus to reveal all the hidden subsidiary names and connections that they contained was a particularly valuable task. Using the Prerogative Court, Samuel Anderson Smith listed in 1893-4 all the names in the wills of West Country persons prior to 1743 (a manuscript that used to be at Somerset House but is now apparently lost), William Brigg printed in 1894-1914 abstracts of half the wills proved in the year 1658 and John Harold Morrison (died 1935) printed in 1934 abstracts of all those in 1630. Others later made similar abstracts, Mrs A. E. Rowan for 1651, Frederick Simon Snell for large parts of 1699 and 1751, and George Sherwood in 1917 abstracted and published the whole of the 4,382 wills (naming 40,000 people) in 'Register Greenly' for 1750.
Inspired by the gleanings published in New England, The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography began in 1903 to publish a series of 'Virginia Gleanings in England', initially using material extracted by Henry Waters and then by another well-known searcher Lothrop Withington who was killed on the Lusitania in May 1915. The latter had just sent a postcard to George Sherwood saying ‘Will come by the ‘Lusitania’, subject to Kaiser Wilhelm’s consent’. The series was then entrusted for three years to the genealogist Leo Culleton (mentioned above) and concluded by Reginald Glencross, of whom more will be said, the latter's contributions appearing intermittently in the Virginia Magazine until July 1929.
One cannot talk about the development of genealogy in the United States and its impact on the United Kingdom without considering the part played by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Latter-day Saints believe that baptism, together with the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, is essential to salvation, but that these ordinances are invalid unless performed by priesthood authority. Their Prophet, Joseph Smith (1805-1844), first preached the doctrine of baptism for the dead in August 1840 and members of the Church that he founded immediately began to perform proxy baptisms for their deceased relatives in the Mississippi River. The following year such baptisms were restricted to the temples where endowments could also take place.
Another early doctrine taught that eternal marriage performed by priesthood authority, when linked to the children of that marriage and 'sealed' by temple ordinance, would create family bonds that would last for eternity. Members of the church believe that these endowment and sealing ceremonies are essential for their salvation and, indeed, for that of those who have gone before, for Joseph Smith said, 'The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead'.
After many early members of the church moved to Salt Lake City in 1847 proxy endowments were delayed until the completion of the temple at St George in the far south of Utah in 1877, when the nineteen-year old Susa Young, later an early member of the Society of Genealogists in London, was the first to be baptised for the dead. Two days later her father, Brigham Young (1801-1877), the President of the Church, stood proxy for the endowment of his father.
Several prominent early church leaders in Utah set an example in searching for family records. The brothers Orson (1811-1881) and Parley Pratt (1907-1857) did so whilst serving a mission in Washington in 1853 and Orson was the first Latter-day Saint to publish a family history. Their families baptised about three thousand of their ancestors. Wilford Woodruff (1807-1898), later President of the Church, did research whilst on missions in London in 1840 and 1846, and Franklin Dewey Richards (1821-1899) gathered records and an extensive library which he eventually sold at cost to the Church Historian's Office, becoming in 1894 the first president of the Genealogical Society of Utah. In 1893 he had astutely advised Mrs Maria Newman, intent on having searches made in England that she should not tell the parish clerk that the information sought was for temple work as that might antagonise him.
As the interest in research grew, requests for assistance from missionaries travelling abroad became frequent. An early professional genealogist, Benjamin F. Cummings (died 1899), served two missions within the United States, 1876-78, and visited the New England Society then and again in 1892 when he made an extensive tour of the eastern States to learn about record-keeping systems. By 1893 it is thought that about fifty people were going to Europe each year for genealogical purposes and that there were at least 178 genealogical missionaries, mostly coming from Utah and going to the UK, between 1885 and 1900. One church member who spent some years in London, James B. Walkley (1863-1940), a carpenter and later an engineer in Salt Lake City who had been born in Islington the son of a pastry cook, emigrated in 1883 but returned to London to do genealogical work for others. Perhaps sub-contracting searches, his services were described in the Deseret Evening News in 1892. He charged $1.50 a day for work in the indexes at the General Register Office, where the fees paid added about $6 to the cost of collecting a hundred names. He is credited with being the first to urge leaders of the Church in Utah to organise a society the subsequent history of which is described below.
It has been noted that William Phillimore was a disciple of Francis Galton and interested in the social status of his family, in heredity generally and, of course, in the passing on of the best genes. An interest in the 'science of human betterment' or eugenics was widespread in middle-class progressive minds by the end of the nineteenth century and although the work of Charles Booth had brought recognition that poverty and unemployment were not necessarily the products of hereditary moral shortcomings, many people who thought like Phillimore founded in December 1907 the Eugenics Education Society in London to promote a public awareness of eugenic problems and of the existence of positive and negative hereditary qualities.
Those who bred horses and other farming stock had always placed emphasis on the need for 'good breeding' but genealogists from farming backgrounds and with their roots in the soil would also have known instinctively, as the eminent genealogist Charles Bernau did, that 'many a good cow hath an ill calf', and that there are ups and downs in most families which have nothing to do with genetic defects but have much to do with economic factors and chance. Bernau himself wrote, 'how much more [than royalty] must those of the middle classes expect to find that some of their direct ancestors were poverty-stricken and lived amid squalid surroundings.' However, Bernau was an early member of the Eugenics Education Society, perhaps (one has to say) because it might give him commercial advantage, and he provided that Society with plenty of space in his International Genealogical Directory.
The eugenicist Ernest James Lidbetter (1877-1962) had a somewhat different background. Born in Bermondsey in 1877, the son of a prosperous baker and the grandson of a greengrocer, Lidbetter was in 1898 appointed a Relieving Officer for the Hackney Board of Guardians with responsibility for investigating the claims of applicants for relief. He immediately noticed that many of those who came forward for relief did so repeatedly and were often the children and relatives of others in the same situation and he became convinced that this was due to some defect that was hereditary. He was not the first to notice ‘hereditary paupers’ and an article in the Shoreditch Observer under that heading in 1886 drew attention to a case before the Islington Board of Guardians when a man in his eightieth year applied for relief and was recommended the workhouse infirmary. The man’s parents, both nearly a hundred years old, were in receipt of out-door relief. The Board’s chairman remarked that its late clerk, Mr Hicks, used to say that he was able to trace pauper families back for a century or more.
When in 1910 a Research Committee of the Eugenics Education Society started an investigation of actual pauper families in the East End of London, Lidbetter and two neighbouring Relieving Officers, using the records of their three workhouses and assisted in the research by some twenty members of his Society, the Research Committee also came rapidly to the conclusion that 'a single family stock produces paupers, feeble-minded, alcoholics and certain types of criminals. If an investigation could be carried out on a sufficiently large scale, we believe that the greater proportion of undesirables would be found connected together by a network of relationship'. Having no doubt in the truth of this statement, he for several years assembled pedigrees of the inter-married families involved and he published articles derived from them. He regarded the families, as Pauline Mazumdar says, almost as a breeding or 'biological isolate rather like the fauna of the Galapagos Islands', but made no attempt to differentiate between conditions that were truly genetic and those that were environmental, let alone quantifying or providing any form of statistical analysis of what he was finding.
The genealogist Charles Bernau had already seen, when looking at documents in his parish church at Walton-on-Thames, that 'the task of tracing a family in the lowest stratum of society will be easier than compiling the pedigree of one in the upper middle class'. Bernau's string of examples from the Walton-on-Thames poor law records, published in his The genealogy of the submerged (1908), were very similar to those used by Lidbetter and included settlement examinations, lists of inmates in the workhouse and a removal order in 1843 which showed four generations of a family. It is thus doubtful that Bernau could have learned from Lidbetter's techniques even if they had been more widely known in genealogical circles. In any case the 'submerged' were not themselves tracing their ancestors and the few genealogists, such as Bernau and Gerald Fothergill, who realised that working-class ancestors might appear in these records would undoubtedly have had problems in gaining access to them, even if they could have persuaded their clients to pay for such research.
Whatever the reasons, there seems to have been very little overlap between the so-called 'gentlemen genealogists' of the first decade of the twentieth century and the membership of the Eugenics Education Society whose over-riding interests at that time were in propaganda for their cause. Unlike the Society of Genealogists, more than half their members were medical men, scientists and academics and more than half were women. Lidbetter, an early and active member of the Eugenics Education Society (and subsequently a member of its Council and a Fellow), never joined the Society of Genealogists, and the Society seems not to have played any part in the Eugenics Education Society or in the first International Congress of Eugenics held in London in 1912 at which numerous pedigrees were displayed. Even the standardisation of the medical pedigree format, which received much discussion at the time the Society of Genealogists was founded, involved no member of the Society. Francis Galton had himself written that, 'There are many methods of drawing pedigrees and describing kinship, but for my own purposes I still prefer those that I designed myself'. In that at least, most genealogists in England were unfortunately agreed! Reporting on a lecture by the statistician David Heron (1881-1969) on ‘The work of the Eugenics laboratory’ in 1909, George Sherwood said that Heron ‘held that the inheritance factor was more important than the infection factor’, but made no further comment. The Society of Genealogists' general lack of interest and involvement in eugenics seems to have continued into the late 1920s when some prominent members led a considerable change in attitude.
 GM, vol. 2, no. 2 (June 1926) 41.
 Gerald Curtis, Mansion and cottage home: views on a Hertfordshire estate - Walkern Hall -1875-1935 (Unpublished Typescript, n.d.) Chapter 14.
 Igor Schwezoff, Borzoi (1935) 441.
 TPR, vol. 1 (June 1909) 270.
 TPR, vol. 1 (March 1910) 366.
 Later Roman historians, concerned by the impossible chronology, made Aeneas the founder, not of Rome itself, but of Lavinium, the head of the Latin League.
 As recounted in Homer’s Iliad and Virgil’s Aeneid.
 Joseph Stevenson, Historia Britonum (1838); History of the Britons, translated from Stevenson’s text by Rev. J. A. Giles in Six Old English Chronicles (Bohn’s Antiquarian Library, 1840).
 Galfredi Monemutensis de Origine et Gestis Regum Britannorum (Paris, 1508); also in Six Old English Chronicles (1840).
 Genesis, X, 2.
 Kenneth Sisam, ‘Anglo-Saxon Royal Genealogies’, in Proceedings of the British Academy, vol. 39 (1953) 287-348.
 Kenneth Sisam, op. cit., quoted in Anthony Wagner, English Genealogy (1983) 14-15.
 Many were extracted between 1880 and 1904 and published by George Wrottesley in his Pedigrees from the Plea Rolls, 1200-1500 (1906) but he made no systematic search for examples before 1327.
 William Page, ed., Family origins and other studies (1930) 199.
 Sir John Maclean, ed, The Lives of the Berkeleys by John Smyth of Nibley (3 vols. 1893).
 Wagner, op. cit. (1983) 369-71, quoting J. H. Round, ‘Our English Hapsburgs: a Great Delusion’, in Peerage and Family History (1901) chapter v.
 Wagner, op. cit. (1983) 376.
 Wagner, op. cit. (1983) 368.
 Both are quoted on the title page of Stacey Grimaldi, Origines Genealogicae (1828).
 The figure is given by Stacey Grimaldi, op. cit. (1828) 4. A further 49 claimed ancestry before 1100 and another 29 before 1200.
 It curiously finds no mention in Donald Steel's account of the history of parish registers in volume 1 of the NIPR (1968).
 Nicholas Herbert in C. R. J. Currie and C. P. Lewis, eds., English county histories: a guide (1994) 157.
 ‘A Register Booke of Ixworth, Transcribed May Anno Dm 1675, by Simon Boldero’ (SoG, Accession 25986, 19 February 1957).
 NIPR, vol. 1 (1968) 183.
 R. E. C. Waters, Parish Registers in England (1883) 95.
 Patrick Polden, op. cit., 350.
 Rex v. Smallpiece, 2 Chitty's Reports, 288, quoted in R. E. C. Waters, op. cit. (1883) 87.
 Steele v. Williams, Exchequer Reports, viii, 825, quoted in Waters, op. cit. (1883) 87.
 ‘Important to Clergymen: Court of Exchequer, 7 May 1853, Steele v. Williams’, in Carlisle Patriot, 5 November 1853, 6.
 Sir Thomas Phillipps, Bart, On parochial registration of baptisms, marriages and burials (1833).
 Parish Register Abstract: 1831 (London, 1833).
 Francis Green, ‘The Selby Romance’, in Y Cymmrodor, xix (1906) 89-123; Bowen is said to have been convicted for these activities at Cardigan Assizes in July 1838 but there is no mention of the case in the Criminal Registers; Charles H. Savory, Life and anecdotes of Jemmy Wood, the eccentric banker, merchant and draper, of Gloucester; also an account of the remarkable trial with reference to his will (1883).
 Worcester Herald, 27 July 1844, 4.
 1841 Census of King’s Arms, 27 Aldersgate Street, St Botolph Aldersgate, where he was arrested.
 The Selby claims ceased on appeal in 1900 by reason of the Statute of Limitations.
 The Home and Foreign Review, no. 4 (April 1863).
 Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, 26 August 1882, 2, and 13 October 1888, 8.
 Royal Cornwall Gazette, 22 January 1891, 7; Cornishman, 14 May 1891, 6.
 N&Q 2S vi (1858) 380.
 Parish Registers. A Bill to make provision for the better preservation of the ancient Parochial Registers of England and Wales (Prepared and brought in by Mr. Borlase, Mr. Bryce, Mr. Cochran-Patrick, and Mr. Mellor.) Ordered, by The House of Commons, to be printed, 19 April 1882. [Bill 132].
 Walter Rye, Records and record searching: a guide to the genealogist and topographer (1897) 89 and footnote.
 House of Commons, Minutes, 5 July 1882, vol. 271, c1509.
 R. E. C. Waters, Genealogical memoirs of the extinct family of Chester of Chicheley (2 vols. 1878).
 R. E. C. Waters, op. cit. (1883) 98.
 R. E. C. Waters, op. cit. (1883) 95.
 W. Raymond Powell, John Horace Round: historian and gentleman of Essex (2001) 52-3.
 J. P. Earwaker, A Lancashire pedigree case: or a history of the various trials for the recovery of the Harrison estates, from 1873 to 1886 (Warrington, 1887) viii.
 e.g. 'The Bankruptcy of Mr. W. C. Borlase' in The West Briton, Monday, 14 November 1887.
 A. J. Jewers, The registers of the parish of St Columb Major, Cornwall, from the year 1539 to 1780 (1881).
 William C. Borlase to A. J. Jewers, 15 February 1882.
 Marriage by Licence at St John, Islington, 20 July 1887 [Entry 489, Page 245].
 1891 Census of 19 Chamberlain Street, Wells, Somerset, RG12/1913-121-12.
 1891 Census of 7 Endsleigh Road, Plymouth, 1891 Census, RG12/1725-69-4; 1901 Census of 41 Torrington Place, Plymouth, 1901 Census RG13/2093-149-26. She died at Plymouth in 1920, aged 70.
 1901 Census of 31 St Mary's Terrace, Paddington, RG13/1-67-25; 1911 Census of 1 Keats Grove, Hampstead.
 S. B. Gould to A. J. Jewers, 27 November 1884.
 R. T. Gunton for Marquis of Salisbury to Arthur J. Jewers, 4 April 1885.
 George W. Marshall to Arthur J. Jewers, 12 July 1885.
 Sir John Lubbock to A. J. Jewers, 7 February 1885; notation by Jewers, 'Since this letter was written I have seen Sir John Lubbock and Mr Borlase and they approve of a Royal Commission'.
 A. J. Jewers, Wells Cathedral: its monumental inscriptions and heraldry (1892).
 Undated printed form-letter with copy of Memorial to the Queen in Jewers' correspondence.
 Subsequent undated note by A. J. Jewers attached to the correspondence.
 Ernest L. Ridge, Chaplain to the Archbishop, to A. J. Jewers, 21 July 1894.
 Alwyne [Bishop of] Ely to A. J. Jewers, 15 February 1897.
 12 December 1893.
 J. Cumming Macdona to A. J. Jewers, 24 January 1897 and 1 March 1897.
 House of Commons, Debates, 26 January 1897, vol. 45, c516.
 E. A. Fry to A. J. Jewers, 28 January 1897.
 Guildhall Library, MS 2480/1-5, now London Metropolitan Archives, CLC/256; GM, vol. 6, no. 3 (September 1932) 107.
 Charles H. Athill, Richmond Herald, to A. J. Jewers, 18 November 1918.
 A. C. Fox-Davies, Armorial Families: a directory of coat-armour (1899) 455.
 D. J. Steel, NIPR, vol. 1 (1968)183-6, quoting N&Q 4S ii118 (1 August 1868) and 142 (8 August 1868).
 The marriage, baptismal, and burial registers of the collegiate church or abbey of St Peter, Westminster [1607-1875], edited and annotated by Joseph Lemuel Chester (Harleian Society, Visitation Series, vol. 10, 1876).
 The register booke of christnings, marriages, and burialls within the precinct of the cathedrall and metropoliticall church of Christe of Canterburie [1564-1878], edited by Robert Hovenden (Harleian Society, Register Section, vol. 2, 1878).
 The registers of St Paul's Cathedral [1697-1899], edited by John W. Clay (Harleian Society, Register Section, vol. 26, 1898).
 The registers of the abbey church of SS. Peter and Paul Bath [1569-1800], edited by Arthur J. Jewers (Harleian Society, Register Section, vols. 27-28, 1900-01).
 R. E. C. Waters, op. cit. (1883) 98.
 N&Q 8S viii, 173.
 '100 years of Phillimore & Co' in Local History Magazine, no. 64 (November-December 1997) 12-16.
 George W. Marshall, 'Printed Parish Registers', in The Genealogist, New Series, vol. 2 (1885).
 London Post Office Directories. and 1904 Poll for St Andrew, Holborn.
 1911 Census of 1 Castellain Road, Maida Vale, RG14/32 image 2.
 W. P. W. Phillimore, How to write the history of a family (1888)153-4; and his Pedigree Work (3rd edn 1936) 41.
 Richard Sims, A manual for the genealogist, topographer, antiquary, and legal professor (1861) 356.
 Advertisements in International Genealogical Directory (1907) 108, and (1909) clvi.
 Marriage Index of London Churches the property of Messrs Pallot, No 2 New Court, Lincolns Inn, London, undated typescript (c. 1935) in the possession of the author.
 Tribute by the Master of the Rolls in The Times, 1 November 1944, 7, column f.
 G. H. Martin & Peter Spufford, The Records of the Nation (1990) 124-5.
 Roger Ellis, ‘Records preservation from BRS to BRA’, in Jubilee Essays: The British Records Association 1932-1992 (BRA, 1992) 25.
 Ursula Bloom, Parson extraordinary (1963)180-9; J. H. Bloom to J. B. Whitmore, 24 February 1941.
 1939 Register; 1911 Census, Montrose, St Martin’s, Jersey.
 London Gazette, 15 July 1949, Issue 38666, 3518, and 23 February 1962, Issue 42606, 1648; also PPR Calendar. Mrs Sayers died on 7 June 1962 [PPR Calendar].
 According to Cecil Humphery-Smith in an article 'British Ancestry: Pallot Index' (dated 18 January 2006) on www.britishancestry.org/articles (accessed 6 June 2011) the Index was started in 1813, continued by the 'Bernardi [sic] brothers', inherited and continued by Cox, Sayers & Co, Pallot made the largest contribution, the Misses Stokes and Mr Challen extended it, and John Andrews (sic) augmented it. I have not been able to confirm the involvement of the De Bernardy family in the early Index. That it evolved partly from an index maintained by Phillimore & Co and assisted Percival Boyd in the compilation of his index is not borne out by the facts.
 GM, vol. 17, no. 3 (September 1972) 131,
 GM, vol. 19, no. 5 (March 1978) xi.
 The Index is described in Family History, vol. 20, no. 168 (July 2001) 297-298, but that it was based largely on surviving Bishops Transcripts is not there mentioned.
 Pallot's Marriage Index 1780-1837 (Ancestry.com, CD-ROM, 2001).
 Although not concerned with genealogy Margaret Paston wrote to her son in 1471, ‘It is a shame and a thing that is much spoken of in this country that your father’s gravestone is not made’; quoted by R. Emmerson in ‘Margaret Paston’s brass’, in Monumental Brass Society Bulletin, 17 (February 1978) 13.
 Sir Henry Chauncy, The historical antiquities of Hertfordshire (1700) 554-555.
 Ralph Bigland, Observations on Marriages, Baptisms and Burials, as Preserved in Parochial Registers (1764).
 Reprinted in Bristol and Gloucester Archaeological Society Record Series (4 vols. 1989-95), edited by Brian Frith.
 ‘Mutilation and Destruction of Sepulchral Monuments’, in Stamford Mercury, 19 July 1861, 6.
 Lincolnshire Church Notes (Lincolnshire Record Society, vol. 31, 1936) 369-70.
 His preface, quoted in D. J. Steel, NIPR, vol. 1 (1968) 265-266.
 Frederick Teague Cansick, A collection of curious and interesting epitaphs copied from the monuments of distinguished and noted characters in the ancient church and burial grounds of Saint Pancras, Middlesex, 2 vols. (1869-72) ...[and] in the churches and churchyards of Hornsey, Tottenham, Friern Barnet and Hadley, Middlesex (1875).
 Ursula Bloom, Parson Extraordinary (1963) 145.
 It was printed as Testamenta Lambethana ... 1312-1636 by Sir Thomas Phillipps in 1854.
 Stacey Grimaldi, Origines Genealogicae (1828) 225.
 James Raine, ed., Wills and inventories illustrative of the history, manners, language, statistics, etc., of the northern counties of England, from the eleventh century downwards (1835).
 Harris Nicolas's summary of his activities appears in his cogent submission (s 103-8) to the Fourth Report made to His Majesty by the commissioners appointed to inquire into the law of England respecting real property (1833).
 Royal Commission on Public Records, vol. 2, part 3 (1914) 92-96 and 168.
 Daniel Joseph Kirwan, Palace and hovel: or, phases of London life (1971) chapter xi.
 Kirwan, op. cit. (1871) chapter xi.
 Richard Sims, Manual for the genealogist (1861) 344.
 N. H. Nicolas, Testamenta vetusta, vol. 1 (1826) 13.
 Report of the Council of the Camden Society elected 3rd May, 1847 (1848) 5-10.
 Report of the Council of the Camden Society (1853) 5-6.
 John Gough Nichols and John Bruce, eds, Wills from Doctors' Commons: a selection from the wills of eminent persons proved in the prerogative court of Canterbury, 1495-1695 (1863).
 Kirwan, op. cit. (1871) 159.
 Morning Post, 14 October 1874, 7, and other newspapers, e.g. Alnwick Mercury, 31 October 1874, 2.
 By 1915 the 'literary searchers' had free access to wills a hundred years after probate.
 Walter Rye, op. cit. (1897) 138.
 Walter Rye, op. cit. (1897) 104.
 Walter Rye, op. cit. (1897) 105.
 Calendar of grants of probate and administration and of other testamentary records of the Commissary Court of the Venerable the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, 1504-1829 (HMSO, 1864).
 I have a copy of the Returns respecting ... Ecclesiastical Courts (1830) that belonged to Coleman, given to me by Alice Stanley.
 His account of the work, dated August 1865, is in Royal Commission on Public Records, vol. 2, part 2 (1914) 93-96; he is named as the author in the response to Question 5811.
 W. P. W. Phillimore, op. cit. (1888) 151.
 Ida Darlington, ed., London Consistory Court Wills 1492-1547 (1967) ix-xxii.
 Walter Rye, op. cit. (1897) 139-40.
 D. M. Barratt, ed., Probate records of the courts of the bishop and archdeacon of Oxford 1516-1732, vol. 1 (1981) vi.
 Royal Commission on Public Records, vol. 2, part 3 (1914) 47.
 Royal Commission on Public Records, vol. 2, part 3 (1914) 42-43.
 Royal Commission on Public Records, vol. 2, part 3 (1914) 46
 Royal Commission on Public Records, vol. 2, part 3 (1914) 44.
 Royal Commission on Public Records, vol. 2, part 3 (1914) 46-47.
 Lincolnshire Church Notes (Lincolnshire Record Society, vol. 31, 1936) xi.
 There is a partial account of his family in TPR, vol. 2 (December 1910) 71-76.
 GM, vol. 2, no. 4 (December 1926) vii. 1891 Census of 29 Priory Park Road, Willesden, in which he is described as a genealogist (RG12/1045-74-60/61).
 'American Ancestry', publicity note by Gerald Fothergill, n.d.
 A List of MSS and Indexes in possession of Mr. G. Fothergill, publicity leaflet, n.d.
 Fothergill Papers, specimen letter, 4 March 1903.
 H. R. Plomer to Gerald Fothergill, 18 May 1903.
 Fothergill Papers, Somerset House, 19 June 1903; The Times, 20 June 1903, 6.
 H. R. Plomer to Gerald Fothergill, 14 June 1903.
 Royal Commission on Public Records, vol. 2, part 3 (1914) 54.
 The outcome is mentioned by Fothergill in his evidence to the Royal Commission.
 TSGL: Fifth QR, September 1912, 2.
 Dictionary of National Biography, sub John Caley (died 1834), apparently quoting Commons’ Report on Record Commission, 1836.
 As it had become in 1540 when the Abbey was dissolved. Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Historical memorials of Westminster Abbey (1882)381-2; for John Ireland see Edward Carpenter, ed., A house of kings: a history of Westminster Abbey (1966) 214.
 Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Historical memorials of Westminster Abbey (1882) 378-382.
 Elizabeth M. Hallam, ‘Nine centuries of keeping the Public Records’, in The Records of the Nation (1990) 23-42.
 John Gough Nichols & John Bruce, Wills from Doctors’ Commons (1863), ii footnote.
 Jane Cox, ed., The Nation’s Memory: a pictorial guide to the Public Record Office (1988) 7.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 84-86.
 John Cantwell, ‘The making of the first Deputy Keeper of the records’, in Archives, vol. xvii, no. 73 (April 1985) 22-37.
 Quoted in Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 114.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 139-40.
 Christopher Kitching, ‘A Victorian pioneer in the records: Walter Rye’s Records and Record Searching in context’, in Archives, vol. xxxiii, no. 119 (October 2008) 130.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 141-42.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 224-5.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 170-4, 262.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 181.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 183.
 Kitching, op. cit. (2008) 127; cf. Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 209.
 William Page in Family Origins and Other Studies (1930) xviii.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 199, 213.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 272.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 218.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 225.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 232.
 John Physick and Michael Darby, ‘Marble Halls’: drawings and models for Victorian secular buildings (Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973) 134 (page 191); Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 232, 258, 260-1, 295.
 Walter Rye, Records and record searching (1897) 118-119.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 243, 262.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 272-7.
 Pym Yeatman, ‘Genealogical Research in America’, in Notes & Queries, 9S vii (30 March 1901) 244-5; observations confirmed by ‘G. K. C.’ in Notes & Queries, 9S vii (4 May 1901) 350-1.
 C. R. J. Currie and C. P. Lewis, English county histories: a guide (1994) 112-13.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 292; Modern Public Records: selection and access … 1981 (Cmnd. 8204) Appendix 3, pages 223-4.
 Geoffrey Martin in The Records of the Nation (1990) 20.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 299.
 ODNB; Frederick Boase, Modern English Biography, vol. 3 (1901); Christopher Kitching, ‘Walford Dakin [sic] Selby (1845-1889), Superintendent of the Round Room’, in Magna: Magazine of the Friends of The National Archives, vol. 24, no. 1 (April 2013) 18-20. He was baptised and his birth registered as Walford Daking Selby.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 299, 339.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 287-304.
 Geoffrey Martin in The Records of the Nation (1990) 20.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 310.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 332-33; PRO Guide, I (1963) 64.
 PRO Guide, II (1963) 275; Cantwell, op.cit. (1991) 394.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 334.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 351.
 Public Record Office: Museum Catalogue (London, 1948, 1974); J. D. Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 310-11..
 Alexandra Nicol, ‘Liaison: Public Records held in other record offices’, in The Records of the Nation (1990) 139-48.
 TPR, vol. 1, no. 9 (June 1909) 263-4, quoting the Deputy Keeper’s Seventieth AR (1909).
 DNB; her England under the Angevin Kings was published in 1887.
 J. H. Round, Family Origins and other Studies (1930) 8.
 George Sherwood to J. B. Whitmore, 31 December 1940.
 Audrey Deacon & Peter Walne, eds., “A Professional Hertfordshire Tramp”; John Edwin Cussans, Historian of Hertfordshire (Hertfordshire Record Society, 1987) 84-85.
 Obituary of Howard by G. J. A. in Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica, 3rd Series, vol. 5 (1904) 41-43.
 George Burnett, Popular Genealogists (1865) 99.
 Wagner, op. cit. (1983) 390.
 Morning Post, 15 April 1897, page 2.
 Derby Mercury, 12 May 1897, page 6.
 Round, Peerage and Pedigree, ii (1910) 307-84.
 DNB; G. C. Baugh in Currie & Lewis, English County Histories: a Guide (1994) 341-2.
 Josiah Wedgwood in DNB; M. W. Greenslade in Currie & Lewis, English County Histories: a Guide (1994) 362-4.
 Family Origins and Other Studies (1930) xvii-xix.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 345-47.
 Walter Rye, Records and Record Searching (2nd ed. 1897) 124.
 C. R. J. Currie and C. P. Lewis, English county histories: a guide (1994) 194-95, 275-76.
 Family Origins and Other Studies (1930) xix.
 Cantwell, op. cit. (1991) 295.
 Aleyn Lyell Reade, The Reades of Blackwood Hill (1906) 141.
 Walter Rye, Records ad Record Searching (2nd ed. 1897) 11.
 History of Yorkshire, vol. 1 (1879) page 14 et seq.
 Page 168.
 Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal, Clarence Volume (1905) 506, Exeter Volume (1907) 725, and Mortimer-Percy Volume (1911) 219.
 Volume vi, page 13, note c; see also The Complete Peerage, xii/2 (1959) 559, note k.
 A. L. Reade, The Reades of Blackwood Hill (1906) 185; A. R. Wagner, English Genealogy (1983) 359-60.
 Abstract of the Pedigree of Field Marshal George Henry de Strabolgie Neville Plantagenet-Harrison (c. 1850); re-printed in A. L. Morton, ‘The hero as genealogist: General Plantagenet-Harrison’, in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, xl, 351-70.
 Morning Post, 21 July 1847, 1; Morning Chronicle, 15 February 1848, 7.
 Morning Post, 13 February 1849, 6.
 London Daily News, 1 May 1849, 2.
 London Daily News, 30 May 1849, 5.
 Perry’s Bankrupt Gazette, 25 September 1852, 7.
 Morning Post, 21 June 1869, 7.
 Evening Mail, 1 April 1850, 1; Freeman’s Journal, 1 April 1850, 2.
 The History of Yorkshire: vol. 1, Wapentake of Gilling West (1879), page viii of Preface.
 Morning Chronicle, 5 February 1851, 6.
 HO18/324 Criminal Petitions, 21 January 1852; HO19/12 Prison Registers, 22 January 1852.
 London Gazette, 20 July 1852, 2033; London Gazette, 27 August 1852, 2358; Perry’s Bankrupt and Insolvent Gazette (from The Times, 14 September 1852), 25 September 1852, 623-4; London Evening Standard, 14 September 1852, 4.
 Morning Chronicle, 17 September 1853, 6.
 London Daily News, 2 May 1854, 5; Hull Packet (from The Times), 19 May 1854, 7.
 London Daily News, 21 June 1855, 6.
 Hull Packet, 22 June 1855, 6.
 Morning Post, 18 November 1857, 7.
 Morning Post, 4 February 1858, 7.
 London Daily News, 29 July 1858, 6.
 London Gazette, 19 October 1858, 4525; London Gazette, 30 November 1858, 5293. London Daily News, 15 December 1858, 6; Windsor and Eton Express, 18 December 1858, 3.
 Morning Post, 27 August 1859, 1 (also 31 August and 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 14 September).
 Morning Post, 24 April 1862, 1.
 Morning Post, 16 December 1862, 1.
 A. L. Reade, The Reades of Blackwood Hill (1906) 182-3.
 Morning Chronicle, 6 November 1861, 4; London Gazette, 15 November 1861, 4623; London Gazette, 31 January 1862, 567.
 Morning Post, 2 January 1863, 7.
 Western Times, 4 February 1863, 1
 Morning Post, 21 June 1869, 7.
 London Gazette, 29 October 1867, 5759; London Gazette, 22 November 1867, 6314.
 London Daily News, 19 November 1867, 3, and 10 January 1868, 6.
 The time in Spain and the action are described in A. L. Morton, ‘The hero as genealogist: General Plantagenet-Harrison’, in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, xl, 361-5.
 Morning Post, 21 June 1869, 7.
 Later census returns show that she was born at Tetsworth, Oxfordshire, about 1835, and she seems likely to be the Maria Eeley, aged 17, dressmaker, born at Tetsworth, with her father, an agricultural labourer, at Holly Bush Row, St Thomas, Oxford, in 1851, and (describing herself as a widow), aged 26, a lodger of no occupation, at 124 Upper Seymour Street, Pancras, in 1861.
 The Herald and Genealogist, vii, 12.
 York Herald, 1 February 1873, 3, also 8 and 15 February, 8 March, 12 and 19 April and 3 May.
 A. L. Reade, The Reades of Blackwood Hill (1906) 141.
 Yorkshire Post, 16 July 1879, 3; Nottingham Evening Post, 26 July 1890, 2.
 Francois Weil, Family Trees: a history of genealogy in America (2013) 161-4; New England Historical and Genealogical Register (1889) 423-4.
 Manchester Courier, 17 July 1876, 3; The Graphic, 23 December 1876.
 York Herald, 7 February 1877, 6.
 Sunderland Daily Echo, 16 February 1878, 4.
 John D. Cantwell, The Public Record Office 1838-1958 (1991) 250-1.
 Westminster Rate Books, 1883-8.
 A. L. Reade, The Reades of Blackwood Hill (1906) 185.
 Notes and Queries, 7S xi (21 March 1891) 222.
 Notes and Queries, 7S xi (25 April 1891) 333 and (13 June 1891) 470-1.
 John D. Cantwell, The Public Record Office 1838-1958 (1991) 319.
 Walter Rye, Records and Record Searching (1897) 11, note 2.
 Memoir and bibliography of Round in Round’s Family Origins and Other Studies (1930) ix-lxxiv.
 Biography of Round in Dictionary of National Biography.
 W. Raymond Powell, John Horace Round: historian and gentleman of Essex (Essex Record Office, 2001).
 Powell, op. cit., 107.
 As announced in The Times, 30 January 1914.
 Powell, op. cit., 32.
 Powell, op. cit., 46.
 Powell, op. cit., 48.
 Powell, op. cit., 49-50.
 Powell, op. cit., 51-53.
 Powell, op. cit., 54-58.
 Family Origins and Other Studies (1930) xxiii.
 Powell, op. cit., 103-4.
 Powell, op. cit., 133-4.
 Powell, op. cit., 120-26.
 Powell, op. cit., 133.
 Powell, op. cit., 114.
 Powell, op. cit., 69-70.
 Powell, op. cit., 116-20.
 Powell, op. cit., 136-37.
 Powell, op. cit., 139.
 Powell, op. cit., 140-42.
 Powell, op. cit., 146.
 Powell, op. cit., 156-57.
 Powell, op. cit., 165.
 The Ancestor, xii (1905) 53; Peerage and Pedigree, ii (1910) 58-62, 64-8, 70-4.
 Powell, op. cit., 159.
 Powell, op. cit., 165.
 These carefully constructed articles, each of about a thousand words, appeared almost daily for more than thirty years; a selection was published as Day In and Day Out, by “The Londoner” of The Evening News, in 1924.
 Family Origins and Other Studies (1930) xxxiii-xxxiv.
 J. Horace Round, Peerage and Pedigree, ii (1910) 240.
 Family Origins and Other Studies (1930) xl; Powell, op. cit., 166-68.
 John D. Cantwell, The Public Record Office 1838-1958 (1991) 365.
 Family Origins and Other Studies (1930) xl-xli. The text of ‘Historical Genealogy’ is given in full, pages 1-12. The second (also printed in the same work, pages 252-65), ‘The Garrison Theory of the Borough’, was a typical attack on Professor Maitland who had first promulgated this theory of the origin of boroughs and on those who had accepted and/or developed the idea.
 Powell, op. cit., 168.
 Powell, op. cit., 120, 187.
 ‘Earldoms and Baronies’, in The Complete Peerage, vol. 4 (1916) Appendix H, page 722.
 J. H. Round, ‘Barons’ and ‘Peers’, in English Historical Review, vol. 33 (1918) 453-71.
 Powell, op. cit., 169-79.
 Obituary in GM, vol. 16, no. 3 (September 1969) 113-14, corrected in no. 4 (December 1969) 165; The Times, 8 March 1969, 10.
 Powell, op. cit., 179.
 Powell, op. cit., 185.
 Powell, op. cit., 190-1.
 Geoffrey H. White, in GM, vol. 5, no. 7 (September 1930) 218.
 GM, vol. 5, no. 1 (March 1929) 1.
 Essex Archaeology and History, vol. 29 (1998) 155-182.
 The Herald and Genealogist, vol. 4 (1867) 466-67.
 Wagner, op. cit. (1983) 400.
 Morning Post, Wednesday, 11 March 1846, 1b.
 ‘The London Genealogical Society’, in Punch, vol. 10, issue 240 (14 February 1846) 81; the Punch Historical Archive attributes the article to Douglas Jerrold; the Society received unsympathetic notice also in the Hereford Times, 14 March 1846, 7.
 List of Subscribers in Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick, Heraldic Visitations of Wales, vol. 1 (1846) viii, where the name appears as ‘H. Wyrelle M. Weber, Esq. Marshal of the London Genealogical Society’.
 Advertisement in London Standard, 13 February 1847, 1.
 London Gazette, 20 February 1849, No 20947, 534.
 N&Q, 2nd Series, vol. v (10 April 1852) 353-4.
 Bell’s Weekly Messenger, 8 March 1846, page 1; Hereford Times, 14 March 1846, page 7.
 Chelmsford Chronicle, Friday, 7 May 1847, 3.
 N&Q 5 (27 March 1852) 297.
 N&Q 5 (10 April 1852) 353-4.
 London Gazette, 19 November 1850, page 3090; London Gazette, 20 December 1850, page 3472.
 Court sat 3 January; Evening Mail, 6 January 1851, 3.
 Richard Sims, Manual for the genealogist (London, 1861) 457.
 N&Q 7S iv (1887) 234-35.
 Chester Chronicle, 10 September 1853, 5 and 17 September 1853, 8.
 ‘Genealogical Society’, in Morning Chronicle, Thursday, 15 September 1853, 3.
 N&Q 12 (7 and 14 July 1855), advertisements facing1 and 36.
 Morning Post, 9 November 1855, and 15 November 1855, 4.
 He was of 3 Oak Terrace, Battersea, aged 29, writer on the public press, 1851 (HO107/1577-31-20); of 19 Brompton Crescent, Kensington, aged 40, Secretary to the Genealogical Society, writer on general literature and genealogist, 1861 (RG9/20-100-59); of 11 Brompton Crescent, Kensington, aged 50, clerk to literary society, 1871 (RG10/50-33-57); of the same address, aged 57, art critic, 1881 (RG11/43-97-28); of 25 Oakley Street, Chelsea, aged 69, genealogist, 1891 (RG12/64-40-5); of 96 Edith Road, Fulham, aged 79, journalist, 1901 (RG13/63-76-41); he had married at St Luke, Chelsea, 1843, Eliza Adkins, and they had several daughters; he died in Wandsworth RD, March Quarter 1911, aged 91 [GRO Death Indexes].
 Morning Post, Saturday, 20 December 1856.
 London Daily News, Tuesday, 2 June 1857.
 London Post Office Directories, 1861-1882.
 William Thomas Lowndes, The Bibliographer's Manual of English Literature, new edition by Henry G. Bohn, vol. iv (1871), Appendix, 133 (apparently compiled late in 1864).
 ‘Genealogical and Historical Society of Great Britain’, in The Ipswich Journal, 21 August 1858, 3.
 Morning Chronicle, Thursday, 5 May 1859, 4.
 Morning Chronicle, Monday, 11 July 1859, 3.
 Morning Chronicle, Wednesday, 18 July 1860, 5f.
 For example the Wells Journal of 25 June 1853, 8, ‘At a meeting of the Council and Fellows of the Genealogical Society, last week, John Davies esq formerly of this City, was elected an Honorary Fellow of that institution, and received his diploma accordingly’.
 ‘Collier v. Reeve’, in Hereford Times, Saturday, 15 August 1863, 3.
 The Complete Peerage, vol. xi (1949) 41-45 sub ‘Roche’.
 The Complete Peerage, v (1926) 55-56.
 William Thomas Lowndes, The bibliographer's manual of English literature (1871), Appendix Volume (1864) 133.
 W. P. W. Phillimore, How to write the history of a family (2nd edn. 1888) 82; the Society is similarly mentioned in the Addenda to George Gatfield, Guide to printed books and manuscripts relating to English and foreign heraldry and genealogy (1892) 623, as though it still flourished. Walter Rye, Records and record searching (1897) 184, knew that it was 'extinct'.
 ‘Gossip of the Clubs, from a London Correspondent’, in Lancaster Gazette, 14 November 1874, 3.
 N&Q 7S iv (1887) 68-69 and 234-35.
 N&Q 10S iv (1905) 230.
 General Register Office, Death Indexes.
 N&Q 11S iii (8 April 1911) 266.
 London Gazette, 21 August 1855, No 21766, 319.
 Bury and Norwich Post, 22 February 1854, 1.
 London Gazette, 13 May 1854.
 Pall Mall Gazette, 31 October 1872, 6, and 26 November 1872, 6.
 The Herald and Genealogist, vol. 4 (1867) 466-67.
 ‘A fraternal offer’ in Punch, 23 March 1867, page 124.
 The Herald and Genealogist, vol. 4 (1867) 574.
 See Dictionary of National Biography.
 N&Q, 8S xii (1897) 289.
 GM, vol. 11, no. 16 (December 1954) 546.
 A. R. Wagner, Records and Collections of the College of Arms (1952) 45.
 Burke’s Landed Gentry of Great Britain: The Kingdom of Scotland (2001) 716-720; Old Bailey Proceedings, 31 October 1810, re a robbery at his shop; his Administration (with Will dated 26 October1824 as of Fleet Street and Hatton Garden) granted PCC 3 March 1825; obituary in Salisbury and Winchester Journal, 22 November 1824.
 Obituaries of Maria Innes in Dundee Advertiser, 22 December 1880, page 6, and Cheltenham Chronicle, 28 December 1880, page 2.
 The words are those of Horace Round in Peerage and Pedigree, ii (1910) 221.
 Susan Hood, Royal Roots - republican inheritance: the survival of the Office of Arms (Dublin, 2002) 23-24.
 Frances-Jane French, 'Nepotists and sinecurists: a history of Ulster's Office 1552-1943' in The Irish Genealogist, vol. 10, no, 3 (2000) 350.
 Susan Hood, op. cit. (2002) 1-24.
 Percy Fitzgerald, Recollections of Dublin Castle and of Dublin society by a native (1902) 30.
 Michael Sharpe, Family matters: a history of genealogy (2011) 68; the statement that he worked at the College of Arms is incorrect.
 Hansard, 13 September 1886, 309, 272, quoted in Susan Hood, op. cit. (2002) 4.
 Interview with Anthony Adolph, for Family History Monthly, 2004.
 Sir Bernard Burke, History of the Landed Gentry (6th ed. 1882) Prefatory Notice.
 Arthur Charles Fox-Davies, 'The Abuse of Arms', in Armorial Families: a directory of gentlemen of coat-armour (1929) xv.
 Sir Bernard Burke, A genealogical history of the dormant, abeyant, forfeited, and extinct peerages of the British Empire (New edition, 1883) ix.
 GM, vol. 19, no. 5 (March 1978) 180-81.
 Mark Bence-Jones, 'The trust of landowning', in Burke's Landed Gentry, vol. 1 (1965) xv-xviii.
 GM, vol. 16, no. 3 (September 1969) 102.
 GM, vol. 16, no. 4 (December 1969) 164.
 James Leasor, 'The Landed Gentry lower the drawbridge', Express, 1952.
 GM, vol. 19, no. 5 (March 1978) 180-81.
 Burke’s Irish Family Records (1976) vii.
 However, some 33 volumes of Irish pedigrees and 69 volumes of his genealogical notes were aquired by the College of Arms after the death of Sir Henry Farnham Burke in 1930 [A. R. Wagner, Records and Collections of the College of Arms (1952) 30-31, 52]; to what extent these have been indexed or systematically examined I do not know.
 Advertisements in Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica.
 W. H. Godfrey and Sir Anthony Wagner, The College of Arms (1963) 165; as a Herald he is said to have had the largest practice of his day, earning up to £2,000-£3,000 a year.
 Anon, Popular genealogists or the art of pedigree-making (1865) 20-21.
 E. A. Freeman, 'Pedigrees and pedigree makers', in The Contemporary Review, vol. 30 (1877) 12-13.
 W. R. Powell, John Horace Round (2001) 79.
 Complete Peerage, xi (1949) 49 note b.
 Bibliography and memoir (ed. William Page) in J. H. Round, Family Origins (1930).
 For his ancestry and descendants see Burke's Landed Gentry, vol. 1 (1965) 99-101.
 Walter H. Godfrey, &c., The College of Arms (1963) 70-71.
 N&Q, 8S vi, 21-23 (14 July 1894), 155 (25 August 1894) and 235 (22 September 1894).
 Ashworth P. Burke, Family Records (1897) vi.
 B. C. Trappes-Lomax, 'Moonshine from Burke', in GM, vol. 9, no. 3 (September 1940) 84-86.
 Anthony R. Wagner, 'Burke's Peerage, 1949', in GM, vol. 10, no. 11 (September 1949) 407-409.
 Wagner, op. cit. (1983) 130, 416.
 Wagner, op. cit. (1983) 133.
 Richard Sims, Records and record searching (1897) footnote 7.
 George Burnett, Popular Genealogists (1865) 99.
 Publicity leaflet, 'Culleton's Heraldic Library' (n.d.; pre-1887).
 Arlene H. Eakle and others, Descriptive inventory of the English collection (1979) 164; there are microfilms of the Index at the British Library and at the Society of Genealogists (MF 542-6).
 A point mentioned by Harry Pirie-Gordon in his Preface to the 1937 Landed Gentry and discussed at some length in A. C. Fox-Davies, Armorial Families (1929) Preface, many correspondents asking for the date not to be published.
 His father Thomas Edmond Davies (1839-1908) had adopted the surname Fox-Davies in 1894.
 J. H. Round, ‘Heraldry and the Gent’, in Peerage and Pedigree, ii (1910) 307-84.
 J. H. Round, Studies in peerage and family history (1901) xxvii; repeated in his Peerage and Pedigree, ii (1910) 321.
 Peerage and Pedigree, ii (1910) 336.
 The Times, 21 May 1928.
 GM, vol. 4, no. 4 (December 1928) 92, he is quoting Round’s criticism in Peerage and Pedigree (1910) of Fox-Davies’ Complete Guide to Heraldry (1909).
 Walter Rye, Records and record searching (1897) footnote 3; the question raised by Edmund Robertson, MP for Dundee, 13 November 1888, does not mention the Marsh family. The claimant, Arthur Marsh, born at Swanage in 1856, had been in the merchant navy and was latterly a stevedore at Southampton where he died unmarried in 1934.
 Patrick Polden, 'Stranger than fiction? The Jennens inheritance in fact and fiction: Part two: The business of fortune hunting' in Common Law World Review, vol. 32, no. 4 (2003) 338.
 Douglas Woodruff, The Tichborne claimant (1957).
 Theodore Besterman, The Druce-Portland case (1935).
 TPR, vol. 1 (March 1908) 112; GM, vol. 5, no. 6 (June 1930) 187.
 A catalogue of books ... the property of John Russell Smith ... on sale ... by Alfred Russell Smith, 36 Soho Square, London (n.d.) 16, says it 'contains double the matter of another hasty production'.
 W. H. Godfrey and Sir Anthony Wagner, The College of Arms (1963) 165.
 1871 Census of 14 Regent Square, St Pancras, RG10/220-82-89.
 A. R. Wagner, Records and collections of the College of Arms (1952) 47 note 2.
 Simon Eliot, ‘Common Bonds: John Camden Hotten and the Transatlantic Trade in Family History and Pornography’, in Swapan Chakravorty and Abhijit Gupta, eds. New Word Order: Transnational Themes in Book History (Delhi, 2011), 80-93.
 Eliot, op. cit., 89-90.
 1881 Census, RG11/4024-22-38.
 1891 Census, RG12/1042-28-47.
 Reference Catalogue of British Topography and Family History, offered for sale by Henry Gray, 47 Leicester Square London WC, 1887.
 1901 Census, RG13/1201-72-18; his book label.
 It is attributed to Marshall as a useful supplement to Bridger in A catalogue of books ... the property of John Russell Smith ... on sale ... by Alfred Russell Smith, 36 Soho Square, London (n.d.) 16.
 Patrick Polden, op. cit., 357.
 London Gazette, Issue 21031, 23 October 1849.
 London Gazette, Issue 25315, 5 February 1884, 552.
 London Gazette, Issue 28280, 17 August 1909, 6310.
 Defined as an illegal agreement in which a person with no previous interest in a lawsuit finances it with a view to sharing the disputed property if the suit succeeds, or 'buying into someone else's lawsuit'.
 Rees v De Bernardy  2 Ch 437.
 Wedgerfield v De Bernardy  24 TLR 497.
 Fraser v Buckle  WTLR 1389.
 M. A. Pinhorn, ‘Unclaimed Monies’, in GM, vol. 13, no. 3 (September 1959) 81-83.
 Colin Price-Beech, ‘What’s a windfall worth?’, in Daily Mail, 3 November 1971.
 Georgia Bedworth, 'Tracing the missing beneficiary - heir locators and contingency fees', online at www.lawskills.co.uk/articles/counsels_opinion/ (2010; accessed January 2012).
 ‘Widow faces 10pc fee on £3m bequest’, in Daily Telegraph, 27 October 1994.
 See www.titlesearch.com.
 H. B. Guppy, Homes of family names in Great Britain (1890) 6.
 Patrick Hanks, Flavia Hodges, A. D. Mills and Adrian Room, eds, The Oxford Names Companion (OUP, 2002) xi.
 Fothergill’s announcement is in N&Q, 10S vii (4 May 1907) 347; Marshall’s reply 10S viii (20 July 1907) 52, and Fothergill’s answer 10S viii (24 August 1907) 153.
 TSGL: Fifth QR, September 1912, 4; ‘Pedigree Analysis Forms’ letter printed 10 July 192.
 TSGL: Sixth QR, December 1912, 3.
 TSGL: Second AR, 1913, 13.
 Walter Rye, Records and record searching (1897) 124-125.
 ‘Well-known historian dead’, in Aberdeen Journal, 12 February 1938, 5.
 J. D. Cantwell, The Public Record Office 1838-1958 (1991) 176-9, 213-4, 253-5, 307.
 He died at 127 Farringdon Road, Middlesex, 16 January 1898, aged 50. His administration granted (to his widow) 12 January 1901, Effects £50. He was a Freeman of the City by Redemption, 1881; of The Hope, 90 Cow Cross Street, 1881; of various addresses, bankrupt, residing at 85 Charterhouse Street, 1886; of 12 Dagnall Road, Stroud Green and 83 Charterhouse Street, 1890 [Electoral Registers]; of 28 Cloth Fair, coffee house keeper, witness at Old Bailey, 2 May 1892. His first wife Ellen died 1880, aged 37; he married 2ndly, 1882, Louisa Linton Allen, who died 1888, aged 27; he married 3rdly, 1890, Mary Ann Bruce.
 He died at 45 Alma Square, 25 September 1886. His will proved PPR 15 December 1886, Effects £600 16s 4. He was of Thetford, clerk to a wine merchant, 1871; of 6 Sussex Place, Hammersmith, professional antiquarian, 1881 (as Greigson). See Burke’s Landed Gentry, Grigson of Saham Toney (1858) and Rye’s Norfolk Families. She was of Worthing, Norfolk, 1861; of 24 Cedar Road, Clapham, companion lady, 1881; married at Holy Trinity, Clapham, 2 August 1881; at Whinburgh, Musgrave Road, Durban, Natal [Ruvigny, Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal: Mortimer-Percy, Part 1 (1911) 460]. The couple were at 10 Alma Square in 1884 and 1885 [baptisms of children at St Mark, Hamilton Terrace].
 She died at 22 Plato Road, Brixton, 18 March 1916. Her will proved PPR, 27 April 1916, Effects £1,137 5s. Clarence Hopper (described as a record & literary agent in 1861) had died at 2 Grove, Margate, Kent, 10 June 1868, from 1 Albert Place, Denmark Road, Lambeth. His administration granted PPR, 12 March 1870. His genealogical collections are in British Library ADD MSS 28015-20; his transcripts relating to the Channel Islands in Egerton MS 2416 and ADD MSS 30188-189; and his correspondence with James Halliwell-Phillipps, 1863-9, in Edinburgh University Library, LoA.
 Kitching, op. cit. (2008) 139.
 The couple lived at 14 Montpelier Row, Twickenham, in 1861 and 1871. His will was proved PPR, 20 February 1880, Under £16,000. She died at 16 Cleveland Road, Barnes, 3 February 1902. Her administration with will was granted PPR, 25 February 1902, Effects £25 5s 4d.
 Rye (1897) 5, quoted in Kitching, op. cit. (2008) 139.
 Quoted in Joan Thirsk, ‘Women local and family historians’, in David Hey, Oxford Companion to Family and Local History (2nd ed 2008) 105.
 W. R. Powell, John Horace Round (2001) 159 (11 November 1905) and 186 (22 november 1907).
 W. R. Powell, John Horace Round (2001) 159-161.
 1911 Census of St George’s Hostel, 77 & 79 Gloucester Street, Belgrave, St George Hanover Square.
 David Dymond, ‘Suffolk’, in C. R. J. Currie and C. P. Lewis, eds, English County Histories: a Guide (1994) 369.
 1911 Census of 13 Chenies Street Chambers, London, W. C.
 1911 Census of 4 Strathray Gardens, Hampstead, Middlesex.
 1911 Census of 30 Dennington Park Road, West Hampstead, Middlesex.
 Not ‘less than 30’ as stated in Family History Monthly, No. 193 (March 2011) 32.
 Way down East, Hal Hungerford, The quest of the golden pearl (1897), The Press Gang Afloat and Ashore, The Grenadiers of Potsdam, etc.
 Documented pedigree (Hutchinson (VJ) Family Tree by ‘bobfilm’ on ancestry.co.uk.
 1891 Census of 26 Malfort Road, Camberwell, RG12/466-31-43.
 Public Record Office, J 77/979/9749.
 North Devon Journal, 17 January 1924, page 5, and Western Morning News, 12 January 1924, page 3..
 Quarterly Queries, No. 8, March 1919, page 30, and No. 9, June 1919, page 33.
 Based on searches for specific occupations in the online database provided by Findmypast.
 Reginald L. Hine, Confessions of an Un-common Attorney (1945) 137-9; identification in copy formerly owned by Sherwood and now with Anthony Camp.
 Robert Cowtan, Memories of the British Museum (London, 1872) 382.
 www.thesociety.org/pasadena/hpb-spr/hpb-spr1.htm accessed 27 November 2011.
 1861 Census, RG9/121-105-6; 1881 Census, RG11/183-85-9; 1891 Census, RG12/1059-6-4.
 W. P. W. Phillimore, How to write the history of a family (1888) 1 and 6.
 Phillimore, op. cit. (1884) 12.
 W. P. W. Phillimore (revised by Bower Marsh), Pedigree Work: a handbook for the genealogist (1936) 18-19.
 ‘Provincial Records’, in The Times, 10 October 1888, 4.
 W. P. W. Phillimore, The "Principal Genealogical Specialist"; or Regina v. Davies and the Shipway genealogy (1899) 17 and introductory Note printed on cover.
 Shipway was a director of Hammond & Co, a family breeches-making firm in Oxford Street, and was later responsible for the purchase and restoration of Hogarth’s House at Chiswick which he presented to Middlesex County Council [James Wilsdom & Val Bott, ‘Col Shipway’s Pedigree’, in Brentford and Chiswick Local History Journal (Spring 1996) 17-21].
 Phillimore says that he was the son of a small tradesman in Birmingham but his birth, in the name Major Herbert Albert Davies on 1 February 1873, was registered in Marylebone [1a 603].
 He was the father of the author Francis Lawrance Bickley (1885-1977).
 ‘A tree and a trial’, in Pall Mall Gazette, 24 November 1898, 1.
 ‘The custody of local records’, letter from Secretary of Congress in Northampton Mercury, 11 August 1899, 8; Report of The Congress of Archaeological Societies in union with the Society of Antiquaries to the Committee on the Preservation of Local Records appointed by H. M. Treasury, adopted 28 March 1900.
 The Morning Post, 20 October 1899, quoted in Deposit of Parish Records in the Guildhall Library with Suggested resolution of Vestry (n.d.; foolscap printed sheet); he was born in Bermondsey, 1837; was Master of the Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks, 1892-3 and 1901-2, and author of The churches & chapels of old London (1901); he lived at St Monica, Micheldever Road, Lee, Kent [1901 Census, RG13/547-74-31] and died there 3 April 1906, aged 69 [PPR Calendar].
 William Le Hardy, Guide to the Hertfordshire Record Office: Part I (1961) ix-x.
 TPR, vol. 2, no. 17 (June 1911) 158.
 Peter Spufford, 'The Index Library: a centenary history, 1988', in The Records of the Nation (1990) 119-137.
 Who Was Who 1897-1916 (1920) 561.
 Noel Osborne, '100 years of Phillimore & Co', in Local History Magazine, no. 64 (November/December 1997) 12-16.
 Christopher Kitching, ‘A Victorian pioneer in the records: Walter Rye’s Records and Record Searching in context’, in Archives, vol. xxxiii, no. 119 (October 2008) 126-139.
 Hassell Smith and Roger Virgoe, 'Norfolk', in C. R. J. Currie and C. P. Lewis, eds. English county histories: a guide (1994) 285; also obituary in The Times, 26 February 1929.
 There is a pedigree of George Samuel Fry in TPR, vol. 2, no. 17 (June 1911) 152-3.
 Sir Anthony Wagner, English Genealogy (1983) 303.
 Anthony Richard Wagner, The records and collections of the College of Arms (1952) 46-47, and op. cit. (1983) 303 and 403.
 James B. Allen, Jessie L. Embry & Kahlile B. Mehr, Hearts turned to the fathers: a history of the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1894-1994 (BYU Studies, 1995) 34. It was he who, as President in 1890, wrote the Manifesto testifying that the Church had ceased teaching the practice of plural marriage.
 Dr Arthur Adams in A century of genealogical progress (1945) quoted in Wagner, op. cit. (1983) 404.
 Francois Weil, Family trees; a history of genealogy in America (2013) 75-6.
 ODNB; Herald and Genealogist, iii (1866) 266-73, 464-5; GM, viii (1939) 333-4, 398; New England Historical and Genealogical Register, xi (1857) 259-71.
 Richard Sims, A Manual for the Genealogist, Topographer, Antiquary, and Legal Professor (2nd ed. 1861) 309-17.
 1861 Census of 5 New North Street, Finsbury, RG9/182-83-78; 1871 Census of 16 Linden Villas, Bermondsey, RG10/639-24-42; 1881 Census of 124 Southwark Park Road, Bermondsey, RG11/572-45-19. He died at the latter address 26 May 1882; will proved in Principal Probate Registry, 22 July 1882; Personal Estate £2,047-11-6.
 The statement that Cokayne sold the register transcripts to the College of Arms for £3,000 in John Titford, 'The Chester Manuscripts', in GM, vol. 25, no. 19 (June 1997) 402, which puts Cokayne in a bad light, seems contradicted by Sir Anthony Wagner, The records and collections of the College of Arms (1952) 46, who states that the College paid £700 in 1886 to which Cokayne first made a substantial contribution and then repaid the whole balance.
 New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, October 1872, 200.
 She had confessed to Chester that two wills provided to Stephen Whitney Phoenix were fabricated; Paul C. Reed, ‘Whitney Origins Revisited’, in The American Genealogist, number 69 (1994) 9-14; Francois Weil, Family trees; a history of genealogy in America (2013) 154-5.
 Eliot, op. cit., 89-90.
 '10,000 names of early settlers of U.S.', in The Times, 15 October 1935.
 James A. Emmerton and Henry F. Waters, Gleanings from English records about New England families (Salem, Mass: 1880).
 Gurdon Wadsworth Russell, An account of some of the descendants of John Russell the Emigrant, ed. E. S. Welles (Hartford, Connecticut, 1910).
 The first book of any size to be printed entirely on a Gestetner duplicator.
 TPR, vol. 3, no. 33 (June 1915) 288.
 The 85 articles and 745 pages were reprinted as Virginia gleanings in England (GPC, 2007).
 James B. Allen, Jessie L. Embry and Kahlile B. Mehr, Hearts turned to the fathers: a history of the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1894-1994 (Provo, Utah, 1995) 17-22.
 James B. Allen and others, op. cit. (1995) 22-23.
 James B. Allen and others, op. cit. (1995) 33-35.
 James B. Allen and others, op. cit. (1995) 36.
 James B. Allen and others, op. cit. (1995) 27, 36-37.
 James B. Allen and others, op. cit. (1995) 39-40, 45; he had married at South Norwood in 1887, converted in 1888, re-married at Logan, Utah, in 1889, described himself as a provision dealer in Holborn in 1891 and as a carpenter at Draper, Utah, in 1900.
 The provisional council approved the rules of the new society, 9 December 1907.
 Quoted by Bernau in 'The genealogy of the submerged' in his Some special studies in genealogy (1908) 67, from Camden's Remains concerning Britain (1674).
 Bernau, op. cit. (1908) 69.
 That Bernau was a member of the Eugenics Education Society is stated on the title page of the 2nd Supplement of the 2nd Edition of his Directory (1910) which contains lengthy statements from the Secretary, Mrs Gotto, and the Chairman of Council, Dr J. W. Slaughter, of the Society, as well as another letter from Slaughter appealing for copies of pedigrees, and reviews of The Eugenics Review and The Mendel Journal.
 His baptismal entry at St Augustine, Kilburn, 30 May 1888 (sic), says that he was born 7 November 1878, but his birth was registered at St Olave in the December Quarter of 1877.
 ‘’Hereditary Paupers’, in Shoreditch Observer, 20 November 1886, page 3.
 'Report of the Committee appointed to consider the eugenic aspects of Poor Law Reform: Section 1, The eugenic principle in Poor Law administration' in Eugenics Review, 2 (1910-11) 167-177, quoted in Pauline M. H. Mazumdar, 'Eugenics: the pedigree years', in Robert A. Peel, Pedigree studies (1999) 20.
 Mazumdar, op. cit. (1999) 23.
 Bernau, op. cit. (1908) 70.
 Veronica di Mambro, 'The University of Cambridge Eugenics Society', in Newsletter of the Galton Institute (June/September 2003).
 Robert Resta, ‘A brief history of the pedigree in human genetics’, in Robert A. Peel, ed., Human Pedigree Studies: Proceedings of a Conference organised by the Galton Institute, London, 1998 (1999) 62-84.
 Mazumdar, op. cit. (1999) 43, note 10.
 Francis Galton, Natural inheritance (1889), quoted in Peel, op. cit. (1999) vii.
 TPR, vol. 1, no. 8 (March 1909) 234-5.