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.

Please follow this link to a genealogy of the full Mortimer Family from the 1050s to the fifteenth century.


Copyright©2012 Paul Martin Remfry

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