Colony Research Group
Genealogy ~ DNA ~ Archaeology
sound too good to be true and sadly, in many cases, it is not true. While
some of the heralds were pioneers in the systematic application of record
evidence to genealogy, others were far less skilful and far less
scrupulous. Oral information from the family, if unsupported by
documentary evidence, can clearly be relied on safely for only one or two
generations (or even less than this, to judge from some examples). Even
where records were used, their evidence could sometimes be misinterpreted,
and in only a few cases do the heralds present the evidence alongside the
finished pedigree so that their deductions can be checked. But worse than
this, in an age where a distinguished descent was very desirable, the
heralds seem often to have been willing to copy - or even to compile -
long and impressive pedigrees which bore little relation to the truth. To
make matters worse, later copies of visitation pedigrees often contain
additions and continuations - these have sometimes found their way into
print, because older editions were often based on copies rather than the
original visitation books.
out that the visitations of Cornwall in 1620 are a good example of
problematic pedigrees, because they are quite at odds with the same
pedigrees created in the visitation of 1573-1575. The peculiar thing is
that the earlier ones seem to be more accurate.
the original "Ancestry.com" where people sometimes made up
pedigrees, publish them, and others subsequently unwittingly and
gratefully gathered them. Only the speed with which one can gather, and
disseminate, has changed.
interesting, for each area, there is also a list of
"disclaimed," meaning those who are not allowed to use arms.
These lists are given by county, but generally give the name of the
village where the person lives within the county. For example, the
visitation of Dorsetshire in 1623 disclaims William Fisher of Sherborne.
This provides a very good genealogical tool to create maps of where
clusters of particular surnames occurred in the 1500s and 1600s.
In the late
1600s, the farmer was still the central force in the village and other
trades existed to serve the farm community. Yeomen, regardless of what
they meant earlier, now meant farmers as compared to a laborer who worked,
often on the farm, and was paid for their labor. The pattern of farming
had changed very little over time with the exception that now farmers
could choose what they would grow and how much of it.
tells us that farms outside villages consisted of hundreds upon hundreds
of narrow strips all over the parish, separated by narrow balks about a
foot wide that were left to produce a crop of grass and weeds. He wonders
how a farmer ever found his own strips of land, which were not necessarily
located adjacent to each other. For example, one farmer with 46 acres in
total has in Hoffer Field 20 strips of from half acre to 1.5 acres, in
Hill field 19 strips, in Ham Field, 2 strips, in Newton Field 1 strip and
in Chatwell field 15 strips, for a total of 57 strips. This means that the
average size of a strip is .81 acres. This isn't a farm, it's a patchwork
The use of
surnames as Christian names occurs with increasing frequency during this
time period. Many genealogists don't realize what a boon this can be,
especially if the surname used as a first name still exists within the
community where the person lives.
In the late
1600s, wills changed too and listing every single thing one owned went out
of vogue. Possibly because people began to have more "things" to
distribute and having items became ordinary, not extraordinary. Wills
primarily dealt with money by this time. However, inventories of the
estate of the deceased had to be presented to court, at this time, by two
disinterested parties, implying of course that their value appraisal would
be more fair than that of someone who might be trying to, say, avoid
paying taxes. In colonial America, who created and submitted the inventory
changed somewhat. Instead of two disinterested people, it was typically a
disinterested neighbor, the creditor with the highest balance, and someone
from the widow's family, representing her interests.
tell us so much about how people lived.
bed was still the most important possession inside the house. Fashion had
endowed it with curtains on rails to give the more refined people complete
privacy and a 'vallence' around the edge of the bed to hide its legs and
whatever was underneath the bed. There must have been a utensil there - a
stroll down the garden or round the back of the house on a cold winter's
night was out of the question - and it must have been made of pewter. And
yet I have never seen it mentioned in either wills or inventories -
perhaps it was already an unmentionable - or one of the "other things
in the room".
The well to
do slept on feather beds, the less well to do on 'flock', a mixture of
wool and shredded cloth, and the poor on straw mattresses. Beneath
feathers, flock and straw alike there were plain hard boards, 'a boarded
bedstead' - the luxury of metal springs was many generations away yet. The
very poor slept on straw on the floor, as they had always done. Bolsters
and pillows are much in evidence and 'coverlets' in general use. Trundle
beds occurred frequently, a small bed with wheels that could be moved
around. When one works out the ratio between the number of people known to
have lived in a house at any one time and the number of beds which they
appear to have possessed, it is obvious that sleeping 3, 4 or 5 to a bed
must have been a common practice. The old joke about 'when father turns we
all turn' isn't really a joke at all.
course were mostly 'joined'. Chairs were quite common. So were stools, but
forms were still much in use; 'Singleton's leather Chaires' and 'Great
Chaires' were exceptional. Chests and hutches are as frequently met with
as they were a century before, though cupboards are on the increase - not
yet built-in, but moveable. The first 'dresser' appears in 1728. Kitchen
utensils are what they were a hundred years before. Cooking was still done
on or before the open fire, with the use of 'hobirons', 'cobirons', 'spitts',
etc. The first iron grate is mentioned in 1725 in conjunction with '2
cobirons, a fire shovel and tongs and one spit'. Baking went on in
practically every home; 'kneading trof', 'kneading kimnell', 'flower trof'
occur everywhere. Ovens do not yet get a mention, but there must have been
one or two installed by 1730. Warming-pans - usually called 'bed-pan' are
more common than they were, but still rare enough to suggest that they
were a luxury without which the countryman could well manage. Spinning
wheels only occur three times. There is something odd about this. It may
be something regional, such that cottage industries did not exist here, or
it may be that the spinning wheel was a symbol of impoverishment. It had
been over the preceding 200-300 years, but in Norman times, it was a
symbol of gentility and femininity."
tells us that many homes had their mashing tubs, hogsheads, and other
items for the brewing of ale. Many private homes were listed in public
records as 'drinkhouses,' and this was the true heyday of home brewing.
but not least, in one case, the 'donge in the yard' was inventoried and
given a value. I wonder how it felt to be the inheritor of that,
especially if that was all you received! By this time, dung is an
important fertilizer, especially for the small farmer who continues to try
to wrestle life out of a farm where the life has departed from the soil.
By the 1700s and 1800s, these farms have now been cultivated for nearly
1000 years. Yields decrease, farmers need larger farms to support a family
and many people leave for literally greener pastures, land in America,
free or nearly so for the taking, and has never been farmed. Never mind
the problematic Indians and untamed wilderness.
It is here
that we will leave Foxton, with its village Brooke, the common stream,
still bubbling through the village. The geese and ducks are still trying
to escape to the stream where they are forbidden to swim. The populace is
concerned about goose poop and washing laundry, but drain their cesspools
into the stream nightly. It's only problematic for the people downstream.
I can't help but wonder if they ever think about who is upstream from them
and what they are doing. Perhaps this is one of those cases where it's
just better not to know. The amazing thing is that they did, indeed,
survive....goose poop, cesspools, the plague, invaders, the church and
their own government.
of genealogical resources have been mentioned in the course of reviewing
"The Common Stream". They are listed below with links. Hopefully
Rowland Parker's book, its invaluable history, combined with these tools
will enable you to discover more about your ancestors, who they were,
where and how they lived.
where you can purchase The Common Stream both new and used: http://www.amazon.com/Common-Stream-Thousand-English-Village/dp/0897333918%3FSubscriptionId%3D1NNRF7QZ418V218YP1R2%
Stream Website - http://www.strawman.co.uk/COMMONSTREAM/
Book - 1086 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domesday_Book
Rolls of 1280 - http://www.abebooks.com/Second-Domesday-Hundred-Rolls-1279-1280-Hardback/3119831404/bd
Great Field - http://www.explorebraunton.org/the-open-strip-field-system.aspx
Lost, Abandoned and Deserted Settements in the UK - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_lost_settlements_in_the_UK
Family Tree DNA - To discover you heritage - www.familytreedna.com
Breaking News - New Bideford Video
video with our own Andy Powell narrating has just been released. Bideford,
where we think a number of Lost Colonists may have been from, is shown
here and I don't know about you, but this video makes me want to visit.
They are trying to obtain some funding to regenerate their town center and
this video is part of that process. Lucky for us, we get to visit their
wonderful community in this video. To help them, please click on
"like" when you watch the video!
Lost Colony website includes more than 8000 pages of research, all free,
Project on Facebook –
to Janet Crain for this
Blog - http://the-lost-colony.blogspot.com/
- If you don't subscribe to our blog...now's a great time to do
that...just click on over and sign up so you don't miss anything!! Thanks
to Janet Crain and Penny Ferguson for our wonderful blog.
Website - http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~molcgdrg/
adds to information to our website almost daily. Have you checked your
surnames lately to see what is new? Please contribute something for your
surnames, or a county of interest. Thanks to Nelda Percival for her
untiring work on our website.
- Thanks to Andy Powell for setting this up.
Island Genealogical and Preservation Society webpage - our sister
organization – http://hatgensoc.weebly.com/
Island Genealogy and Preservation Society Blog - http://hatgensoc.wordpress.com/author/hatgensoc/
DNA projects at Family Tree DNA:
Colony Yline - (paternal surname) - http://www.familytreedna.com/public/LostColonyYDNA/default.aspx
Colony Mitochondrial - (maternal line) - http://www.familytreedna.com/project-join-request.aspx?group=LostColonymtDNA
Colony Family Finder - (autosomal) http://www.familytreedna.com/public/LostColonyFamilyFinder/default.aspx
Island Fathers DNA project at http://www.familytreedna.com/public/HatterasFathers/default.aspx
Island Mothers DNA project at
Island Family Finder project at
Hatteras Island Genealogical and Preservation Society