Reseraching Genealogy and Family Trees
Genealogy has always been a pet subject of mine. I came to
it through my love of castles and architecture. How could you
understand a building if you knew nothing of the people who built it
and their needs? Over the years this has been augmented with a
fascination for my own family tree.
When I began researching in earnest, under Professor R.R. Davies in the
1980s, he instilled in me the need to understand not only the castle
builders, but what drove them. From this it was a short step to
realising that until we had a workable genealogy for the families who
built castles we really couldn't even begin to understand what their
objectives were. I therefore began to build family trees of
various noble families I was interested in. This grew and grew
until by the 1990s I had created a family tree which covered as many
members of the medieval aristocracy as I could. It soon became
obvious that the aristocracy were not a homogenous group and the
database expanded rapidly into the lesser baronage and even to lowly
knights and beyond.
Currently in 2012 my database extends to over 21 thousand individuals
including nearly seven thousand marriages with the recorded subjects
ranging in date from the possibly mythical Beli Mawr, born in the time
of Celtic folklore, to myself in the current day - yes I have even
managed to bring my own family history into this ancient family
grouping. This may seem surprising, but mathematically if you
have lived in an area like Britain for over twenty generations you will
be related to anyone else living in a similar geographical area be they
peasants or royalty. This in itself is an interesting
phenomena. The study of history for history's sake has taken me
into a investigation of my personal ancestors, be they grandfathers or
cousins. Indeed the study has shown how the medieval aristocracy
was a family. At the battle of Evesham in August 1265 it was not
one group of barons fighting another - it was a family squabble.
Of the dead and the known combatants most were cousins, with seemingly
very few being more than three degrees of cousinly separation apart.
The family tree showing part of three generations of the relatives of Fulk Fitz Warin of Whittington
clearly shows the complex series of relationships entered into by
baronial houses. In just two generations links were formed with
six other baronies. This is espccially true when it is remembered
that some people married several times.
Last year, after taking two clients around a castle on a private tour,
they asked me if I knew of a certain family. I did and said that
they were distant cousins through my family tree. To cut a long
story short, they hired me to prove or disprove their family's claimed
link to a member of the aristocracy. Two years and many, many,
hours of research later, the link has been all but proved. As
three centuries have passed since the event I was researching, this
just goes to show how much can be done with a mixture of perseverence
and expert knowledge.
One of the major troubles in attempting genealogies stretching over
this period is that much information has been lost. Many are
tempted to ‘jump' certain evidence, but at the end of the day, to
make something as factual as possible, it is necessary to note the
limitations of historical research and to allow for the lost
‘facts' that could change any family tree.
With the above in mind I am now offering expert genealogical advice on
tracing your family tree back to the Middle Ages or through it.
Please contact me if you would like to receive a quote or further
details of what I might be able to achieve for you, please email Paul Remfry.
Paul Martin Remfry